All of us who are regular users of computers eventually come to the point where we replace what we are using with a new machine. We are then faced with the question of what to do with the old system. Here’s some ways to make sure that good use is made of whatever potential is left in the old computer.
What to do with Fully Functional PCsIf it is an obsolete but perfectly serviceable machine that is being considered, there are a variety of possible dispositions to consider.
Some may choose to fill up a closet or other storage area with their old machines with the idea of using them as backup. That was my rationale for keeping an old 400 MHz machine in my closet for a year. Actually I had a better backup with an external hard drive and my laptop was available if my new desktop had failed so the PC in the closet was a bit of a waste. (Also, my wife frowned on the idea since we don’t have all that much room anyway.) The more ambitious can take the old machine out of the closet and put it to work several ways. Those who have home networks can set up an old machine as a file server. Another use might be to provide a high-security firewall, perhaps using Linux.
All in all, however, the typical home PC user is probably going to want to find a way to usefully dispose of an old machine. Some may want to consider selling the system. However, prices for brand new systems have come down to the point where I do not personally think the bother of selling is worth the small amount of money involved. If you are interested in selling, go to Ebay and see what your type of system is bringing. Another option is to give the PC to a relative or friend who is willing to accept hand-me-downs. Even quite old machines are capable of doing most, if not all, applications that the average person uses. However, new machines are sufficiently inexpensive that using obsolete equipment is not as attractive as it once was. I know that my grandchildren would feel put upon if they did not get a new Dell or new HP or new something. There are, however, many less fortunate people who would be happy to receive an older machine and here are some ways to donate an obsolete but still functional machine to a place that will make good use of it.
Where to Donate Computers
Giving a computer to a good cause is a triple-play. The environment benefits from getting the extra use from the machine, somebody who couldn't otherwise afford it gets a computer, and you get a tax break. Perhaps you know a local organization or charity where you can take your old computer (I give mine to SeniorNet). Otherwise, there are a number of organizations that will help you get your computer to some deserving recipient. Some of these are given below (in no particular order).
Guidelines for Giving Away a Computer
As a rough rule, any computer much over five years old will probably not interest many possible recipients. Most require a Pentium or Pentium II or the equivalent. Old 486s are probably destined to be scrapped. Generally, a complete system is desired so all the peripherals such as keyboard and mouse should be included. If available, include all the manuals and instruction sheets that came with the computer.
There are some tricky points about the operating system and software on any system that you give away. Be aware of software licensing rules. Microsoft in particular takes a very hard line on enforcing its EULA although they do provide a special charity license and have a program for providing non-profit refurbishers with copies of Windows 98 or Windows 2000. The operating system and any other installed software that stays on the computer should be accompanied by the installation disks and manuals. Keeping copies for your own use probably violates the licensing agreement. Check to see if your computer is going to be used as is or is going to be refurbished. Many organizations reformat the hard drive and install their own software, in which case it's possible that you retain the software licenses. OEM licensing can be murky, however, and may be permanently tied to one particular system.
Make sure that any confidential files or personal information is removed. There are many stories about people who have obtained used computers and found the hard drive to be full of sensitive information about the previous owner. Even if the machine is going to a refurbisher, the safest thing is to remove anything personal. My procedure is to reformat the disk and then, if needed, reinstall the operating system and any other software. If your data are especially sensitive, there are more drastic measures. A low-level format or use of a utility like Norton Wipe Info will overwrite the disk. More information on cleaning up can be found here.
Scrapping a computerIf a computer is not functional or is too old to be of interest to a charity or other organization, there are services that will dispose of it in an environmentally safe way. Your local community may provide a service or there may be scrap dealers in your area. Here are some sites that have databases for finding dealers:
IBM has a service for either buying back older computers or disposing of them. It is intended mainly for small businesses or organizations. The equipment does not have to be an IBM product. Hewlett-Packard also has a hardware recycling program.
|<< Home page||©2002-2013 Victor Laurie||Home page >>|