How to Pack a Computer for Moving or Shipping

A desktop  computer on a table.

Laptops, desktop computers, gaming PCs, all-in-one computers, and more – computers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and serve a variety of essential functions in this digital age. Many people rely on personal computers each day for work, school, entertainment, and much more, making them valuable pieces of equipment in many ways.

When it comes to moving or shipping a computer, don’t let the compact nature fool you. It’s crucial you take time and use professional grade supplies and packing methods recommended by the experts. Before you end up with a cracked monitor or damaged hard drive, see how to pack a computer or laptop for moving or shipping the right way.

1. Gather Computer Packing Materials

No matter what you’re packing, step one is almost always to get the right packing supplies for your item(s). Computers are no different. Whether moving or shipping, you need a sturdy box, wrapping material, anti-static cushioning, and void fill for immobilization. Below you’ll find computer packing materials offered by U-Haul that are useful for moving, storage, or shipping.

Best Boxes for Packing a Computer

If you no longer have the manufacturer’s box, you will need to get a new box for your computer and/or its accessories. When selecting a box, be sure it’s (1) large enough to fit your item and three inches of packing material on all sides with plenty of void fill and (2) double walled instead of single. U-Haul specialty moving boxes are great for packing computers and computer accessories because they come in a variety of sizes and are double walled for extra protection. Below is a list of common computer components and the box we recommend you use to pack and move that item.  

Pro tip:

All the products mentioned here can be picked up at a U-Haul Store near you for FREE or shipped to your doorstep today with Same-Day delivery.

Monitor Box

If you need to pack a large monitor, consider using a monitor/TV box. These specialty moving boxes are designed to fit modern flat screen monitors, like LED gaming monitors and all-in-one computers. The Medium TV Moving Box Kit is ideal for packing computer monitors between 27 and 40 inches. The two heavy-duty boxes are adjustable to accommodate a variety of screen sizes.

PC Packing Foam/Packing Peanuts

Use packing foam/packing peanuts to restrict movement and immobilize items in the box. This is a crucial part of the process, as boxes often shift on the moving or delivery truck. Biodegradable Packing Peanuts are an easy-to-use void fill that’s also safe for the environment and anti-static, so your valuable electronics won’t be damaged by static electricity during transport.

Bubble Cushion Wrap

Bubble cushion wrap, like Enviro-Bubble®, keeps items safe by isolating and padding items inside a moving box. Thoroughly wrapping your items in bubble cushion is the easiest way you can supply strong protection while moving, storing, or shipping.

Anti-Static Covers and Bags

As mentioned before, static electricity can do a number on electronic devices like computers. Using anti-static packing material, like a Computer Bag Kit and Anti-Static TV Cover, is an effortless way to protect your devices from dust, moisture, and harmful static electricity during transport.

Tape and Other Materials

Other items that will help move or ship your computer set up successfully: box/packaging tape for moving, shipping/strapping tape for shipping, box markers, fragile labels, and several small bags.

2. Dissemble Your Set Up

Before you start, consider backing up important files on an external hard drive, if you find it necessary, when you’re ready begin tearing your set up down. Obviously, if you’re packing a laptop or tablet, this process is straightforward. In which case, you can skip to the next step.

For desktop/all-in-one set ups, be sure your computer is properly shut down before unplugging. Detach accessories like the power cord, mouse, keyboard, docking station, monitor stands, and other removable components. Unplugged cords and small accessories should be placed in a small plastic bag. Coil cords as best as possible to save space and keep things organized.

Pro tip: if you’re a tech novice, consider taking photos of how everything is set up before you tear down so it’s easier to connect at your new home later.

A computer tower wrapped in packing supplies inside a U-Haul moving box.

A computer monitor wrapped in packing supplies inside a U-Haul moving box.

3. Wrap and Cushion Your Items

First cover your items with an anti-static cover or seal in a computer bag for protection from static electricity and dust, then wrap with bubble cushion. Keep large items like the monitor and tower upright and wrap in concentric circles from the bottom to the top. For flat equipment like scanners and drawing tablets, lay the equipment on the bubble cushion and wrap it like a gift. For best protection, wrap each item about two to three times around and secure the bubble cushion with tape.

4. Box and Add Void Fill

A photo of the

Add a few sheets of bubble cushion to the bottom of the box for added shock absorption. Pour several inches of packing peanuts into the bottom of the box. Firmly press items in the packing peanuts, then fill the remaining space with more packing peanuts. You can place cords and other bagged items in the empty spaces. Avoid over-packing your box. Consider packing large components like the monitor and tower in separate boxes.

After the items are boxed, give the box a firm shake to see if you need to add more peanuts. If there’s too much movement, add more void fill. Sheets of bubble cushion can also be used to restrict movement if more material is needed. Note: If you’re using the Medium Flat Screen TV Box, refer to this guide to see how to pack a monitor for moving.

Pro tip:

Consider using the box-in-box method (pictured above) for computer towers and monitors. Learn more about how to box fragile items for added protection during moving, storage, and shipping.

H tape method
'H' Tape Method

5. Seal the Box

Use box tape to secure the top and bottom of the box in the shape of an ‘H’. Use multiple strips of tape, leaving some overhang on all sides to ensure a tight seal. Use a box marker to label right side up. If you're packing for moving, label the contents of the box.

If you’re packing for shipping, add a fragile label or two. It’s also important to tape the hand holes shut on the inside and outside of the box so the box is sealed tightly at every opening. Since the hand holes come perforated on U-Haul boxes (opposed to completely cut out), this is a simpler task.

Packing a Screen in a Monitor Box for Shipping

Shipping a monitor in a telescoping TV box isn’t recommended. However, with proper immobilization and plenty of cushion, it can be done successfully. Start by wrapping the screen with anti-static TV cover. Then wrap completely in a moving blanket, then in large enviro-bubble, followed by a foam TV cover. Once the foam corners are attached and the TV is in the box, fill all void space with crumpled packing paper, clothing, packing peanuts, or crumpled enviro-bubble. Tape hand holes shut on the inside and outside and seal the box vertically and horizontally with strapping/shipping tape.

A computer monitor packed in a Medium Flat Screen TV Moving Box.

How to Ship a Computer or Laptop

Shipping electronics like a desktop computer or laptop is a straightforward process. After your item is packed safely using the steps above all that’s left to do is drop it off with your preferred courier. Keep these laptop/computer shipping tips in mind so you package arrives as intended.

Choose a Carrier – The big names – USPS, UPS, and FedEx – all have something a bit different to offer. If you’re looking for cheap shipping, consider the postal service. For more shipping options, like international shipping and express, consider a major courier.

Interested in discounted shipping rates? Collegeboxes – a division of U-Haul – offers discounted direct shipping rates for anyone who signs up. Learn more about direct shipping with Collegeboxes.

Clearly Label the Box – A shipping label isn’t going to be much help if it’s attached to the bottom of the box, or if falls off during transit. Be sure yours is attached to the box in a visible area. You may also want to affix ‘fragile’ and ‘this side up’ labels as well.

Consider Shipping Insurance – Most carriers offer shipping insurance in exchange for a small fee. If you’re shipping a valuable gaming PC, for example, consider adding insurance to your order. Keep in mind the more valuable the item, the higher the fee.

Research Battery Regulations – If your device has a battery, be sure you’re not breaking any battery shipping regulations by dropping it off in the mail. Typically, you can send one lithium-ion battery. Check with your carrier to see what you need to do to ship your item.

Ready to get packing? U-Haul has everything you need to pack a variety of items for moving, storage, or shipping. Find boxes, packing supplies, shipping supplies, and more and get packing today.

Need more information on packing a box for shipping?

Be sure to check out our extensive guide on How To Pack a Box for Shipping.

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