The Only Guide to Packing and Moving Electronics You’ll Ever Need

Christa Baxter
Researcher & Writer
Read More
July 01, 2022
5 min read

Packing up electronics can feel like herding cats—but with a little planning, you can rein in the chaos. If you don’t want to pay professional movers to pack up all your computers, cables, and TV for you, never fear. These steps will keep your electronics organized and ready to set up in your new home, no matter what kind of moving company you hire.


Getting your electronic items ready to move

A little forethought and planning here goes a long way. Before you start packing away your flat screen TV or computer, spend some time getting everything in order.

  • Gather together all your user manuals: If you don’t have them, download them from the manufacturer’s website.
  • Insure your electronics: Consider getting transit protection coverage (or moving insurance) to cover your electronics and other items during your move.
  • Add tracking to your mobile phones and electronics: Add tracker apps and chips like Tile and TrackR to your electronics so if a phone  or laptop gets misplaced, it’s easier to find.

Packing your electronics

You really can move all of your electronic items without damage or problems—even if you're moving overseas. It’s all about preparing and packing your devices properly—including removing unnecessary items from your devices.

  • Take batteries out of all electronics and remotes so they don’t overheat and leak. Keep all your batteries together in one place.
  • Charge up all your rechargeable batteries a couple of days before you move.
  • Eject CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays from your various devices and tape the drives shut.
  • Remove toner cartridges from laser printers and secure them in a plastic, dust-proof bag.
  • Eject other printer cartridges from non-laser printers and secure the printhead in place.

Labeling your items and cables

One of the best ways to prepare for moving is to label everything. Unplugging all of your electronics and labeling the cords and cables can be time-consuming, but it makes it much easier to set everything up quickly in your new home. You can follow this process for computers, stereo systems, TV, streaming devices, Blu-rays, and more.

  1. Get some small colored stickers (about eight different colors should be fine), slightly larger white stickers, and fine-tipped pens.
  2. Before you pull out any cables (such as power, video, audio, etc.), put a colored sticker on each end of the cable that goes into your devices.
  3. Put the same colored sticker next to the cable sockets on each device.
  4. Wrap a white sticker around the cable and write the two devices it connects on it (e.g. Blu-ray player/cable box).
  5. If it’s a power supply or power cord, write the item it powers on a sticker on the power supply.
  6. Remove the cable, coil it, put an elastic band around it, and put it in a sandwich bag with a label.
  7. After you’ve put several cables in each bag, secure them to one of the items they belong with.

You might want to take photos of the cables before you unplug everything, for reference. You can even take photos throughout unplugging so you can refer to the photos when you’re reconnecting everything.


Prepare your computer for moving

You don’t want to lose any valuable memories or vital documents on your computer, so here’s a way to minimize problems.

  • Back up your important information and data: Before you pack your computer, back up all of your important information onto an external drive or, even better, into the cloud.
  • Make sure your computer passwords are hard to guess: In the (very) unlikely event your tablet or laptop gets stolen when you move, it’s vital to protect your personal data. You can use password managers like LastPass to create random passwords for every website and account, so if someone gets into one, they won’t be able to use the same password to get into everything else.
  • Vacuum and pack the inside of your computer: If you have a desktop PC, you know how dusty they can get. Before you pack, use a vacuum cleaner extension to remove any dust. This will stop dust moving around and getting trapped when the computer is in transit. You might also want to remove any cards from the motherboard (as long as you know what you’re doing). Make sure everything inside the computer case is secure by tightening all screws.
  • Pack your computer: Use the same method for packing your computer as your other electronic items, but don’t use packing chips (use packing paper instead). Packing chips can cause static electricity to build up, which is very bad for sensitive computer hardware and could stop your computer from working altogether. Remove any dongles, cables, and other items from your computer before you pack it.

Packing tips for protecting electronic devices

Start by reading through your user manual to see if the manufacturer has any guidance on how to pack and move your items.

The very best way to move fragile electronics is in the manufacturer’s original packaging. If those boxes became kids’ forts, a play area for your cat, or simply got consigned to the recycling bin, don’t worry—you can contact a manufacturer to see if they’ll send you an original box. If that doesn’t work, you’ll just need to be extra careful with packing your electronics. If you need to use your own packing, follow these tips:

  • Cushion the top and bottom of the box with towels or bubble wrap and pack everything inside securely so it doesn’t move, and fill in any void spaces with bubble wrap or other packing materials.
  • Wrap large items in bubble wrap. If it has a screen, protect it with a towel and another layer of bubble wrap. Place cardboard around the item. Cover everything with plastic sheeting or plastic wrap.
  • Never use newspaper to pack screens. Newsprint can get onto the screen and newspaper can easily scratch screens.

Make a list of the items in each box, and cross-reference your home inventory to make sure you got everything. Then mark any boxes as “fragile” and carefully supervise them when they’re being moved.


Reinstalling your electronics in your new home

Extend and protect

Now is a great time to buy any new extension cords or power strips. If you’re plugging in a computer or other sensitive electronic equipment, think about getting a surge-protected power strip. This will protect your electronic equipment from sudden power spikes and help it last longer.

Be careful unpacking

Unpack boxes in the rooms where you’ll be installing your electronic devices. When you unpack, make sure you go through all of your packing materials to find any small items like cables or screws. If you’ve made an inventory of your boxes, check that everything you expect is in the box.

Don’t throw away any packing material until everything is up and running properly. I’ve accidentally thrown a computer mouse away—twice.

One of the trickiest parts of unpacking and reinstalling electronics is making sure everything is connected together and working properly. Here are my recommendations to make the process as easy as possible.

  1. Unpack one electronic item at a time, starting with the one that has the most cable connections (likely your TV or computer).
  2. Unpack the cables associated with that device. Don’t unpack any other cables yet.
  3. Set the item up and plug the cables in. Use the colored dots, labels, and any photos to guide you.
  4. Once the item has been set up, test to see that it works.
  5. After that’s completed, unpack the next item and plug any cables in, test it and check that the two items you’ve connected work together.

This is the best approach because you’re testing as you go. If you have any problems, you’ll know it’s likely to be because of the item you’ve just plugged in, which makes troubleshooting much easier.

Setting up electronic items 

Once you’ve got everything tested and it’s all working, secure your cables together with zip ties. This will keep everything tidy and stops your cables from looking like a spaghetti monster.

Now it’s time to kick back, relax, and binge watch your favorite shows!

  • Set the item up and plug the cables in. Use the colored dots, labeling, and any photos to guide you.
  • Once the item has been set up, test to see that it works.
  • After that’s completed, unpack the next item and plug any cables in, test it and check that the two items you’ve connected work together.

This is the best approach because you’re testing as you go. If you have any problems, you’ll know it’s likely to be because of the item you’ve just plugged in, which makes troubleshooting much easier.

Once you’ve got everything tested and it’s all working, secure your cables together with zip ties. This will keep everything tidy and stops your cables looking like a spaghetti monster.

Now it’s time to settle in, kick back, relax, and binge-watch your favorite shows!

Christa Baxter
Written by
Christa Baxter
Christa Baxter has worked as an editor for more than eight years and specialized in moving content for the last three. She leads the Move.org content team in producing whip-smart moving tips and recs. After relocating four times in the last calendar year, she’s got strong opinions about moving best practices. (Just don’t ever pull a Marie Kondo and suggest she whittle down her personal library.) She earned a BA and MA in English with a minor in editing.