Do you have an old computer that is collecting dust in your basement? Maybe you’ve upgraded since, or maybe you’ve inherited an old machine from one of you relatives. Perhaps you picked up an old laptop at a garage sale that you never actually found a use for. Many of us are the same, with old devices unnecessarily filling up our basements and closets.
It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll find a use for an old computer eventually. The truth is, though, you’re likely never going to be able to bring yourself to do anything with it. If this is you, here’s how you can clear out that clutter and get rid of your old computers.
1. Make sure it isn’t useless.
In our consumerist society, it is too easy to just trash something and move on. Try to avoid getting rid of that old computer if you don’t have to. There are numerous things that your old computer can be used for if it still has some life left.
If it still boots up but runs slowly, consider upgrading it with some new RAM or a lighter operating system to speed it up and make it usable again.
If it’s still usable but you have no use for it, give it to someone that can use it, like a student or child. Many schools will accept machines for computer technology classes in which students are taught how to take apart and repair computers.
Check around locally to see if there are any donation programs that give old computers to a good cause!
Note: Before giving your computer to anybody, be sure to wipe any data that you may have left behind that could be used against you. Continue reading to learn how to protect yourself before doing anything with your old computer.
2. Tear it down for parts.
If that old computer doesn’t boot up, your computer is likely broken. This doesn’t mean the whole machine is junk, however. A computer is made up of several components and it won’t run if one or more of those components is faulty. This means some of those computer parts are actually still perfectly usable!
Do some research to learn the components of your computer so you can figure out what parts might be salvageable. The hard drive, motherboard, RAM, the graphics or network card, the power supply, or even the tower case itself may be in good shape.
If those parts still work, why not use them? If you have several units, you can likely Frankenstein together a machine that will work.
There is some risk involved though, so make sure you know what you are doing before you open up the tower. Remove the power supply carefully and make sure that any capacitors are discharged before you begin. You don’t want to give yourself a nasty shock!
3. Sell it to a computer shop.
If you’re not comfortable with working on a computer, many independent computer repair shops will take that old computer off of your hands to use for spare parts. These shops are able to provide affordable repairs because of the amount of parts they are able to refurbish.
You likely won’t get a lot of money for your broken computers, but $20 is better than the zero dollars you would get back for dumping it! On a side note, you should avoid dumping your old computer in the trash. The next solution will tell you why.
4. Don’t throw it in the trash, recycle it.
If you’ve decided that there really is no use for any part of that computer, you should realize that you shouldn’t simply throw it into your trashcan. It may seem like the easiest solution, but the landfill where most of your trash ends up is no place for electronic waste. Electronic waste, or e-waste, is full of dangerous chemicals and heavy metals that can leech out and damage surrounding water supplies and animal life.
The best option for e-waste is to drop it off at a recycling facility that is equipped to deal with it. Some retailers will have receptacles to accept your e-waste, which they then bring to the recycling facilities for you. A quick Google search will help you to find a nearby place where you can dispose of that computer quickly and safely. Don’t harm others with inconsiderate dumping!
5. Don’t forget to wipe the data!
Before you get rid of any computer, or any device in which you’ve stored personal data, be sure to wipe the memory. Evil individuals often prey on individuals who have forgotten this step. Old computers often contain bank or credit card information, social security numbers, or account login information. It doesn’t take much for a person with bad intentions to steal an identity and wipe out a bank account or max out a credit card.
Protect yourself by wiping that hard drive clean. Simply reformatting a disk does not completely remove the data that’s on it. Erasing the data on the disk does not actually get rid of it: the disk needs to be rewritten with new information overtop of the old data. To perform this stage properly you will need to visit a hard drive refurbishing centre that you trust, or do it yourself with software designed specifically to wipe data.
If you have high-level information such as banking information or worse stored on a hard drive, your best option is to visit the refurbishing centre. If it is mid to low-level information that you are looking to erase, software such as “Active © KillDisk” and “Softpedia DP Wiper” are free and effective methods.
Always make sure that you really do want to get rid of that old computer before following through with it. If it still works, and you look hard enough, there is likely still a use for that old machine. If you do decide that your best option is just to get rid of it, look into selling it to a computer parts store. Otherwise, you need to recycle it. Whatever you decide to do with your old computer, be safe and make sure that it does not contain any personal data. You don’t want your old computer to fall into the wrong hands if you have personal information stored on it!