Throwing Away that Old Computer – inQuo’s Tech Tip Tuesday Newsletter Volume 15

Along with old pairs of skis, your uncle Milton’s bowling ball, and the framed pictures of fruit from your failed attempt at “Art”, you may also have some old computer parts laying around your basement or garage.

You may have heard that there are materials inside of computers that are not landfill safe.  So, what do you do with those hulking beasts of computers that used to be the cutting edge technology that your neighbors were jealous of?

First Things First

You will want to make sure that any hard drives inside old computers have been erased completely.  There are plenty of ways to recover data from old hard drives.  What information could someone find on your old computer?  Enough to commit identity theft?

If that old computer is still operational, there are a number of free programs available that will wipe a hard drive.  One we recommend is Zilla Data Nuker 2.  This free program will use a bunch of fancy algorithms to make your hard drive useless to most people looking for any information.

If your old computer is not functional, you may want to remove the hard drive(s) before you toss it.  If all else fails, you can physically damage a hard drive (drilling holes or taking your favorite sledgehammer to it).

Recycle, Recycle, and RECYCLE!

The best thing to do with old hardware is, of course, to recycle it.  The insides of computers, monitors, printers, etc. may contain chemicals and materials like mercury and lead.

Although some recycling centers may charge you to drop off your old hardware, there are other ways to safely recycle the equipment for free.

  • Sell it – There are many free classifieds site available in Utah, including Craigslist, KSL.com and Yahoo Groups.  You would be surprised at how many people may be looking for that junk you want to get rid of.
  • Give it Away – Again, use some of the classified sites above, or look for a local chapter of FreeCycle.  This is an organization of people that try to reduce the waste that fills our landfills.

Donate it – You may be able to donate that hardware to schools, churches, or thrift stores.  Sometimes those organizations will even pick up your items, and you can get a tax break for donations to non-profits.

Whatever you decide to do, let’s all try to do our part to keep the earth clean.

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