Tips for Disconnecting and Packing Electronics

Your electronics are some of the most sensitive — and expensive — items that you'll need to move into your new home. Moving them safely can be stressful, but this guide will help you get it done as easily as possible.

Keeping Your Electronics Safe

Once you've visualized your new space, your first priority is transporting your electronics to your place safely. You may want to develop a replacement plan in case the worst happens and they're damaged or lost on the way.

Remove all media from your devices: CDs, DVDs and games out of optical drives; MP3 players off of docks; toner and ink cartridges out of printers, and so on. Write down the model and serial numbers of your components.

Computers containing irreplaceable documents, photo and music collections, and software programs require special consideration. Back up your hard drive onto an external drive, high-capacity discs such as burnable DVDs, or a cloud storage program; in fact, it wouldn't hurt to back up onto more than one of these just to be totally safe. Also, try to find your software installation discs and put them in a secure case along with the hard drive backups. If at all possible, make room for these discs and drives in your luggage or personal vehicle when you make the move. If you're strapped for time, Geek Squad® will back up your devices for you, freeing you up to take on other tasks important to your move.

Learn more in our Drives and Storage Buying Guide ›

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Accidents happen, even to the pros
If you're using a moving company to move valuable electronics, seriously consider insurance — and not just per-pound coverage, but valuation or replacement coverage. Take pictures of your electronics before and after your move. When you unpack, check the boxes for water damage and rough handling. Don't wait to start up each piece of equipment, as there can be a time limit for filing a claim. If the device takes an uncharacteristically long time to boot up, file a claim immediately. Most professional movers are highly capable and conscientious about their work, but accidents can and do happen.

Disconnecting Your Electronics

Detach power cords or cables wherever possible. Avoid the temptation to keep components connected during the move, because you could inadvertently damage the cord or port; instead of simplifying your move, you might create an unnecessary hassle to deal with.

Before you start unplugging, record how your current system is put together — it'll save you time and headaches in the long run. First, take a picture of the panel where the connections are made. This will come in handy, especially for pieces with lots of inputs and outputs, like receivers, routers and TVs. For anything that looks particularly complicated, refer to the user's manual; if you can't find a paper copy, check the manufacturer's website, as they often post these online.

Buy some colored adhesive dots (colored tape works, too), and as you disconnect each cable, stick a dot next to the port it was in — or, better yet, over it to keep packing material from getting caught there — and place a corresponding dot on the connecting plug. Neatly wrap up the cable, secure it with a twist tie, and put it in a labeled plastic bag. Keep it with the device so when the time comes to box it up, you can put the cable in the same box to make unpacking simpler. Do the same for smaller peripheral items such as remote controls and computer mice, and if you printed your back-panel photos, pack them in the box, too.

Boxes and Packing Materials

About those boxes: reconsider scavenging used boxes from the grocery store or liquor store. The last thing you want is your electronics spilling out the bottom or getting crushed by items stacked on top because of a weak box. The best option is to use the original box and packing material if you still have it. If not, your local moving company or supply store will have dedicated electronics boxes available for purchase. Whatever you decide, make sure you use thick, heavy-duty boxes for your most sensitive items.

Think about size, as well. Electronics are often heavy and shouldn't be stacked on top of each other within one large box. Instead, use smaller boxes with just enough space to surround the device with a thick layer of packing material so it can't slide around or jostle within. If you're going to stack equipment in the same box, find some cardboard dividers to insert between levels. This helps distribute the weight of the top load more evenly onto the bottom and avoid crushing.

Which packing materials to use — and which to avoid:

  • Bubble wrap – it's a great idea to first wrap sensitive electronics, like computers, in a layer of bubble wrap for extra cushioning.
  • Packing peanuts – ever tried sweeping up packing peanuts only to have them run away from the broom? That static charge can damage your electronics. If you're going to use them, buy antistatic peanuts.
  • Packing paper – you can use newspaper as filler, but if you wrap devices in it, inky newsprint can rub off and stain your electronics. Buy a supply of packing paper to avoid the mess.
  • Moving blankets – if an item is too large for a box, wrap it in a moving blanket before transfer.
  • Household linens – extra pillows, blankets, comforters and towels also make great packing material.
  • Packing tape – masking tape or Scotch tape won't withstand the stress, and duct tape doesn't adhere to cardboard very well. Get a few rolls of packing tape and a tape gun to seal your boxes like a pro.

 

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How to Pack Your Electronics

You've got your materials at hand, your electronics are labeled and disconnected, and you're ready to start packing. Follow these step-by-step instructions to pack up everything properly.

  1. Select a box and use several strips of packing tape to make a broad seal across the bottom.
  2. Line the inside bottom with a generous layer of packing material.
  3. Wrap your electronic device in a layer of bubble wrap if needed, and then with packing paper.
  4. Place heavier items at the bottom of the box, then fill in the spaces on the sides and top with peanuts, paper or linens.
  5. If you're adding another layer on top, place a cardboard divider between layers. Make sure you keep the box's weight manageable — no more than 50 lbs.
  6. Fill in any remaining space with packing material.
  7. Put all corresponding cords and small peripherals into the same box as its component.
  8. Close the top and seal it with several strips of packing tape.
  9. Label the box with items inside, its destination room, and mark it "Fragile: Top Load" with an arrow pointing to the top side.

 

Learn more about packing and moving your TV ›

Upgrading Your Gear

Moving is the perfect time to think about upgrading electronics and setting up an integrated home theater, surround-sound system or home network. If you know you'll be upgrading, you can make plans to sell, give away, or even recycle your current gear before you move — so you'll have fewer items to move and worry about.

To get the right gear for your new home, envision how you want your spaces to look and ask yourself if you have the right components and cables to make it happen. If not, Best Buy can be your resource to discover the right equipment for the job.

Determine what you'd need to upgrade by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Is my current TV the right size for my new living room or bedroom?
  • Do I have cables that are the right type and length to reconnect everything in my new place?
  • Is my current audio setup going to fill the new space with sound?
  • Does my router have the signal strength to provide Wi-Fi to every room in my new home?

 

Our Buying Guides can help you decide:

TV Buying Guide

A/V Cable Buying Guide

Speaker Buying Guide

Home Automation, Security and Networking Buying Guide

Help from Best Buy

By following the tips above, you'll make it much easier to move your electronics safely, unpack them, and set them up again with minimal frustration. If at this point you find you're not satisfied with how they look, or you've had terrible luck and your electronics have been damaged or lost, don't worry. Head to a Best Buy store to talk with our helpful, knowledgeable Blue Shirts about replacing or adding the components you need. They'll also show you the latest technology so you can get inspired and create a fresh new setup to complement your new home.

Learn more about Geek Squad home theater installation ›

Learn more about Geek Squad computer setup ›

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