PCs

Hardware hand-me-downs: a pitfall to avoid

Every so often, someone gets the bright idea of giving--or even selling--the business's old PCs to the staff. Such a practice seems like a morale-booster, but it doesn't make sense from this support pro's standpoint.

Every so often, someone gets the bright idea of giving—or even selling—the business’s old PCs to the staff. Such a practice seems like a morale booster, but it doesn’t make sense from this support pro’s standpoint.

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“What are you going to do with my old machine?”

That seemed to be the inevitable question when I was upgrading a user to a new office PC. I usually had plans for the hardware I was swapping out. It would be slated for refurbishing, or I would use it for replacement components. Sometimes a retired desktop computer would even become a test server. Whatever my intentions, the fact that I was going to find a continued use for the company’s property would sometimes come as a disappointment. Staff members often seemed to be holding out hope that they might be able to take home their old office machine.

Such a plan was even suggested once by a manager of mine. He proposed selling old equipment to staff members. “It would be a nice way to recoup a little of our investment, and our staff could get affordable home computers in the bargain,” he argued.

I know some companies do things like this, and if they find it’s working out, then bully for them. Such plans have never sat well with me, though, for a number of reasons.

Part of my concern is that I am afraid of being held responsible for the machines. After all, staff members will have gotten their computers from the company. If they start having problems with their hardware, they’ll want to go to someone for help. If there’s no manufacturer support, what’s to stop them from turning to me? Even if the company makes clear that the computers are provided as-is and with no warranty, I can guarantee a problem machine will become a topic of conversation when I visit the office cafeteria.

I also don’t want the administrative headaches that come with the distribution of hand-me-downs. If you’re going to give them away, then the process of deciding who gets what has to be impeccably fair. Even if you manage that, there’s still a likelihood that someone will get upset at the outcome. If you’re going to sell computers to employees, then you have to determine appropriate pricing and figure out any tax ramifications. When I do have machines that the business can’t use anymore, I need to get them out of the way as soon as possible; every minute they sit unused they are costing the organization money. Spending my time designing a way for the staff to get them is a waste when I can just call a recycler to come and take the machines now, and then be free to get on with my real job.

Ultimately, I don’t want to spend any time refurbishing machines that the company can’t use anymore. I always had a lot on my plate as an in-house support tech, and I could never rationalize taking time from my regular work in favor of a project to refurbish machines for the staff to take home. It’s a lengthy process to repair, re-image, and physically clean a large block of machines. There are plenty of charitable organizations that will accept old business PCs and do the work required to make them serviceable. They'll do all the work, and the computers have the chance to end up benefiting the truly needy. If I get to choose, then I’ll always pick the recycling solution that will save me effort while supporting a good cause.

So, when it comes to giving the staff our old office machines, I say nay. The difficulties involved don’t outweigh the benefits, especially when there are charities that can use our business’s retired equipment.

What about you? Has your business found a way to make hand-me-downs work? Or are they more trouble than they are worth?

77 comments
AV .
AV .

We do that where I work and also at my last job. When the PC is fully depreciated after 5 years, we offer them to the employees; first to management and then to staff. First come, first serve. We don't charge people money for them and so far, there hasn't been anyone that has come back for support. I work at a company of about 140 people. Its really a win-win situation. First we wipe the systems and install the operating system that came with the PC. Thats it. Sure, its work for IT, but there is alot of goodwill thats generated because of it. We have about 140 PCs. Every year we buy at least 25 new ones and we have to find a way to dispose of the oldest ones. Many charities won't take them if they're that old. We've dumped some of them in the past with a permit at the local recycling center, but its hard work destroying the hard disks. You also have to pay for the permit. Thats why hand-me-downs is win-win. There is no cost for disposal and you get some goodwill in return from your employees. Some people don't have a PC or they need a second PC for their family. Maybe they'll give it away to the needy. Its still good equipment and can have new life. AV

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

What do you think recycling is about you idiot! There are several ways to do this and if you are too stupid to figure it out why don't you go work at a Mc-job and let someone else who deserves it, take your job.

reisen55
reisen55

On Donations A long time ago in a Windows 95 universe, Aon Group was sending back perhaps 20 Compaq Deskpro systems and I was able to pull 10 out as donated systems. The Monroe Free Library would get them and they had nothing at that time. I filled out tons of forms and boxed them all up, shipped them out and three days later saw a ton of boxes land at the Library. So I did a good deed. End of tale: a month later the Library won a Bill and Melinda Gates grant and got a ton of RELALY GOOD systems. They were in the process of throwing out the donated systems and I was able to recover about half of them for other customers!!!! No good deed goes unpunished. ***** On Disposals Roosevelt Hospital was sacking about 100 systems and hired a temp staff team to tear them down and get them to the dumpster. This was pre HIPAA. A co-worker told me that when everything was done and the systems out, he went ouside by the dumpster for a smoke and .... there were all of the temp staff, in the dumpster, merrily tearing everything apart like street rats enjoying a Turkey!!!! He told them to get the hell out of there so they scattered.

MikeGall
MikeGall

Last job was at a hospital. They used a recycler. Current job is a research institute, lots of students. We give away the old stuff. Usually we ask for a small donation which we use for one of our parties, this year the money goes to buying ice cream for our summer party. The user gets a cheap computer (that otherwise wouldn't be able to have a computer at home), and everyone gets a snack. Is it work? Sure. It depends if you have time or not. We are well staffed enough that we have enough slack time to tinker with the old systems and figure out which ones work enough to give away and which ones should be recycled. Not everyone has that luxury. The hospital for example had 6X the staff but only about double the IT guys. There would be no way that they'd have time to format/reinstall the used computers. For me at my current place: it does buy a lot of good will. People are really excited to get a system. For some it means they can do some work from home rather than have to be in the lab if they want to browse the internet. We already give a little bit of support for personal systems (we will let them bring their own laptop if they want to work), getting them configured for wireless, or giving them the software that we have "home use" licenses for, so it isn't too much of a problem for us. We still will do no hardware support but if they are going to use it around the office we'll help them get the software working. As for the "it gives me paying work after hours if they need support": I totally don't agree with that, especially if it comes up during the process of them getting the free computer. As in "Can you help me set this up if I take it home?" "Sure but I'll charge you." You're being paid by your employer so why are you using their time to setup business contacts? If you happen to be friends and normally socialize with them that is one thing, but if it is the dude in accounting that you don't know you have no excuse. The contact exists for your own profit not for your employer. They would have to ask me to help them, I wouldn't even suggest that I'm open to doing afterhours work for people.

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

You make some valid points. But as to your concern that an employee who has purchased or was given a used company PC coming back to you asking for support, the answer is simple ... "No, sorry. Can't do." Where I work, we do not typically either sell or give away our retired PCs to employees. Typically old equipment is collected until there is what would be considered a worth while quantity to bother, then a couple small outfits are called and asked to submit bids for the lot. Mostly these are small companies, 1 to 5 man PC service and repair outfits. Who're always looking for parts for older machines, and who also refurbish selected quantities to resell as whole systems, usually to private buyers (home owners). What is unusable, they scrap out and send to a recycler. Seems to work well. We don't get much money from the bids, but they accept all the headaches and our IT department doesn't have to deal with it. Occasionally, an exception is made and an older but still serviceable machine is cleaned up by our IT department and donated to a suitable charity. This is done strictly on a case by case basis. Actually costs us money (our IT people's time, etc), but as a company we make charitable donations throughout the year of various sorts anyway. In any event, while we do not resell used computer equipment to our employees, if we did it would probably be done in a similar manner as we handle sale of used company vehicles to employees. Which is something we do. We wait until we have a suitable number of vehicles to make the effort and paperwork worthwhile. An announcement is made within the company to all personnel, listing the vehicles and brief descriptions. And clearly stating that the vehicles are to be sold "As Is", period. Employees are invited to come take a look at them, etc. And then the employees are told to submit bids if interested. Lowest acceptable bid amount is stated for each vehicle to be sold this way. Bids are sealed, this is not an open, public auction where one knows what others are currently bidding. Highest bid gets the vehicle. Cash only, payable upon getting the keys. Any vehicles not sold this way are sold as a lot to an outside vendor. This works for us. But it is an unbendable rule that the vehicles are sold "As Is". If that's not acceptable to you, tough. Don't bid on one next time. IOW, the idea is that the buyer is willing to accept all responsibility for any repairs necessary and so forth. We have an in-house vehicle repair shop, but they're not even gonna consider working on YOUR vehicle. The most they'll do is give you a printout of that vehicle's maintenance and repair history and tell you what they know about its current status as to what works and what doesn't. We've done this for many years. The employees understand well that once they buy this used equipment the company WILL NOT provide any support or repair services. It works well for us, certain employees handy at taking care of their own vehicles enjoy a chance to get a bargain that suits their needs/wants. In the case of employees who do not want to take the risk, its simple, don't bid on these vehicles, period. I'd say that if a company wants to offer used computer equipment to employees (for sale or giveaway) that it simply be made clear that the IT department will NOT provide services to fix, configure, set up, or whatever for said equipment. And that the IT people learn to say, "No." This is really no different than situations I face every day at work. I am not in-house IT. My services are sold to other companies. Specific services. Pretty common for me to be on a customer site doing my thing, which sometimes involves my working with customer owned and maintained systems. On a periodic basis I'll find that a customer piece of equipment has a failure or other problem. To ensure that its not a problem with some hardware or software I've installed and setup, I do the appropriate troubleshooting to define precisely what the issue is. If its within hardware or software that is the customer's responsibility, I notify the appropriate people. Quite commonly, somebody within the customer organization will come back and say something like, "Well, can't you fix it?". I'll respond with something like, "Yep, I could, but I'm not going to. It's YOUR equipment and problem. Not mine. I'm not contracted (or paid) to fix YOUR problems with your pre-existing equipment. Now, if you'd like to call my salesman, I'm sure he'd be more than happy to give you a quote or a T&M estimate." I'd suppose we're all adults around here. And as such are expected to know what something being sold "As Is" means. It's a gamble when buying something with an "As Is" clause stated. Sometimes yah win, sometimes yah lose. Don't like the odds, don't play the game. Not much different from going to a garage sale where the seller is smart and sticks out a sign saying, "As Is, as sales final." I like garage sales. One can find some good bargains there. What is junk or a no longer needed item for one person, can be a useful find for another. In such cases I might find a toaster on sale with a price of $2.00. If I'm looking for a toaster, what do I care if its not the latest or greatest? I just want something to toast my bread. Look it over for obvious unacceptable defects. If none are found I ask to plug it in and give it a short test run. If it works, and the price is right, I buy. If the darn thing craps out as soon as I get home, my problem. I took the gamble. And lost. If it works for a reasonably long time, I won by getting a bargain. If it fails as soon as I get it home, or soon thereafter, and I expect to be able to take it back and have the original owner fix it or give me my money back ... I'm an idiot who shouldn't be allowed to wander around without adult supervision.

IT_Hottie
IT_Hottie

I really think it is a good idea to just donate them to non-profit organization. There are tons out there who need much better machines yet have insufficient funding to buy better ones. You help them out and don't have the problem of supporting them after giving it away. Just make sure they are reformatted and wiped clean.

noahjuan
noahjuan

Have them sign a wiaver of liability and "sell" it to them "as is", even if its for a dollar. Also, there may be needy homeschoolers who could use it, as well as charities.

george.hickey
george.hickey

... simply because we have to retain and destroy the hard-disks of the machines from a data-protection point of view. Also, you can be guaranteed that even though machines would be supplied as is with no warranty what-so-ever, staff would still come back to us with questions / issues.

GB9130
GB9130

Don't Sell - Don?t Recycle, REUSE. Several previous posts mentioned donating equipment to non-profits, but I would like to make a couple of additional points: I am one of a dozen volunteers who refurbish donated computers for the blind and partially sighted. We have shipped more than 3100 systems over the past 10 years. BUT?, we are continually seeking additional donations. Please, 1. REUSE, don?t recycle; give equipment to a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR), not a recycler. anything that we can?t redeploy, we send to a certified recycler. 2. Clean (securely) the hard drive (donor companies) or trust us (most home users) as a MAR group to do it. Our license agreement for XP requires it. Do NOT remove the HD; we desperately need them! 3. Don?t leave USEFUL equipment sitting in a storage room until it becomes USELESS. We frequently receive computers that would have been redeployed to blind persons IF they had been donated WHEN they were taken out of service, but are now too slow for the current software. 4. Locate a non-profit MAR in your area and surprise them with a big donation!

lhayes
lhayes

DON?T DO IT!! I too thought that would be a great way to help my fellow co-workers, but after the first few returns of the ?AS IS? computers I knew I was in for a rude awaking. Yes, it?s a noble gesture but the amount of time and aggravation is defiantly not worth it. I work for an educational association and have teamed up with a not for profit group that refurbishes our old PC?s to donate to K-12 schools. A headache off my shoulders and doing a good deed at the same time, now that?s the way to roll!

BrianMWatson
BrianMWatson

The author makes very good points, and I've done it both ways - at the same company and at different companies. Whether or not it works depends not only the organization, but also the employees. One item that didn't appear to be taken into account - an important item, in my opinion - is the benefit of employee morale. While admittedly difficult to measure for an "is it worth it" argument, I firmly believe employee morale contributes greatly to customer satisfaction and ultimately to the bottom line. If giving away or selling a some old machines - in "as is" condition and with no support both expressly stated - will positively affect employee morale (and help garner some good will for IT at the same time), then I think it's worth it. BTW, I bought a couple hardware drive wipers to deal with securely erasing data. The drive doesn't even have to be removed from the case, so it literally takes a single person a few minutes a day to wipe dozens of systems. It's a real time saver, but even then, we only did as many as we could do. If things backed up (i.e. too many systems), we sent some to charity. All in all, our volume was such that probably 60% - 80% of the systems went to charity, but nearly every employee who wanted a system eventually got one...

dhurrell
dhurrell

In keeping with the new fashion, my company's recent layoff of employees has left me with a pile of "electronic waste" that was dealt with by one of the laid-off employees who quickly started a company brokering hardware - he runs DBAN in my stock room on the HDDs first - to web-based resellers who, in turn, provide certification, eco-dispose, refurbish and redistribute throughout Europe. They are paying up to 280? for 4 year old HP laptops. 150? for 5 year old Del laptops. I just nodded the whole time he spoke the day he came to my desk and asked if it would be OK for him to take away my electronic waste issues. Can anybody foresee a nightmare? Is there a means to transfer ownership in Dell / HP's database?

reisen55
reisen55

There are many that do a quality removal job and if you are under HIPAA requirements, old machines must be disposed of in this fashion. I do not have a personal problem with old machines going out to users provided the drives are quickly wiped clean of data. Some firms remove the drives and donate the machine. Under no circumstance is a company to user machine to be considered under corporate care. If a user wants to pay ME for my service, that is my business and nothing to do with the company plan.

Jeff7181
Jeff7181

People will always try to get something for nothing. Most people don't understand what it takes for you to be able to sell them an old corporate machine. They think you can just hand it over... with all the software in-tact.

dixon
dixon

...all those stray hard drives wandering god-knows-where after leaving the relative safety of the company environment. That would flat keep me up at night. Yeah, I know you'd reimage them, but that doesn't make recovery of potentially sensitive stuff impossible.

Rhodent
Rhodent

Why not give them to your staff for free - decide who gets what by lottery, and make it very clear to them that they will get no technical support for them? Giving them to charity is also good, but wouldn't you wanna take care of your people first?

tleemad
tleemad

I totally agree! I am a one person IT staff and I can't handle all the questions that come up from 'non' tech employee's about their home computers as it is. I certainly don't want to give them even more reasons to come ask questions. As to using old PC's to meet women and getting dinner, I am a woman and that's just outright manipulation but what else is new on that subject! There are too many problems that occur with old PC's as it is and like the writer, my real job is to meet the IT demands of the day. I don't have free time to spend and I don't want to make more work for myself so some staff member can start calling my cell phone at night about their home PC that came from work! I like the idea of giving them to a local PC repair shop (minus HDD) and they can reburb them. Then discount to my fellow staff. Great idea but that is another new project for me that I just don't have the time for in an economy that is spiraling downward. I am all for having the vendor pick them up and recycle them. It makes the most sense for my company. Of course I know IT folks that take the stuff home and sell it on ebay as a part time job. What's up with that?

aduffy
aduffy

Thos are a bunch of wienie reasons but it's a mute point because of the "as-is" warrantee to the seller. The author left out what happens to old PC's when they cannot be used as a test server?

steven.taylor
steven.taylor

What company do you work for? I'll make sure I don't apply for employment there. I'll bet you find many ways not to do things.

crowleye
crowleye

We used to sometimes give away or sell. Then recycling laws hit. One monitor in a landfill gets traced back to us and we're fined out of business. We don't give anything away anymore. Also all the information and privacy acts. All our hard disks are confirmed melted. Which also helps keep microsoft off our backs about licensed machines leaving our site, we can guarantee that windows, etc are not running when we're done with them. Of course, after all that, the occasional senior exec still gets to keep stuff. The rules don't seem to apply when the air is thin.

The Admiral
The Admiral

"After all, staff members will have gotten their computers from the company. If they start having problems with their hardware, they?ll want to go to someone for help. If there?s no manufacturer support, what?s to stop them from turning to me?" When they purchase the equipment, they are told that there is absolutely no support for the products after the sale, that they will have to find a repair shop who can fix them. They sell most of the ones they like, and the ones that don't - get sold to the highest bidder at an auction.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm with you on not selling them to directly to employees. We sell raffle tickets for $2.50 each, three for $5, or similar prices depending on the machine. The money goes to our employee scholarship fund. This eliminates many of the problems you raise. I don't feel bad about not supporting a machine someone only paid $5.00 for, and they don't particularly care when a $5.00 system stops working. If someone wants to buy more tickets than the system is worth, that's their choice. It eliminates the distribution problem; it's now totally random. Taxes? The scholarship fund is non-profit. I'm sure you could find some worthwhile charity. I admit to overhauling the machines on company time, but how long does it take to stick in the vendor-provided 'Restore' CD and install OpenOffice? It takes longer to erase a drive with a good wipe utility. Occasionally we'll have a system stay in service so long I don't feel comfortable putting it up as a drawing prize. In our case, those systems go to the state National Guard HQ. They have a full-time IT staff who understands data security and I -know- will erase the drives to DoD standards.

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

They had an agreement with a local PC shop. We sold the old computers to them. We wiped the drives (Securely) and they picked them up. They could do whatever they wanted after that but if one of our employees wanted to buy one from them, it was at a discount. I thought it was a great idea.

Joe_R
Joe_R

A few measly dollars is nothing. Give the stuff to the employees, make it clear that no support or warranty will be provided, no questions will be answered, and call it a day.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

their expectations properly. A little bit of work to start, and it can run itself. Regardless of what you do with them later, every machine you take out of service should have the hard drive completely wiped of data and overwritten by a suitable program to totally remove the chance of getting any data off it. Where you go from there will depend upon the type of software licences you have. One place I worked at they bought systems preloaded with software and the back up CD for each machine was kept in a sleeve taped to the inside of the box. Once the drive was wiped the company sold the systems for 10% of the price of the new system and the people got the basic system software and licences it originally came with. Despite the MS EULA saying otherwise, this is totally legal under the Australian consumer laws. Thus staff could buy a system a few years old for around a hundred dollars, complete with an OS and some basic office software. Before their money's accepted the system is shown to be working with a live disc and they sign a form releasing the company from any responsibility about the system. No company tech is allowed to look after staff systems, company policy, but many have older sons doing IT in college and they get some work looking after staff PCs. In another place we wiped the hard discs, loaded the OS back on, using the same licence number, then they get sold by the finance people - no support supplied. In both it worked well, but we made a point of letting them know up front what to expect and that we did NOT support them at all. Not all systems got sold, some were redistributed and others used as test beds too.

AndrewB_NZ
AndrewB_NZ

We've given away a number of ancient NT machines in the past, but were very strict on that they came with no software, no guarantee that they worked, and no support at all. As most of our desktops are now thin clients, we probably won't be giving away any more - but by making it absolutely clear and getting everyone in IT to agree and enforce those rules it worked quite well.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Part of my concern is that I am afraid of being held responsible for the machines. Why? As you said they are obviously sold, just as any proivate sale with no warranty or expectations of reliablity. You don't want to face teh problems as you know they will staill get to yuo through work soemwhere. Why not look for the positive side of it then? A) YOU gate to make a few bucks on teh side (or do it for dinner, I used to help women from work if they mad edinner GREAT deal! and a good way to get to know them better on a perosnal levelO. B) Don't need money and your belly is full? Do you not know anyone with teenagers who are trying to get into IT or have a knack rebuilding computers and coul duse a few extra dollars? Give someone's kid some work, the parent will love you for saving their pocketbook, the kid will love you for the opportunity to earn a few bucks. I worked for a company that had staff auctions for used equipment, returned phones VMail systems etc., sometimes worth thousands. ALL bids started at $1.00 and you coul dpick up a decent working PC for about $20 most of the time or a multiline phone system for $50 with VMail. Our intsallers would put them in on a weekend for a few beers and a helping hand. For repairs, our technician's kid was into IT so he offered to do any home PC repair for company staff at $20/hr (beat that! Especially with the kid being so determined and focused on gettign the job done, it was awesome!) It wasn't about giving back ANYTHING to the company, or reocvering an investment on aniquated hardware worth little to nothing, in fact ANY money raised for such auctions were doated to a charity, such as PADS, Children's Hospital, SPCA etc. It encouraged people to pay more and feel good about bidding on items. So in that case, selling off refurbs to staff was a HUGE benefit all around ou just have to find more positive reasons to make it work. Someone gets a few hours work now and then, picks up real world tech experience, a donation is made on teh company's behalf to a local charity, and someone gets a good deal on som eused hardware. How can you possibly lose, unless you begrudge the thought of repairing them yourself and not giving anything back to anyone but the company? What do you get out of it? Nothing, stop being so selfish, it's for the benefit of others! ;)

williamjones
williamjones

...I notice that you say you give first pick of free computers to members of the management team. This alone might be a morale deal breaker in some offices. In the past, I have run into complaints from staff members because a manager received a hand-me-down as part of a *random drawing.* I don't want to be accused of any favoritism when giving machines to staff. So, since I can't give to everyone, I give to no one. Letting an external recycler handle our machines prevents any internal strife. Thanks for sharing your experience.

williamjones
williamjones

...to the discussion. Did you read the original article?

robo_dev
robo_dev

:) :) that outta be on a Christmas card or something..... Talk about 'great moments in data disclosure'..... At a former company, years ago, the print-room staff just finished printing the W2s for the whole company (over 10K people). My sleazy buddy walks down the hall and whispers (wanna know how much Mr. _____ (CEO) makes in a year. He points to the trash bin in the hall where there is a thick stack of carbon paper was sitting in a box. It was the carbon paper that went inside all the W2s.

ginmemphis
ginmemphis

Please don't give your castoffs to my non-profit organization. We don't need old computers anymore than you do. No, you don't have the problem of supporting them--we do!

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

They are normally funded somehow, just beacuse the don't make a profit (any they do goes back in to the company) does not mean they use second rate equipment.

CodeCurmudgeon
CodeCurmudgeon

This little self contained utility makes it feasible to meet HIPAA and SarbOx requirements without destroying the drive. It pretty much does what it says: It boots and writes random data all over the selected drives repeatedly 'till even NSA data recovery techs would throw up their hands in frustration. Download it from http://www.dban.org/ for free.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Why worry about it? None of it's under warranty, is it? I've never had Dell, HP, or Compaq tell me they wouldn't accept payment for post-warranty support simply because I wasn't the owner. They'll sell you Recovery Disks regardless of who owns the system.

CodeCurmudgeon
CodeCurmudgeon

Lately our folks have taken to simply taking a hand drill and drilling holes clear through the drives. Maybe NSA could recover data from 'em if they wanted to bad enough, but, that pretty thoroughly trashes 'em and takes a lot less time than wiping 'em. As for desktops, they are pretty much down to cases & motherboards and maybe the odd old cd-rom drive by time they go to surplus. Old servers generally go intact, less hard drives, the drives having been given the Black & Decker treatment.

Datacommguy
Datacommguy

In the company I just left, we held a charity auction for old PC's with had scraped-clean hard drives and the original CD's that came with 'em. They were cheap, the price was 'fair' since it was an auction, the money went to various charities, and I got some off-work 'business' rebuilding machines for those who didn't want to do it themselves.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

When givin gaway computers, auctioning them off and donating to charity etc. You would simply remove hard drives. As noted by another peer, you usually have smalle rhard drives in older machines and most home users would want a 250GB+ which are dirt cheap anyway. So to give away a computer or sell it cheap without a HD is not so bad.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

First of all, if you have sold the machine to an end user, you are no longer responsible for its disposal. Just make sure you have proof of the sale. As far as MS licences are concerned, they are transferrable with the original machine it was sold with, installed on. HARD drives? Sell them without, most people prefer a new drive anwyay. There's always a way to make things work for you and everyone else too.

mdw1964
mdw1964

Most recycling companies here just pick everything up. I don't get charged for monitor disposal because they make the money up by harvesting the precious metals from the PC.

rfolden
rfolden

Having worked in a shop that "gave" its antiquated PCs to the staff, I can heartily say "DON'T". Just get the things out of sight to a recycler or wherever ASAP. Even with a signed agreement that says that the IT department of person(s) will have no part in fixing the computer or repairing software anomalies thereon, YOU KNOW who the folks are going to ask... YOU. And if the person doing the asking is a department head, director, etc. You'd best be repairing, you peon. Better to nip this one in the bud by simply NOT doing it. Has nothing to do with selfishness, and everything to do with experience.

blarman
blarman

Our PC's usually die the death (hard drive failure) due to harsh conditions, but the few that do survive to life (4-5 years) and still work, we sell to interested employees. And with almost 2000 employees, we've never had a working computer go to the recyclers. We wipe the machine (hard drive format) then re-install OS and pre-load Open Office and a few other open source programs and patch the OS. The user knows that they won't get support on it and that it could break at any time, but at free to $50, nobody has flinched yet. The best part is that the recipients significantly upgrade their view of the IT department. For us, the good will is worth it.

dstitt
dstitt

I used to give mine to Unicor, a company that runs electronics recycling inside several Federal (USA) prisons. All it cost my company was the cost to deliver the equipment to the dock; the machines would be tested & refurbished where possible, and the unusable parts were recycled responsibly. This provided jobs and training for the inmates.

bfpower
bfpower

I work in healthcare in the United States, and we have some fairly strict requirements regarding disposal of assets. One deterrent to having someone else do the work is that the PCs need to be 'sanitized' before leaving. Usually we use DBAN, but this leaves some of the work with us (and the legal responsibility for making sure the data is unreadable). If you want to get around that, of course, you can just remove the HDD and tell the bright teenager to get his own (besides, they don't want the 20GB drive in the old GX240s anyway; it won't fit 1/10 of their media library.

AV .
AV .

I work for law firms and the management basically are equity partners in the firm. They pay for the equipment, so its only fair they get first dibs. There is never any morale problem with the staff because that is clearly understood. There is a pecking order. AV

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

The answer is, you ask. Pretty simple, right? Non-profits come in all sizes and flavors, founded to support just about any "cause" one could imagine. Of course, some are little more than a scam IMHO. With the vast majority of the funding received getting eaten up in their overhead costs (think high salaries, plush offices and accommodations, etc). But there are plenty of what I'd believe to be worthy non-profits. One that I in particular support is run by the Catholic church. And, No, I'm not Catholic. But this particular organization within an organization I work with provides services to mentally and physically handicapped people. Services that beyond what official government care and welfare services provide. The staff is made up partly of paid personnel, whose pay is by no means what one would call generous; and the rest are volunteers. Part of their funding comes through official Catholic church channels, with the rest coming from private donations of money, materials, and time. Their computer systems and IT support are in fact virtually all donated and free (to them). I know as I'm part of that system support. With adequate support, and people who know what they're doing, do you imagine that there is much that one actually NEEDS to do in an average office environment, that can not be done using what you refer to as "second rate" equipment? Chuckle, this is much the same as a certain situation I observed one day at my lake cabin. Near to us there is a small privately owned resort and we're long time friends of the owners. And this one day were over chatting with them. During that process we were watching as this new customer of theirs arrived who'd rented one of their cabins. This guy had a beautiful new boat, with every possible gadget a fisherman could possibly want. All the latest, greatest, and best of kind available. Same went as concerns his fishing tackle; rods, reels, etc. That fellow, understandably, was given to being proud of his setup and bragging about it. I don't fault him for that, it was some really, really nice stuff. And he was prepared. He'd read all the latest magazine articles covering the use of said gear, and the latest and greatest info about the art of fishing. Also had bought and read the "best" books on the subject and watched many instructional videos put out by experts. AND he'd even hired a couple experts to give him personal instruction. A likable enough fellow, but somewhat given to having a swelled head. Anyway, he got his boat in the water and prepared to go out to show everyone how this was done. He did have some practical fishing experience, he wasn't a total novice. Next to his boat an old fellow, in well worn fishing clothing, a very modest and older boat that was likely at least 25 years old also setting out for a day of fishing. His outfit included a couple very old, well used rods and reels, a much patching landing net he obviously favored despite its age and condition. And a small supply of what were obviously hand made lures and spinner rigs. Add an old, circa 1970's "fish finder" with a display that looked much like what one would see if watching an old WW2 movie about the Navy. Old fellow cast away first. My friend and I were on the dock talking to the fellow who had all the latest and greatest. Last thing before he left, he watched the old fellow, shook his head, and made some comments indicating that he pitied that old fellow. And thought he'd do much better if he bit the bullet and bought some of that newest, latest, and greatest stuff. The day passed by, and later that new guy came puttering in. Shaking head. H had some good fish, but not many. Mentioned that it must just be one of those bad fishing days. He'd used everything at his disposal, GPS with maps of the lake bottom, water temperature and oxygen content analyzers, submersible and towable underwater video camera, computer analyzation of current weather conditions, moon/tide phases, water clarity conditions, and so forth to locate what SHOULD have been the very best fishing spots. Along with computer generated data results that indicated what would be the best choices of baits/lures and most favorable colors to suit the conditions. He was absolutely convinced, they (the fish) just weren't biting. That if HE, with all the latest and greatest in what modern science and technology offered, could not catch more than he had, no one else could possibly do as well. Much less better. An hour or so later the old fellow puttered in. Also shaking his head. Commenting that the fishing was tough, very tough. He'd had to stay out twice as long as usual, for him. But then he revealed a full legal limit of some very nice fish. A catch anyone would be proud of, even on a good fishing day. I'll leave it to anyone reading this to figure out the moral of the story.

walterwood44
walterwood44

CodeCurmudgeon I realize there will be differences in the time this takes based on the hardware but generally how long does Boot and Nuke take to finish. I am guessing many hours per PC. Is this guess correct? If so, this would not be practicle is you have more than a handfull of computers.

dixon
dixon

I was just pointing out a concern that wasn't mentioned in the article, which I think is a bigger deal than many of the more 'hassle related' issues mentioned.

Fyrewerx
Fyrewerx

First, we'd have to maintain more records so we can prove we "sold" the discarded equipment to someone else. We already have our fill of records and paper trails when it comes to inventory and software licenses. Second, our PCs are loaded with operating systems purchased via Enterprise License. Therefore, no OS's go with the PCs. Third, the buyers of the PCs just continually annoyed the IT support staff for "free" personal support and "free" software. Fourth, and the event that finally "killed" our Sell PCs To The Employees event, one of the desktop PCs power supplies shorted, started a fire, and did severe damage to the buyer's home. Before the house stopped smoldering, our company was presented with a lawsuit. I don't know the outcome (lawyers handled it), but that was the end of the sales. All end-of-life equipment is given to scrap brokers.

williamjones
williamjones

I have had people in my office ask for help with computers that didn't come from our office. In spite of "official" pronouncements about not being supported, lots of people will feel like there's no harm in "just asking a question" or two.

MikeGall
MikeGall

can the inmates use the new skills after they leave? I don't know of a company that will hire you in IT with a criminal record. I guess they could start their own company. Funny that a company won't hire you because you have a record, but if you knock on their door with your own company they don't seem to really check.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I used to sell devices to Hospitals and other areas of teh medical sector. Instrinsically safe, able to handle caustic cleaners etc. But that is obviously just one sector in a very big world.

brazitis
brazitis

I did volunteer work for a local literacy charity, and they were upgrading their PC's to XP (this was a few years ago). We got rid of 10 PC's that weren't up to XP requirements by using Diskwipe program to wipe clean the hard disk (I would use Darik's Boot and Nuke now - but uninstall programs just get rid of the run program, there were lots of leftover personal data files that were quite readable using Notepad and a little imagination). I then installed Windows 98SE for an operating system, made a back-up boot disk, and sent them out mostly to local church basements (they were happy to have a free email/document computer for their charitable/youth groups to use). Only changes now - Windows XP, Vista, and 7 are tied to a unique computer, so I would install a Linux OS (such as Puppy Linux) for the new users, with detailed written instructions. Also, some computers don't have floppy disk drives anymore, so I would be using a boot CD to run Darik's Boot and Nuke.

williamjones
williamjones

..every place has it's own culture. Glad it's working out for you. Thanks for your thoughts.

pgit
pgit

Some companies can and actually go out of their way to hire people who've fallen on the wrong side of the law and rehabilitated. I used to teach an A+ class that every run had a few ex cons being given an opportunity. They had a better track record of getting jobs than the worker displacement candidates did. Factory workers being retrained, people injured so they couldn't do their previous work, likewise being retrained, didn't fare as well as those that came out of the big house. In instruction motivation is everything. My experience confirms that axiom.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

protection of data, but some shops not dealing with those laws can.

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