Hardware

Disposing of obsolete computer equipment


Every couple of years, because of hardware upgrades and repairs, I'm faced with hoards of old computer equipment. It's all stuff that's been filtered out of production, but it's still workable, usable, and, to some degree, even valuable, at least to the right person. For example, one would certainly think that a 19" flat screen CRT monitor with a crystal-clear and sharp image would be useful to someone. The only thing wrong with it is that it no longer suited the user's preference for a newer, sleeker, LCD flat panel monitor. 

We've been upgrading to the LCDs over the past few years, doing a certain number every year, or pretty much providing one upon user request. Taking a walk around my office I can spot only a handful of CRT monitors still in use. I have them on my servers (perhaps one shared among multiple servers); I still have CRT monitors on a couple of old DOS machines; and I have one each on a couple of community machines that serve unique functions. But that's about it. In fact, not one of my users currently has a CRT monitor on his/her desk. But I sure have a lot of CRTs in storage - and some very nice ones at that.

Since I had to install DVD drives when I upgraded to Vista, I have a pile of CD-R/Ws that I no longer use, not to mention a bunch of CD-ROM drives.  (But I just did mention them, didn't I?) I also upgraded a number of graphics cards, taking out the ones with 64MB and 128MB RAM, and replacing them with either 256MB or 512MB cards. PS2 mice and keyboards have given way to newer (and cleaner) USB devices with more features and sleeker designs. 

Those 128, 256, and even 512MB memory modules weren't adequate for a motherboard with only four memory slots, but with the need to provide 4GB of RAM; and if the motherboards weren't capable of supporting at least 4GB RAM, then the boards themselves - or the entire computer - was taken out of production. As such, there are a number of complete computers that aren't being used. Then, of course, we can throw in (or out) some hard drives that are all under 60GB. And what about those older and unused printers that might suffer from nagging paper jams, slow speed, unavailable drivers, or all of the above?

Being one who builds and maintains my own computers, there's certainly a need to keep some spare parts on the shelf. But more and more of the spare parts are only good for computers no longer in use. Besides, I have limited space, and I simply can't keep everything. When my work area starts to resemble a technological junkyard, it's simply time for much of this stuff to go.

The first thing I do with it is to take it into the lunch room, lay the obsolete equipment out on the tables, complete with all the original documentation and a brief note describing what it is, and we offer it to anyone in the company free of charge. It's just there's for the taking - all or part. We do get rid of a fair amount of stuff, but most of our users don't have a need for any of it either.

A few people have taken a monitor to replace an older or smaller one they use at home.  Some people have taken advantage of the RAM, especially the 512s. Someone might grab a 128MB graphics card to replace the 64MB he/she would like to upgrade from, but others don't want to bother. Moreover, a good number of them wouldn't even know how to replace such things (and I won't provide support).

Nonetheless, as a result, I have piles and piles of technology hardware to dispose of. Schools don't want parts and pieces, nor do they want older computers even if they are complete. Moreover, even if some organization did want the computer, they'd not have an operating system or any applications to go with it. There are a number of computer retailers that take old computer equipment for recycling, which is probably the route I'll take. Maybe I'll just back my truck up to the door, and pile it in. But it's all going - all of it.

It's time I make room on the shelves and countertops for the next generation of computer equipment that'll become obsolete a lot faster than I might have hoped. And in a couple of years, I'll be doing this all over again.

114 comments
BBPellet
BBPellet

We send everthing to the Christy Foundation, they let developmentally disabled people repair/disassemble them as a tool for training them for real world jobs! They will pretty much take anything electronic or mechanical in nature. www.christyfoundation.com

hrhold1
hrhold1

DONATE-there are numerous organizations with a use for old equipment and computers. Such as your local chapter of United way, community chest even some counties support half-way houses or assisted liviing homes for children and adults.

BlueKnight
BlueKnight

I'm surprised at how many people don't think of donating their old computer equipment. In our city, the library serves as home for Project Read. They are always very happy to receive used computer equipment and put it to good use teaching people to read. I had a system I built from scratch but it simply didn't have the speed I needed any longer. I donated the system along with all the software and driver CD's AND documentation I had on everything I put in it and they were very happy to receive it. Give your local library a call to see if they have any such need. Schools are also in need of good equipment. The best thing, is that your old equipment gets used by those who need it, and you get a tax deduction... sounds like a win, win deal to me. Just don't throw it in a dumpster... we don't need the toxins in our landfill.

mwhens
mwhens

I live and work in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. We have Rural schools that are in great need of old computers and of course spare parts. Some of the parts mentioned in the article are "modern" for this part of the world. Shouls you wish to dispose of computers...the Estern Cape Department of Educationwould be happy to accept them and distribute them to needy schools!

GaijinIT
GaijinIT

You need to think 'outside the box' a bit more. Schools in many poorer countries simply can't afford computers for their students, and your old PCs would be welcome (provided they still work) no matter how old they were. You can usually do this cost-free to you through the various UN-sponsored charity orgs or the target countries' embassies, very often their government (or ours) cover or at least help with the shipping costs and any costs your company may incur can be written off as charity donations. Wipe the hard drives, include some CDs loaded with an open-source OS and some apps and they will configure it themselves as an exercise (the only time you need to spend is making a couple master CDs, duping copies when needed, a few phone calls/emails/faxes to arrange delivery and you're good to go - make sure your boss knows what you're doing to avoid hassles & explain to him the company's PR benefits). I ship 2 or 3 (4.5 cubic meter) boxes every year to the Philippines from Japan @ about $100/box, and write it off my personal taxes. My boss just gives me the hardware after I explained what I'm gong to do with it. Win-win cost-wise, plus the satisfaction I get knowing I am helping children get a chance to learn what most of us take for granted. Many times the students and teachers send me thank you letters and pictures. Put a small logo/blurb on your home page noting your interest (and maybe inspiring others) in helping the less fortunate. You'll sleep better, believe me.

Ted_Schultz
Ted_Schultz

One Word "EBAY" I have sold all my old computer equipment on ebay. Old ram modules from the 90's and etc. Guess who bought those; NASA did, I couldnt believe that they would use this old stuff, but they do.

sunny.mitchell
sunny.mitchell

In Texas, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice takes donated equipment and refurbishes it for schools. They pick it up for free and use the equipment to give the inmates a skill they can use when they get out. It is a great program that helps out small school districts with limited technology budgets.

wizardofJ
wizardofJ

These are places that almost always have need of free computer equipment, and they will give you receipts that should be tax deductions ... also, I keep a few items in my store to sell outright - there is a lot of requests for used RAM, monitors, even keyboards and mice.

rob.gallegly
rob.gallegly

That's the new way to go in southern Illinois. We take in discarded computer equipment, refurbish what we can, and break down the rest for recycling. The refurbs we sell to charitable organizations and low-income families for a nominal price. What we recycle we break down to metals, plastics, and circuit boards.

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

Now, if you were in Victoria, Australia, i'd be around like a shot and help you dispose of all your little (and not so little) unwanted treasures. It never ceases to amaze me how people get conned into buying equipment that they don't really need. Let me put it this way - if the computer is doing the job it is meant to do why spend big bucks for a system that is most probably over-powered for the required job ie why fix something that's not broken. I can understand the needs of gamers etc but the normal joe doing a bit of word processing, playing a bit of music, doing a bit of internet browsing - well, bigger aint necessarily better. One of my clients (and friend) who is a wanna-be writer still uses an ancient 486 quite happily because it does all he wants it to do. All of my equipment (currently 3 computers networked and one stand-alone) has been built from salvaged parts (other peoples throw-aways). Lets face it there is still a lot of ancient equipment out there and since I do a lot of computer dis-assembling I find I have a lot of bits and pieces for which I have absolutely no use (really ancient, ancient stuff), so two or three times a year I get my friendly scrap metal dealer to come and collect these (he even pays me for the privilege) and take them to the local scrap metal yard where everything is recycled for the metals and plastics. My wife calls me a magpie (hoarder) but changes her mind when my scrap metal dealer hands me a nice new $100 bill for the load on his truck. Only problem being, of course, is that with blokes like my scrap metal dealer around a lot of stuff is taken directly to the scrap yard for recycling.

eugenefleming
eugenefleming

I volunteer for an organization that refurbishes donated used computer equipment to pass on to disabled folks who cannot afford to buy computer equipment. Most of the recipients are students of any age who need the equipment to get back to paid employment. The organization is a very small non-profit, so saying more about it would not serve a useful purpose here. I do not know of a national organization that does this but have been told there are local groups that rufurbish used equipment. Local groups serving disabled persons, the elderly or the blind may be able to steer donors to similar operations in your area. If anyone wishes to mail me hard drives or memory sticks, expecially PC100 or PC133 and the like, it would fill a couple of our biggest needs. Unfortunately, we have almost no funds but could reimburse some shipping costs. If interested, send private e-mail to: eugene.fleming@juno.com

j-mart
j-mart

We are fortunate in the city I live in, Christchurch, New Zealand. The local city council will accept unwanted equipment for no charge at their refuse collection stations an also a community run trust also disposes of and recycles unwanted electronic equipment. Another great use for old gear is learning aids for children. From a collection of surplus outdated computing equipment my son has developed an extensive skill set. He has repaired parts,built up machines, and a quite complex home network out a load of old rubbish. The gateway we use to the internet is an old P2 that was a reject from my place of work about five years ago. Running linux has worked great for a couple of years despite being well passed its use by date. Schools sometimes do not have the imagination to see the possibilities, put some obsolete equipment in class room much knowledge and usefull skills could be developed but students pulling machines apart, rebuilding them, making them into networks etc.

ggriffin
ggriffin

If you can find a charity/employee/school/friend/relative/worthy cause then go for it. Failing all else I have found EBay works really well. Put a sensible batch up (ie all your CRTs, all your printers or a box of CDRWs), start at 99p/cents for collection only. I've done this a few times (UK based) and though I may have to let them go for 99p, someone comes and takes them away for the cost of a few p listing fee and a couple of minutes on the web. With any kind of commercial head on, that's a bargain versus even getting a member of staff to run down to the tip/recycle centre. G

azmax64
azmax64

If you were in Dallas, I'ld say, I have a van and could help solve your problem in 4 hours. In all seriousness, Even places that take donations want you to deliver. Most communities, you can't just toss in the garbage either, because of the lead content.

tcrom2
tcrom2

Have you ever considered FreeCycle.org. It's a Yahoo group you log onto, pick the area that you live in and offer whatever you want to get rid of or request whatever you want. If someone wants something, they come to you to get it. It keeps a lot of computers and other stuff out of the landfills.

brian.mills
brian.mills

Where I work we send all our old equipment off to the main IT offices in another state. What they do with it I have no idea. At the tech school I attended, all of our Cisco routers were donated by a company that was upgrading. As far as I know they weren't too outdated at the time. I was just thankful to get some hands-on training, and wish I could find a couple or three routers like them so I could keep my skills up until I get into a job where I need them.

jdclyde
jdclyde

to fix peoples older systems that they are not ready to get rid of yet. they have that PII 400 that does everything they need it to do and is already configured with all the software they want, they don't WANT to start all over. And because a lot of the systems I have were trade-ins as part of someone elses upgrade to a new system, these are profit for nothing. can you say sweeeet? in a year or so, I will look for a place that does insurance work and sell the whole pile to them.

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

Our local high school had an E-waste fund raiser over the weekend. For a meager $10 donation I was able to get rid of four cases with MOBO's and floppy drives with power supplies, one 17 inch CRT monitor with partially melted plastic case and a crappy Canon printer. There is usually an E-waste collection point somewhere in the neighboring three cities on just about every weekend and the local garbage collection station does it every weekend. Don't just dump it, donate it.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Computers, all or part, monitors, hard drives, graphics cards, etc. What do you do with all your old stuff? Please share any and all ideas.

JCitizen
JCitizen

The address leads nowhere and a Google search for Cristy Foundation is a dead end also!?!

ham604
ham604

I heard an item on TV about Staples (the office supply place) taking old PC's and other stuff. Small items like a keyboard, mouse, cell phone, etc. are supposed to be free and a $10 charge for the PC/Monitor. Sounds like a good deal...

JCitizen
JCitizen

cosmic radiation standards, or are being tested to meet those standards. It being the better faster cheaper model that NASA is supposed to be operating under. Also I suspect any component is tested for EMP resistance to see what standard circuitry architecture will survive in nuclear war or severe environment resulting in loss of Van Allen belt protection from cosmic radiation.

SteveD2
SteveD2

You'll recover costs on the equipment and be able to go out for a nice dinner. The CRTs may not go so well because of shipping and handling costs but all the small stuff should sell in a "snap"!

JCitizen
JCitizen

The earlier they learn OS alternatives the better.

cdbryan1
cdbryan1

You could send them to my school! I provide tech support to a small (800 student) Elementary school that needs new technology. Our tech budget is very small (elementary school tech is low on the priority of the school board) but our children still need access to software and hardware to complete the curriculum requirements. I still have a windows 95 machine in daily use for access to the internet and programs run on the local server. Works fine for what they need. All my monitors are crts so I would love to have some lcds! My point? Elementary schools have a legitimate need and you can provide very valuable, to us, resources for children?s education.

j-mart
j-mart

I keep a look out for good cases. Many older cases are built nice and solid. If I find an old machine that is being retired with a good strong tidy case I will crab it as many of these older cases are more solid than some of the new ones

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

I can't get my hands on enough old equipment. My garage is stuffed full but I'll always accept more. I'll occasionally get a home gig fixing someone's PC that might be a PII or PIII and after fixing whatever it is I fix I'll charge them $30 for another 128-256 MB of RAM or maybe I'll put in another 20 GB HD for restores or backup. I've also recently used old laptops for picture frames. Yes, a little bit of wood for the frame and a old wireless NIC and presto you have a electronic picture frame perfect for hanging on the wall. Displays family pictures, calendar, news, etc. Find that at the store and they'll want hundreds of $$$. Also, old servers are perfect for many, many things. Web servers don't have to be particular very powerful. Plus, old equipment is perfect for me to explore alternative OS's like Linux, BSD, etc. Lastly, most game servers don't need to be very powerful. The game server isn't doing the graphics crunching. Just the timing and coordination (math really). I have an old PIV 1.2 Ghz running my America's Army server.

j-mart
j-mart

He wants to make a letterbox out of an old PC case

cgoulas
cgoulas

Some Linux distributions are light and can run effectively on old hardware if you set them up properly. Or you could actually build a PC for terminal services use only which would do the job effectively enough. Please forgive my grammar errors as English is not my native language. Christos

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

At my last company, I wiped the drives and donated the box, unless it was worth keeping as a hot spare. At that company there wasn't anything of particular sensitivity on the machine to start with. I work for the government now, and we permanently destroy all drives (crushed). HP, Dell and Alienware or any other major manufacturer charge a little extra on warranties to allow gov't organizations/corporations to keep drives replaced under warranty so that they can be destroyed as well. The rest of the machine is picked up by a recycling company (they actually pay us a small fee!) or donated to charities or organizations within the government that have low budgets. But as always, the hard drives are not shipped as I have never seen a disk wiping method that works. I have a friend who works with military intelligence (not James Bond, just run of the mill stuff) and I sent him a drive to play with (from a personal pc at home). It originally had a manufacturer copy of Xp on it...I formatted it twice, ran duke's boot and nuke on it (twice!?), ran a few other low level Linux utilities designed to low level write 1's 0's and random patterns over various runs AND I reformatted again and installed Red Hat on it. I locked Red Hat down as tight as I possibly could and sent him the disk. Less than two days later he handed me the disk back with the original manufacturer windows copy on it (functional none the less) and the original documents. He even took it a step further and handed me printed copies of files that I password encrypted in Word, Excel, Adobe, Corel and Open Office. Needless to say, I want a copy of the utility they have! Now my personal stuff I sell to someone willing to buy the junk I finally depart with!

AT Computers
AT Computers

I Collect Old Computers And Parts From Companys Who Retire Their Computer Equipment And Parts. I Rebuild 123 Computers Into 1 Working Computer, Then Donate These Computers To DAMAR INC., DAMAR Is A Facility Run By The State Of Indiana That Teaches Kids With Autistic, Mental, Retardation Problems How To Live In The Real World. I Donate These Computers I Scrap Out To Working Capacity To These Kids For Learning Purposes. I Also Donate Computers To Needy Families, Who Have Nothing, Low Income Families Too. If You Have Whole Computers or Parts Working or Non-Working, The Best Way To Get Rid Of Them Is To Donate or Send Them To Me And I Will Gladly Donate Them For You!

camilo
camilo

Most of the times we think that by just donating a old computer system to a church or organization is the best method of disposal our old systems, my personally opinion is indeed still is the best method. We dont want to just throw away in the garbage and wait for the garbage truck to come and pick it up(old pc's contains hundreds of dangerous chemicals that are dangerous to the enviroment) if we do, we must make sure is a non proffit organization, or if its a church we have to make sure that they will get the equipment to be used accordantly. Sometimes the city or township that you live in will have some kind of reclycling program for old equipment. Call your town to verify. For now reclycling or donation is much better than throwing out on garbage day.(at least we think we have done the right thing)

pchsiu
pchsiu

To JCitizen, Wow! Are you suggesting a trade scale donation? I don't know about shipping costs. I could enquire about it from import/export agents. But I am afraid I am not ready to do it on a trading scale. I refurbish old PCs for poor children and old people (who had no income but want a decent passtime(other than loitering in the park)) I know only as a hobby. If I want to do it on a large scale, I would find sponsorship from a charitable organisation first. For the time being, I give it out of my own pocket. If I should start a trade in old PC donation, there are more considerations. People may suspect that the Pcs would end up in a junk recycling backyard in China, etc.

tundraroamer
tundraroamer

If you are thinking of being green or helpful by donating old equipment, think again. Older equipment uses more power, especially CRT's. Giving that to a "poor" family will only result in costing them with higher electric bills. Let alone an internet connection, even if it's dial up. I would hate to see good money being spent on something they can't afford. And what happens to these old machines when the "new" owner is done with them? I doubt they will pay to dispose of them properly so into the waste stream it goes. It may actually be more energy efficient to properly recycle them then not. We end up paying for it one way or another anyway. I know, its hard to dispose of something that still works.

hartcreek
hartcreek

I have a good dozenr computers all but one are in the pentium -pentium II range and a couple Power Macs. I keep a Pentium II at my recreation residence and I also have a couple other old machines including and old 486DX 33 that I have set up as a backup internet machine and loaded with old games. I buy used five gig hard drives for five bucks and them load them with old games since ther ain't no TV other then tapes it gives my guests something else to do when it is raining. Yes you still can go online with a 486 with 40 megs of ram.....I used it just this year to cull my email while I was running a virous scan on the newer machine. I have a Pentium 75 set up in my hot tub room that I use strictly as a MP3 CD player. Pentium 100 machines will accept USB cards so with a good old Soundblaster card and a USB external drive you can play tunes with Winamp for days non stop. I used to try and set up machines for kids....a Pentium still will do most homework but the ungrateful brats wanat to play games instead of doing homework so I quit do that. I still work on customer machines so keeping an old laptop is a good idea since a 500 mghz machine is still plenty good to loan out while I am working on their machine. My grand nephew was just born and in another two years I will be setting up a Pentium for him to learn on with good old programs like Sesame Street Color Crayon and Teenage Mutant Ninga Turtles.....Little kids dont need to be online untill they can type and only then for a short amount of time. By the time he hits kindergarden he will computer literate like his dad and Aunt were. And yes I still have a working 286....but that is another story......

JCitizen
JCitizen

Office Max; or was it Office Depot; Oh Well many of these businesses are jumping into the recycling business to bring you back to the fold. It sure made it easier to dispose of expendables; HP gave mailer assets and pointers so it could all be packed up and delivery would come pick it up! Since we were already a non-profit it was easy to see the path to donating functional monitors and system units to needy families. Don't make jokes these people had plenty to eat but they couldn't buy a pot to p**s in! Their kids were poor but computer literate from going to USD schools. The need is great - the giving was motivating to say the least. I never worked so hard for so little pay(free) and enjoyed it more than ever.

jk2001
jk2001

Putting it out on the street so someone can take it. ebay Freecycle Craigslist free list Freegeek.org if you have one, we have a goodwill computer center. The local hazardous waste disposal center.

texan.lady
texan.lady

I kept mine for the older programs for the kids or others that I want to still use. It is really still running great and my old msn word is still great for use with simple things. I have updated it and found out I can up date it too with a new mother board. I can then update it from windows 98 to XP. I store a lot of graphics on it and then can use my old graphic programs for things that are simple by using them to do things that I do not need the new programs for only. Just because it is old does not mean it is not usable any more. Barbi

riotmanager
riotmanager

donate to either the national cristina foundation (www.cristina.org) or gifts in Kind (www.giftsinkind.org) that both take older equipment and distribute it to those who need it.

lddeville
lddeville

The biggest problem with old equipment is the liability involved with the data on hard drives and EPA requirements surrounding disposition. So many think they just format their drive and all is well regarding hard drive data. Not true! Unless the data is removed to one of several standards like DOD the data can be retrieved. There are countless examples of companies getting into liability trouble because of this issue and it is expensive. An issue with some recyclers is the use of prison labor in the downstream process of recycling. As you might guess, there are prison laborers that are quite interested in finding new identities or peddling identities found on equipment they are "recycling". With the growth of stolen identities this is a risk to be concerned with also. EPA adds another liability to companies that feed their old equipment to "recyclers". Unless those recyclers dispose of the equipment properly the original owner is liable for the equipment found in landfills, etc and the penalties are expensive. There are excellent methods of disposing of old equipment but it will cost money (typically determined by age & configuration of equipment) rather than generate revenue for the owner. Recyclers that provide a Certificate of Disposal to EPA Standards in your State and a Certificate of Indemnification that data has been removed from hard drive. Once you have the certificates you need to be sure the recycler has the insurance coverage or is bonded in an amount that would cover penalties and liabilities ($millions)

bob.phillips
bob.phillips

I suggest checking your area for an organization that "Refurbishes" computers and gets them into the homes of low income families. This is what we do. If you take your old computer equipment to a recycler they will typically grind it up and recycle it (better than filling out landfill with toxic waste) but why not let someone else get use out of it. Even low speed computer can be used as a word processor. This is what we do - www.paradoxct.com

ydujc
ydujc

I haven't figured this out either. If the items are not totally obsolete there is a local computer lending program that will take them. However I still have an IBM PC junior in my basement that I think someone may want--just haven't found that someone. Anyone know of such a person or organization???

Boiler87
Boiler87

I work at a non-profit agency and we have become very picky on accepting donations. It is not that we do not appreciate the generosity, it is that we don't want equipment that we can't use and have to find a way to dispose it. The reason is that some people think that since we are a non-profit we will take a 10 year old computer gladly. Don't put the burden of disposing your obsolete equipment on a company whose budget is tight already.

showard2007
showard2007

Donate it, sell it, or take it to a recycling center. The first two options are cheaper and are better and the last option will cost you.

c.gorsuch
c.gorsuch

We give to and I volunteer at a non-profit organization called Computers for Schools. They will take almost everything. They also follow recycling practices. Here in north central Illinois there is a charge for non-working monitors.

telliott
telliott

Our company uses a local computer recycler for several reasons. 1. Liability. You want a chain of custody showing that the equipment was properly disposed of. If you donate it, you lose control of what happens to it next. If it ends up in an empty lot or landfill, you could have liability if the hardware is traced back to your company by an asset tag or serial number. 2. Hazardous waste disposal. Old CRTs and boards can contain heavy metals or other chemicals. Making sure they don't end up in a ditch or tossed into an empty field is a good thing. 3. Security. Even if you format the hard drive, there is still a good possibility that there is some information on the drive that could be retreived. A good recycle center will either wipe the drive using Department of Defense standards, or physically destroy it for you. With all this, you should get a chain of custody listing all parts, serial numbers, etc. of the items you disposed of, along with a statement from the recycler that they were disposed of in a safe and legal manner. This will release your company from any liablity at that point. Some 'newer' old hardware is sometimes resold by the recycler, and they may use those profits to offset your disposal costs. Ours does, and it's a good partnership.

dcohick
dcohick

We remove the hard drives and then donate all computers, printers, monitors etc., to a local federal penitentiary, and they recycle all the components. The last trip down we took 16 pallets and they told us that would bring their total his year to a million pounds recycled.

imahockeymom
imahockeymom

A friend of mine, a retired programmer for the military, takes any and all parts and pieces he can get. Being retired, he has all kinds of time for "tinkering" and he uses whatever salvageable pieces he can find to either build a new system, or for replacement parts for friends'/family members' systems. He does repairs (labor) for free for anyone who asks, and if he has a spare part lying around that he can use, he doesn't charge for materials, either. He will give systems to people he knows or hears about who are physically, mentally, or financially disadvantaged. He loves doing this stuff so much that he asks me on a regular basis if I know anyone who needs any computer repairs. A few weeks ago I had my boss bring in his home computer (full of all kinds of crap due to two teenage boys downloading stuff and tweaking files, etc.). The boss was so frustrated with the computer that he hadn't even turned it on for a couple of weeks (he would do his email and surfing on the office computer instead). In less than 24 hours, my boss had his computer back, up, and running smoothly. And I've been asked twice since if it's still working well, because my friend is bored and would like to get his hands on that system again for more tweak-fixing. I would definitely suggest checking out FreeCycle or CraigsList to see if anyone wants to come pick up the stuff for free. My friend would be all over something like that! Also, check with your local "intermediate school district" or "vocational education center" -- where high school kids who aren't on the college track go to get on-the-job type skills for semi-skilled jobs. Most of these schools have a computer repair type program, and they would love to have parts and pieces for the kids to work with.

meryllogue
meryllogue

This is an area that seems pretty simple, but is rife with places to get hurt pretty badly on a number of levels. We've just been through a comprehensive program around recycling, re-using, data security, etc. Recyclers include re-use in their definition, not just disposal. You can find many who make a point of not sending them overseas to landfills. You can search for recyclers online, but be sure to choose one that complies with some "green" standards. You can find more at www.BAN.org. Also, Greentech Associates has an incredibly comprehensive recycle-reuse-liability program that is unique in the industry, and provides rock-solid protection from exposure to deep-pocket lawsuits.

GSG
GSG

A friend of the family has a child with Down's syndrome. She's older, and loves playing around on the computer, but she's really rough on the equipment, so if we have something that works, but is older and slow, we see if they want the equipment. Slow doesn't bother her, and she's happy to have a "new" computer to play on.

jeremie.ingram
jeremie.ingram

Older systems that have licensing issues associated with them are very hard to dispose of. Hiring a company to do it for you is difficult as well. What I have done in the past is to make a somewhat decent system from the available parts, run a DOD wipe on the drive, and then load one of the flavors of Linux onto it (Ubuntu) with Open office. This eliminates the licensing issues and provides end users with systems that actually work and they would want. They seem to go over fairly well and I don?t have the issues to worry about.

helpdeskdude
helpdeskdude

We have a local recycle center that will take everything for free except monitors which are $7.00 ( because of mercury, they have to have special handling) other than that we try giving away the old CRT's as is and what is left over we tote over to the recycling center. They employe handicaped people who are eager to help unload you items and are grateful for the work so it helps out everyone all the way around. The handicapped get work, we get rid of old systems, the landfill doesn't get polluted, so its a WIN - WIN - WIN situation. Check around and see if you have a recycling center in your area. It's the right thing to do. geeeezzz I sound like a commerical - LOL :)

g_mcvay
g_mcvay

that will take it off your hands. Contact me. g_mcvay@hotmail.com

Sharps2010
Sharps2010

The major client that I work for has roughly 350 employees and they each get a new machine rolled out to them at the end of Dell?s warranty (3yrs on site), the old machines go to the off-site disaster suite (the Chairman is very paranoid!) and the ones that they replace (which are 4yrs old at this point) get picked up by a shredding company for ?5 per Kilo, quite an expensive option but cheaper than giving them away and waiting for the calls to come flooding in saying ?this or that has gone wrong, can you fix it?? (tried and tested!) We (in IT) obviously get the odd perk along the way!! I also personally recycle most of the mobiles them but these just go to the local school and they exchange them for Argos vouchers or similar.

djc
djc

We give all of our old kit to a charity that refurbishes them and then gives them to schools and villages in some of the poorest areas in Africa. It could be worth looking to see if there is a similar scheme in your area.

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

They're already being disposed of by having their jobs outsourced to offshore companies. Just yesterday, I was walking by an alley known for being strewn with old PC parts and noticed a disposed programmer leaking bodily fluids with a sign around his neck that said "will code for food and shelter". Please don't throw away old programmers, as they are easily recyclable and useful for other tasks.

anil.jupiter
anil.jupiter

hi, I am interested in trading these products with you on barter system.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

but around here it has become expensive and a hassle. Last year I took a perfectly good system to donate. The computer recycling center that I used to volunteer at closed, a local shop that deals with thes turned it down (wouldnt even plug it in). I took it to the 'Salvation Army' they tried to charge me $30, wouldnt plug it in. Tried 'Goodwill' and they denied it. tired of driving around and trying to think of where else to donate it, I took it to the SMART Station to have it recycled for $10 I set it up with a working copy of Linux too... what a waste. So it looks like I am just going to recycle these things, cause nobody wants to take them anymore. At work, we just send everything out to a recycling center.

DadsPad
DadsPad

If the preference is to let employees have it, do an auction. Wait till you get enough, the put out a sheet of items to bid on. If an article gets no bids, it goes to charity (make sure everyone understands that part). Any money made on this auction would be turned into a fund for employee functions. No preference, then give the items to charity. They will usually pick up; get a receipt for company tax purposes. There are a lot of people unable to afford a PC, this gives back to the community. The last resort is to a juck dealer. The will give a price by the pound for electronics.

DanLM
DanLM

My cell phones go to the battered women's association. If I know of people that don't have computers and I'm tossing one that works. I give it to them. Peace's and parts... Thats a barter system. I'll try you a hard drive for a dvd reader type of deal. I do know that there are companies that recycle computer parts... If I knew of one close, I would use that. Dan

BBPellet
BBPellet

Let me dig up the contact info and I'll repost it.....I have since moved companies and they don't donate any used equipment so I have since filed it away, but I know I have it...somewhere....maybe even on that pile on my home office! :) I dig it up!

ng_kai_choy
ng_kai_choy

THat's great. But I read somewhere that sometimes, schools don't want old PCs even if they're free. Especially if they're really old. I guess the idea is, those PCs won't help the students when they're in the workplace? But I say as long as it can run something close to current software, it's OK.

jdclyde
jdclyde

had them pick up a new system (fully functional) and then had them pick up an old case (bare) and it was about 4 times as heavy. new cases are cheap crap in most cases. (get it, cases? :p )

jdclyde
jdclyde

would you believe I run my companies web site on an old PII Pro, and it does a great job? I traded and old PII 300 and a PIII 450 for a few guitars and a amp. I am now loading a PIII Dell poweredge to run one of our apps. other than it not automatically recognizing the raid controller, it is running like a champ.

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

Great idea, but how many hardware firewalls do you want/need?

pchsiu
pchsiu

Dear Christos, That's a good idea. I am learning and studying and trying to do it. [petersiu]

JCitizen
JCitizen

Please don't worry about that - we are used to this on TR! This is an international discussion site. In fact, I have a habit of translating post done in folks native languages; Alta Vista makes this easy!

JCitizen
JCitizen

Our CIO was allowing us to release machines for donation by using government spec. overwrite, and said that was all HIPPA required. I haven't personally read the regulations myself. Now it wouldn't be an issue as no one in that organization saves anything to the harddrive on the client side PC. Everything goes to the file server for each office.

pchsiu
pchsiu

Sorry I don't think I could take care of the issue down the chain. I receive old PCs, refurbsh it, install a legally licensed OS and office suite (sometimes MS Office, sometimes Open Office, KOffice, etc) and give it out. There is no garbage output during the process. I don't think I am reponsible for how the donee dispose of their junks when they are finished with them. As to electricity charges, is there an alternative if you want to educate your children so that they would not turn out computer illiterate?

JCitizen
JCitizen

Good link; and better journalism that what we get on TR also I'm afraid. This is why I try to concentrate on local donations where I can help some get their first computer; and some can't afford the hardware or the software. But every once and a while ya just take yer chances and hope the organization is as highly rated as it looks; at least till I hear different.

JCitizen
JCitizen

And we were non-profit as well. Can be very rewarding, the sad thing was our licensing structure didn't allow the units to be dispersed with anything installed. I always volunteered to help them find legal economical software.

mikeholli
mikeholli

I've read thru most of these posts, and HAVE yet seen anyone mention stripping down their old system for parts. PEOPLE...PEOPLE..RAM is reusable on your newer systems!! A P4 with a 1.8GHz uses the same RAM as a P4 3.4GHz! The same holds true for hard drives, NIC cards, modems (remember a 56.6bps modem from 1989 still works in today's PCs.) I can go on and on, as for the green board (motherboard) THAT SUCKER has actual GOLD on it!!! any junk dealer/recyclers/re fitter would be happy to get it from you and melt it down for it's GOLD! THINK PEOPLE Why RE-PURCHASE something that YOU should of SAVED!!!!

AstroCreep
AstroCreep

Here's what kind of sucks about recycling - unless you get a "Certificate of Responsible Destruction" for your equipment, you can still be help liable if it ends up in a landfill or any other unacceptable method of disposal. Not all recycling centers tell you that. :(

Kym Yeoward
Kym Yeoward

Here in Oz, we pay a $4 per tyre Recycling Levy when we replace our tyres. Suggest a similar levy on every new PC, plus free disposal of traded-in equipment (even if there's no tradein value)

JohnnySacks
JohnnySacks

If the US had mandated the recycling of the tons of electronic, plastic and metal we discard into landfills and incinerators decades ago, we would not have this problem today. The cost of discarding the product could be built into the initial price and thus provide an incentive to design and produce the products to be more easily recycled. The tons of recycled almond colored plastic, aluminum, etc. would certainly help offset the skyrocketing costs of the virgin raw materials needed to replace the products today and in the future. That's a win-win for sure.

sam
sam

I contacted a Department of Natual Resources certified individual, who came to my facility and picked up all of our old equipment and disposed of it(at no charge) according to State and Federal regulations. Be sure, if you go this route, to remove the HDD to prevent comprising information that may remain. It's probably a good idea no matter which way you go to ensure the HDD is "clean".

billheis
billheis

We Angels Helping Hands and that some of what we do. The old gear PII 500MHz and slower goes to Africa, Haiti, S. America. with WIN98 on it. Newer PIII 800MHZ and up we get into after school programs, boys and girls clubs, private schools, ect. But even those groups are looking for PIV and up WIN XPP and Dell or equiv business quality, not the home type, So yeah its hard to get rid of the older gear. BTW we are located in Central FL. Bill

chipfay
chipfay

Private schools (the ones without $10,000 a year tuition) might take them. I am on the board of such a school and one of our benefactors donates his company's legacy computers to our cause. The computers may be at the end of their equipment cycle for him, but it doesn't take state of the art hardware to run a word processor and spreadsheet. Plus it's a tax write-off for them.

thea_rde
thea_rde

Well, I'm from the UK and I fix and repair computers. I've got the go-ahead from my kids primary school to teach year 6 pupils to build a computer, and that they can take home the finished thing ready for their journey into secondary school. A lot of the kids in my area don't have one, and this seemed like the best way to get them computer savvy and provide them with something tangible to work with. It's all right teaching them MS and Office, but how to build and repair / maintain them, using alternatives to Microsoft appeals to me. So - if you have any old PC's, bits, bobs, whatever think about the kids.

scottie_lipa
scottie_lipa

I am running into the same problem with older machines being replaced. I have taken a 4 prong approach to the situation here. First, I established what computers would work, regardles of specificatons. Next I tried to upgrade any of those systems as best that could be done with parts from the salavage equipment. These are what I donated or gave to employees who were looking for a cheap system. Most all of these systems were given to local churches, as they hosted non profit organizations, like helping lesser advantage, battered women etc. One thing you might check are the software training companies, they probably encounter the need for system roll over far more than I. I found out about 2 of the organizations I donated from such a company here. Second, I stripped any parts I could use to repair any remianing computers I had. What I don't use I will ebay in bulk. Third, I have some contacts who build systems on the side. For them, the case alone is worth the hassle to come get them from me. Often, these guys do work for free and get asked about refurbished units. If they are willing to spend they time and help those in need, more power to them! Fourth is the true junk. Bad hard drives, failed power supplies etc.. I process these with a vendor to meet ISO 14001 requirements. Taking this approach, I have reduced the total of "stuff" I have around by about 90%. It has taken me a while to get this far, compared to paying a vendor to do the same work and hope I get a few pennies off of my bill. Yet, I can sleep a little better knowing I have helped a lot of folks out.

zclayton2
zclayton2

I know there are several church groups that will take systems (some may take parts)that still work and will put them in church sponsored schools in third world countries that don't have any equipment. Old systems will run linux or even dos for many functions still in use by organizations where we don't or won't go.

rdalton
rdalton

I work in IT for a public school district in NJ. To keep current, we would need to replace 200 computers a year. Since I have been here, we have never had the budget to replace 200 computers in one year. In fact, one year we replaced 80. We do take donations as long as the donated computer will reasonably run Windows XP. CRTs - we will take them if they work. We have accepted about 40 donated computers in the last 3 or 4 years.

jheaton
jheaton

The issue really, is that the older computers are not capable of doing what schools are asking them to do these days. There are applications, which are very useful for learning, that require a P4 or better, with 512MB RAM or better, and XP or better. Some of these applications stream video from internet sites, which again require a decent computer. Technology is advancing, and in order to give the kids the best learning opportunities, you need good equipment, not old Win98, or worse Win95/3.11 machines with 64MB RAM, etc...

j-mart
j-mart

Students are learning keyboard skills, basic file management, any basic machine is all that is required. If donated machines can be used for these purposes more budget would be able to be spent on modern higher spec machines that could be used in the more advanced classes

williamjones
williamjones

Older/donated computers may have low (or no) upfront cost, but the may have higher ownership costs in the long run. Old machines need more regular maintenance, and donated machines might need repair and upgrade before they can go into service. For other recycling options, try checking with any universities and colleges that might be in your area. Some of them have recycling programs of their own that end up distributing material to the community. I have also heard of some job skill training centers that love donations because they provide "cadavers" for use in their computer repair courses. Finally, if you can't find a site that will take your donation, don't let these items end up in a landfill. Many medium to large cities have municipal recycling facilities for any items that contain heavy metals or mercury. They may not provide pick-up service, but they usually don't charge for disposal.

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

I agree, but it would also depend on the number of computers on your network and the age of the equipment that you would be using as a firewall. But I think that the question is more about recycling a number of computers, not just one, hence my, I will admit, facetious question in reply to your original posting. I think a far better use of obselete computers is as simple storage devices as a short term measure. In the end we are still left with equipment that we no longer use, so what do we do with it? Because I do a lot of recycling of old computer equipment myself I could go on and on about this but right now its 2.20 am Christmas Day here so let me wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year and hope that we soon resolve the issue of what to do with our obselete equipment. Cheers :)

cgoulas
cgoulas

Basically one I would say it; it all depends upon your network configuration.

JCitizen
JCitizen

to a stash of donatable computers sometimes the usual groups aren't taking any, or former sites were discontinued. I'm only talking about more modern usable models of course; everything else goes to the scrap recyclers.

pchsiu
pchsiu

Yes sir, I have a donation site. But it is not exactly a government registered charitable organisation. Just free lance.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I couldn't help noticing you said "donations welcome" earlier.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I wouldn't doubt that this factor is what prevents many meaningfull donation efforts.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Same here, which is why I hate destroying perfectly good drives, but it's at the request of legal...so my hands are tied. I've explained to legal that absolutely no data is stored locally...profiles, program data, documents and everything else are kept server side. Yet still they insist on destroying perfectly good drives. I'm just the IT guy so what do I know, right? Whatever legal says goes, that's been the case with companies I've worked with. I even worked with one company that wouldn't allow me to run granular exchange backups, because in the event of a disaster the fines were actually less than the software/hardware required for granular Exchange backups. I like to choose my fights carefully, and going against legal staff recomendations is almost always a bad idea. That's why I document, then use the "I told you so" routione later.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I've seen p4's with all sorts of different memory, depends on the motherboard/chipset. Some use variants of ddr, some use that horrible fiasco we call rdram. I just built a pc for a business that needed an internet/time clock terminal) that was an old p4 with rdram, all from "recycled junk". Even with a gig of that stuff it's still horribly slower than a system with the same processor running 512meg of decent ddr2. If you have enough systems to scrap together enough memory, then you can build a bare system to sell to someone who needs a "basic" pc, otherwise it's a pile of junk that you can sell by the pound at a pc junk dealer. Personally I wouldn't waste a dime on a "new" system that could use anything from pc's older than 2-3 years short of run of the mill pc cards. Donate if you have somewhere to do it, outside of that it's only as valuable as your creativity. If you're like me your wife/girlfriend will only let you keep a few old outdated boxes with Linux on them (because they really aren't good for anything else)!

mikeholli
mikeholli

Hi Herb, question for us fellow Illinoisans would you pick up these PCs? Example for people that live in Evanston, Park Ridge, Chicago to name a few.

JCitizen
JCitizen

How much do you think, or guess; it would cost to ship stuff to Hong Kong. Not that cost matters but I am curious. We do work that part of the business on a shoestring budget. However if I knew more I might be able to point other donators in your direction.

pchsiu
pchsiu

ps: I fiddle with Mandriva Linux too. I shall install free version of Mandriva Linux for the needy too.

pchsiu
pchsiu

Hi everybody. I am an amateur PC maintenance/repairer. I sometimes repair old PCs and give it to poor families free of charge. I am a member of the charity organisation "Chain of Charity Movement". So if you are based in Hong Kong and have old PCs to dispose of please contact me. (email:pchsiu@netvigator.com). You donate the hardware part and I myself donate the software part(like Windows ME/XP) out of my own pocket(of course).

The Dalles Dweller
The Dalles Dweller

There is an organization out there called StRUT (Students recycling Used Technology). There are different groups around the country. This is a non-profit organization that receives surplus equipment from Intel and others. The equipment that is still usable is given to the schools. The stuff that's too old is broken down by the students to be recycled. The revenue from the recycle helps fund the program. Usually it is incorporated into an A+ type course or similar so students learn about computers. It's a great benefit to all involoved. THe companies, schools, students, and the environment! These are 2 that I know of: http://www.oregonstrut.org http://www.svstrut.org/ I know of one small district that hasn't bought a desktop PC in 8 years! The students upgrade and maintain all the desktops! Cheers!

jheaton
jheaton

Yes, you can donate to schools, but keep something in mind. Schools, even at the Elementary level, are using more and more technology in their teaching of our kids. I just left a school district after 5 years, and we went from a 56k line to the COE(County Office of Education) to fiber to each site with a 10M bandwidth. Our biggest problem was having old equipment that couldn't live up to the expectations. Bottom line: if the computer is a P4 or better, with 512MB RAM, then go for the donation. Otherwise, you may as well recycle the metal. Just my 2cents from personal experience of receiving computers that we ended up storing in a tin shed for recycle because there was no way they'd be able to do what we needed. YMMV :)

RogerInHaddenham
RogerInHaddenham

Start by going to www.freecycle.org to find your nearest group (its a worldwide organisation thats locally based). I didn't think I'd get rid of our old servers but a trainee computer engineer wants them to practice on.

elizabeth.collins
elizabeth.collins

I was able to place all my old equipment using Yahoo's Freecycle or Craigslist. There are many local groups that repair and load freeware on computers. I gave my servers to a local school. I had to contact the IT department because the school would not take donations but the IT department would.

lorence.sing
lorence.sing

My son attends a small private school that doesn't have a computer budget or staff. They have a fantastic computer lab and network because of the parent volunteers and from the donation of dozens of "obsoleted" Dell pc's from a large local non-profit business that has a replenishment program, replacing pc's as they exit warranty. The pc's come with OS licensing, so the school doesn't have to buy that either. Be sure to check with the local & urban parochial schools. They usually don't have very current computer equipment unless they are in the more affluent areas.

hcm.2013
hcm.2013

I recently was at reqruitment meeting for troop 457 in bloomingdale, ill. They take computers and refurbish them and donate them to schools, village halls, hospitals etc... maybe you should consider doing that unless you want to donate them to this troop you can repost or to any troop that has a program for this kind of things... thanks

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

usually schools get donations from various ways. Maybe I should have just called beforehand? Thanks for the tip!

mikeholli
mikeholli

A note on Donations, remember ALL of these organizations need WORKING computers, if the one you want to donate doesn't work break it down into *WORKING* components that they will be able to use. Right now these organizations are in the need for video cards 64 to 128 onboard, as well as RAM 512megs simms/dimms and above. Remember let your heart help you in deciding what to donate to theses wonderful organizations.

mikeholli
mikeholli

I donate my old *WORKING* equipment, computers - monitors - printers - home electronics, etc to a very worthy cause that helps children worldwide, as well as cash donations. The name of this organization is Pacific Garden Missions. I've been donating in some manner to them since I was a child. This is a VERY worthwhile organization that helps children that have been abandoned, tossed into the streets, molested, so on. So I'm asking you, look into donating to them. Not only will it help them, it will make your heart feel really good.

desireed
desireed

We donate to a project called "Computers for Kids". This project has volunteer IT's fix, format and load hardware/software for children with special needs including some switch adaptive equipment for small children learning to use computer to have their own PC in thier homes (Saves mom and dads systems or provides a system to families who can not afford new systems). There is still really good software programs that will run on Windows 95, 98, ME and 2000 systems.

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