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Tips for protecting desktop PCs when moving?

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So I'll be moving in a few weeks time, and I'm wondering if anyone has any tips for how to best protect the three desktop PCs that will be a part of that move. I trust the movers to be relatively sensible about treating things properly, but care still needs to be taken. I don't have the boxes for any of the cases. I know about things like Instapak, but sadly it seems impossible to buy that here in Norway unless i want huge quantities (no, I don't have a use for 36 large protective foam packets, thank you). I've already contacted the only PC hardware store nearby, and they don't have anything useful to me. So I guess it's back to basics: get some sturdy cardboard boxes big enough to protect the PCs, remove any heavy components (really not keen on disassembling my water loop, but I guess I'll have to), and pack anything big and heavy separately. Is there anything I can do to make this process any easier?

Some specifics:

PC 1 (my main desktop): NZXT H200, custom CPU+GPU water loop. I'm hoping I can stuff something in beneath the GPU (not much space there) to prop it up enough to not necessitate loop disassembly, but if I have to, then I have to. It will obviously be drained. Everything else (radiators, pump/reservior) is screwed into the case, and I don't think the CPU block is heavy or large enough to warrant removal.

PC 2 (partner's workstation): Corsair 400Q, Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3, single GPU. Less complicated overall, but the CPU cooler needs to be removed. GPU too. There's a single 3.5" HDD in there with important data on it - would it be safe to leave it in the (screwless) drive caddy?

PC 3 (HTPC/NAS): Fractal Design Node 304, 4 3.5" HDDs, CM Hyper TX3 Evo (92mm tower cooler), no GPU. I'm thinking this can be left pretty much alone - the HDDs are securely mounted, the motherboard is vertical (i.e. no major stress on it from the cooler from being moved around), and the case is small enough to fit into pretty much any box.

Any tips are much appreciated.
 

Chaba422

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i remember when i was younger and went with my PC to friend house, my pc was in backseat of a car with no cardbox or anything, and it was probably moving slightly back n forth left n right, building up static electricity on backseat of car, when i plugged in PC nothing happened, it was dead AF, like whole god damn PC, so i guess you REALLY need cardboard boxes and some type of foam or something to protect
 
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i remember when i was younger and went with my PC to friend house, my pc was in backseat of a car with no cardbox or anything, and it was probably moving slightly back n forth left n right, building up static electricity on backseat of car, when i plugged in PC nothing happened, it was dead AF, like whole god damn PC, so i guess you REALLY need cardboard boxes and some type of foam or something to protect
I once killed my PC just by carrying it from my dorm room to a common area for an impromptu LAN party. About 200m, down four flights of stairs, blinked on for a fraction of a second when I tried turning it on, then nothing. Of course back then I didn't know to confirm that everything was still connected as it should have been, so it might have been salvageable - I'll never know.

I sincerely doubt static killed your PC though - unless it was in a 100% plastic case the components should be more than sufficiently shielded from external sources of static. And the susceptibility of PC components to static discharge is generally dramatically overstated. It's far more likely something (like a RAM stick or GPU) came loose slightly and caused the PC to not work, or that physical stress damaged something either in the PSU or on the motherboard.
 
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If the forces involved in moving the thing are so strong that they can incur some sort of mechanical damage then I doubt some foam can prevent that.
 
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emptying your loop, and plug out the card, put it in separated box

for hdd if you could bring it by your own
 
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If the forces involved in moving the thing are so strong that they can incur some sort of mechanical damage then I doubt some foam can prevent that.
The leverage of a heavy GPU or CPU cooler on a PCIe slot or CPU socket area is anything but trivial, so even relatively small movements can cause damage. That's why I'm asking about this in the first place - bringing the PCs myself is not an option, so they need to be securely packaged.

emptying your loop, and plug out the card, put it in separated box

for hdd if you could bring it by your own
Yeah, I'm thinking I'll do that for the HDD in PC 2. Barely any extra work. As I said I was hoping to not have to disassemble the loop, but I guess I might have to ... :ohwell:
 
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The leverage of a heavy GPU or CPU cooler on a PCIe slot or CPU socket area is anything but trivial
I know, that's why I am saying that I doubt some foam or cardboard can prevent it. I don't think anything will break but you are taking your chances by not dissembling it.
 
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Better sweat for now than sorry then since for today buying new hardware is cheaper than the data inside

and don't forget to disassemble something that heavy, like the cooler, you don't wanna risk the board when transporting it with heavy cooler
 

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Am I the only mad man who keeps the cardboard box/foam that the PC case came in for travel purposes?
 
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Probably, though depending on how old the purchase is I have anywhere between 5~15 years old stuff lying around for packing. The biggest issue over here is moisture, at times you literally get a deluge & humidity+temps shorten the "boxes" shelf life considerably.
 
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Am I the only mad man who keeps the cardboard box/foam that the PC case came in for travel purposes?
I think a lot of people do, but given the size of our current apartment, that hasn't been an option. Those boxes aren't small. (It's about time we moved!)
 
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Piece of cake!

Being military all my life (born in Air Force hospital, dependent until I joined, 24+ years active duty, and now retired military - so yes, all my life), I have moved, and I know people who have moved countless times, from across town to 1/2 around the world and back again. Many lessons have been learned.

If the computers will remain in your possession the whole time, laying them flat on their right side so the weight of the heavy CPU heatsink fan (HSF) assembly is sitting on top of the CPU is all you need to do - other than avoid going airborne over railroad tracks!

If these computers will be out of your possession, then my best advice is to remove the heavy CPU HSF assemblies. Leave the CPU mounted. If you have heavy graphics cards, remove them too. The rest should be fine. Just make sure all the component mounting screws are tight.

If the movers drop kick the computer during transit after that, the computer is likely to survive with no problems, assuming it is not crushed. If crushed, then any damage should be obvious.

There is no need to pack the inside of the case with foam, cardboard, shipping peanuts, etc. In fact, I advise against shipping peanuts and foam and the like because of the massive amount of static they always generate. You need to avoid ESD, not generate it.

TIP: If you feel you must pack the interiors with something, pack them with wash clothes, towels, socks, underwear, kids clothes or other soft items you will be shipping any way. If the cost of the move is coming out of your pocket, the fewer boxes you ship, the better.

Once at your new destination, thoroughly clean the mating surfaces, apply a fresh, thin as possible but thorough new layer of TIM (thermal interface material), and remount the HSF assembly.

And of course, back up your computers BEFORE the move, and keep that backup copy in a separate place from the computers.

Am I the only mad man who keeps the cardboard box/foam that the PC case came in for travel purposes?
The original box would be nice to protect the exterior finish, but it should be noted those boxes were designed to protect an empty case - not a case that has been fully loaded with heavy drives, a heavy PSU and more.

I break down my boxes so they don't take up too much room in my store room. But another lesson learned over the years is boxes that are stored for long period of time can degrade. If stored out in a garage, shed, or uninsulated attic space for example, they can start to decompose, losing strength and integrity. This is especially true if exposed to and they become meals for insects and other critters. :(

If you do pack the computers in your own boxes, do NOT tape them closed! If you do, the movers will mark those boxes as "User packed" and that releases them from any liability should the contents be damaged during transport. Let them tape the boxes shut.
 
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I don't let movers touch my shiz in the first place. All of my TV's, audio equipement and PCs (that are not in original boxes) go in my SUV. I have 90% of the boxes/packaging to help with this (especially chassis boxes).

That said, I'd worry most about GPUs and heavy things hanging off so be sure they are vertical. Also, tighten down any screws to limit movement.

There are 'custom' pads you can put inside the chassis as well. I think they are like expanding foam... may be worth it.
 
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I've only ever moved aircooled PC's. I remove the GPU and if its a big twin tower cooler i remove that as well.
 
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Piece of cake!

Being military all my life (born in Air Force hospital, dependent until I joined, 24+ years active duty, and now retired military - so yes, all my life), I have moved, and I know people who have moved countless times, from across town to 1/2 around the world and back again. Many lessons have been learned.

If the computers will remain in your possession the whole time, laying them flat on their right side so the weight of the heavy CPU heatsink fan (HSF) assembly is sitting on top of the CPU is all you need to do - other than avoid going airborne over railroad tracks!

If these computers will be out of your possession, then my best advice is to remove the heavy CPU HSF assemblies. Leave the CPU mounted. If you have heavy graphics cards, remove them too. The rest should be fine. Just make sure all the component mounting screws are tight.

If the movers drop kick the computer during transit after that, the computer is likely to survive with no problems, assuming it is not crushed. If crushed, then any damage should be obvious.

There is no need to pack the inside of the case with foam, cardboard, shipping peanuts, etc. In fact, I advise against shipping peanuts and foam and the like because of the massive amount of static they always generate. You need to avoid ESD, not generate it.

TIP: If you feel you must pack the interiors with something, pack them with wash clothes, towels, socks, underwear, kids clothes or other soft items you will be shipping any way. If the cost of the move is coming out of your pocket, the fewer boxes you ship, the better.

Once at your new destination, thoroughly clean the mating surfaces, apply a fresh, thin as possible but thorough new layer of TIM (thermal interface material), and remount the HSF assembly.

And of course, back up your computers BEFORE the move, and keep that backup copy in a separate place from the computers.

The original box would be nice to protect the exterior finish, but it should be noted those boxes were designed to protect an empty case - not a case that has been fully loaded with heavy drives, a heavy PSU and more.

I break down my boxes so they don't take up too much room in my store room. But another lesson learned over the years is boxes that are stored for long period of time can degrade. If stored out in a garage, shed, or uninsulated attic space for example, they can start to decompose, losing strength and integrity. This is especially true if exposed to and they become meals for insects and other critters. :(

If you do pack the computers in your own boxes, do NOT tape them closed! If you do, the movers will mark those boxes as "User packed" and that releases them from any liability should the contents be damaged during transport. Let them tape the boxes shut.
Packing the cases with clothes sounds like a very good idea (non-synthetic materials and no wool, obviously). I'll definitely consider doing that. After removing heavy components, obviously. (I'm considering just taking my GPU out of the slot, not removing it completely to avoid disassembling the water loop, but wrapping it thoroughly to avoid it bumping around. With the case crammed full of clothes that sounds safe enough for me, though I'll have to try it out to see if I feel confident enough to leave it at that. Thanks for the input :)

I doubt what you say about taping boxes shut applies outside of the US though. Besides, everything will be packed by us, and our insurance covers moving damage.
I don't let movers touch my shiz in the first place. All of my TV's, audio equipement and PCs (that are not in original boxes) go in my SUV. I have 90% of the boxes/packaging to help with this (especially chassis boxes).

That said, I'd worry most about GPUs and heavy things hanging off so be sure they are vertical. Also, tighten down any screws to limit movement.

There are 'custom' pads you can put inside the chassis as well. I think they are like expanding foam... may be worth it.
I would have preferred to move all the fragile stuff myself, but that's not an option when the place we're moving to is a 2-3-day drive away in another country, we don't have a car, renting one would be wildly expensive (much more expensive than the movers!), and we're flying there. I mentioned Instapak in the OP, but sadly I can't get that in any type of reasonable quantity, so it's out of the question. Seems like Bill's clothing tip might have solved that part though, now it's just down to finding something reasonably sturdy and large enough to fit the cases well.
 
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I doubt what you say about taping boxes shut applies outside of the US though.
All I can say to that is I used to be stationed in England, Germany and Portugal (Azores). And when returning back to the States, local movers were contracted to pack and crate our household goods. I have lots of electronics (home audio equipment, TVs and computer equipment) and I kept all the original boxes too. But with 100% certainty, I can tell you with each of those moves, if I taped shut the boxes, I gave up the mover's/packer's responsibility for the contents of those boxes!

So I recommend you pack your electronics in the original boxes, if you have them. But let the packers tape/seal them shut. If you insist on taping them shut yourself, I urge you to read your moving contract carefully so you understand your claim rights should one of the boxes fall off the truck.

As for your insurance, verify with them your coverage covers "international" moves. You may need to buy a supplement.
 

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I don't let movers touch my shiz in the first place. All of my TV's, audio equipement and PCs (that are not in original boxes) go in my SUV. I have 90% of the boxes/packaging to help with this (especially chassis boxes).

That said, I'd worry most about GPUs and heavy things hanging off so be sure they are vertical. Also, tighten down any screws to limit movement.

There are 'custom' pads you can put inside the chassis as well. I think they are like expanding foam... may be worth it.
Instapack, I think is the big name in that game, and is likely the best idea. I mean if system builders are using it across the industry to ship to reviewers and buyers, while offering a warranty, thats what i would go with.
 
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Instapack, I think is the big name in that game, and is likely the best idea. I mean if system builders are using it across the industry to ship to reviewers and buyers, while offering a warranty, thats what i would go with.
Apparently this needs sying a third time: the only Instapak I can get my hands on is in crates of 36 bags each. At the very most I would need two. Not an option.
 
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I start by pulling gpu and cpu heatsink. Like Bill i wrap the case in towels and blankets if i dont have the boxes. If you have glass panels stand the case up inside a box and pack it full of towels etc. Make sure your movers understand how fragile they are prior to them putting them on the truck. You shouldnt have any problems if your moving company is reputable. Dealing with fragile gear is what they do afterall.
GL!
 

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I once killed my PC just by carrying it from my dorm room to a common area for an impromptu LAN party. About 200m, down four flights of stairs, blinked on for a fraction of a second when I tried turning it on, then nothing. Of course back then I didn't know to confirm that everything was still connected as it should have been, so it might have been salvageable - I'll never know.
Something must have snapped somewhere. Bad luck plain and simple.

I've moved tons of PC's across long distances (in boxes in truck or backseats of cars) and nothing has ever broken. The good advice has already been given: remove heavy stuff (CPU coolers and GPU's) and pack in big boxes with plenty of stuffing (plastic stuff, clothes, newspapers, other smaller boxes).

Another option is to send it as a pallet. I don't know how it works in Norway, but in Sweden a pallet cost about 800SEK to ship. Ask nicely at any bigger shop for one and they'll give it to you (because they are likely drowning in the damn things). Ask even nicer for the collars and someone might have some for you, and maybe even a wooden board to have at the bottom and another one for the top. Protect the cases with cardboard and use spennbånd (no idea what they're called in english) to secure them, and make sure you get a bit of extra freight insurance. Then you ship it with DHL or whatever you have.

All I can say to that is I used to be stationed in England, Germany and Portugal (Azores). And when returning back to the States, local movers were contracted to pack and crate our household goods. I have lots of electronics (home audio equipment, TVs and computer equipment) and I kept all the original boxes too. But with 100% certainty, I can tell you with each of those moves, if I taped shut the boxes, I gave up the mover's/packer's responsibility for the contents of those boxes!

So I recommend you pack your electronics in the original boxes, if you have them. But let the packers tape/seal them shut. If you insist on taping them shut yourself, I urge you to read your moving contract carefully so you understand your claim rights should one of the boxes fall off the truck.

As for your insurance, verify with them your coverage covers "international" moves. You may need to buy a supplement.
I too have never, ever heard of anything like this. Good detail to check up though just to be extra sure.
 

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Apparently this needs sying a third time: the only Instapak I can get my hands on is in crates of 36 bags each. At the very most I would need two. Not an option.
Most shipping locations (fed ex, ups, post office, etc) sell them in single bag form. Sometimes repeating it means you need to look harder. FYI, just look at Amazon, you can get single bags.
 
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Clothes are best, but you may not have enough for a move. (I'm sure you have more than just computers: but also dishes, vases, pots, etc. etc).

There was a time when newspaper was common. Alas, it is no longer the age of newspaper. Instead, we have to buy Kraft Packing Paper these days for void-fill.

Kraft Packing paper is pretty cheap and probably available everywhere.
 
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This will probably start a long winded reply from Bill, but if using a removalist, pack your items of value yourself!
Do not let them pack boxes if there are items you don't want to go missing, as 5 finger discount shopping is common among them.
 
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Most shipping locations (fed ex, ups, post office, etc) sell them in single bag form. Sometimes repeating it means you need to look harder. FYI, just look at Amazon, you can get single bags.
Not Norwegian post offices, sadly. They typically stock a few boxes, bubble wrap, various envelopes, and that's it. I know single bags can be found on Amazon US, but there's no guarantee whatsoever I'll get them in time, not to mention that the price will be ridiculous due to customs processing fees etc. So sadly that isn't an option.
This will probably start a long winded reply from Bill, but if using a removalist, pack your items of value yourself!
Do not let them pack boxes if there are items you don't want to go missing, as 5 finger discount shopping is common among them.
We're packing everything ourselves, so no worries there. The move is expensive enough without paying for that, and besides, I wouldn't trust anyone to pack things properly.
Clothes are best, but you may not have enough for a move. (I'm sure you have more than just computers: but also dishes, vases, pots, etc. etc).

There was a time when newspaper was common. Alas, it is no longer the age of newspaper. Instead, we have to buy Kraft Packing Paper these days for void-fill.

Kraft Packing paper is pretty cheap and probably available everywhere.
Dishes and stuff will be wrapped in some sort of paper - clothes are too bulky and slippery for that use. There should be no issue with not having enough clothes to wrap everything :p My movers sell huge bundles of thin packing paper for cheap, so I'll likely just get one of those.

Something must have snapped somewhere. Bad luck plain and simple.
Absolutely. Or something just came loose without being visible. Either way, it sucked, but 18-year-old me didn't have the skills to troubleshoot properly.

I've moved tons of PC's across long distances (in boxes in truck or backseats of cars) and nothing has ever broken. The good advice has already been given: remove heavy stuff (CPU coolers and GPU's) and pack in big boxes with plenty of stuffing (plastic stuff, clothes, newspapers, other smaller boxes).

Another option is to send it as a pallet. I don't know how it works in Norway, but in Sweden a pallet cost about 800SEK to ship. Ask nicely at any bigger shop for one and they'll give it to you (because they are likely drowning in the damn things). Ask even nicer for the collars and someone might have some for you, and maybe even a wooden board to have at the bottom and another one for the top. Protect the cases with cardboard and use spennbånd (no idea what they're called in english) to secure them, and make sure you get a bit of extra freight insurance. Then you ship it with DHL or whatever you have.Shi
Shipping them on a pallet might be a decent idea, but it's likely both too expensive and too much of a hassle, especially given that I'm crossing a border (you have no idea how many forms you need to fill out to bring your own stuff to a different country when moving!).
 

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Shipping them on a pallet might be a decent idea, but it's likely both too expensive and too much of a hassle, especially given that I'm crossing a border (you have no idea how many forms you need to fill out to bring your own stuff to a different country when moving!).
Ahh missed the border thing. Plain boxes is probably the best bet.
 
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