It often seems like even the best new technology is out of date in a matter of days. This year's powerhouse graphics card may be enough for now, but there is always something better on the horizon. So if you want to stay up to date, you need to regularly update your hardware or even your entire rig. But what should you do with all of your obsolete components?
You can't just throw it away. Some of these parts are hazardous to the environment and must be disposed of properly. In fact, environmentalists often point to e-junk as one of the next big problems facing our planet: Globally, e-waste has grown by 21% in the last five years to around 59 million tons per year, and less than 20% is recycled right .
Some e-waste can also still be used. Instead of throwing your old computer parts away, it's environmentally responsible to recycle them. Fortunately, there are a few ways to recycle old hardware. All of these can help solve the growing e-waste problem and free up space in your home.
Old hardware, new uses
You may want to add only the most powerful hardware to your computer. However, there is no reason why you cannot use parts that you are replacing. Obsolete is not the same as broken, and with a little ingenuity you can get tons of miles out of replacement parts. With many parts on hand, you can assemble a basic computer that can be used as a home file server. A functioning home server does not require any high-end parts and offers you sufficient storage space to store your data. It's also possible to find some uses for just about each piece of hardware. For example, you can convert an old internal hard drive to an external hard drive with one.
If you really want to get creative, there is a lot more you can do with old parts than just find new ways to add them to your computer. For example, if you combine old fans, you can construct a makeshift air filter. You can even use hardware to create works of art or home improvement (DIY) projects such as: B. digital picture frames from old computer monitors. With a little creativity and an aesthetic appreciation for wires and circuitry, you can use these old pieces to make cyberpunk style furniture and utensils.
Recycling centers and local recycling days
If you just want to throw away your old electronics, send them to an official recycling center that will dispose of them properly. Search your area to see which recycling centers accept electronics, or if you can save a little time by going to All Green Recycling and entering your zip code to see if they can find drop-off points.
Your city's government website can also help: Many cities have a special day of the year when anyone can put old electronics on the curb for proper collection and recycling. If nothing else, they often have pages about local centers and recycling practices that you should know about.
Wipe and destroy your hard drive
If you want to free up your hardware, it is important to erase your hard drive first. Aside from the movies, music, games, and pictures you have there, there is likely to be some sensitive personal information as well.
Don't think that simply throwing files into your computer's trash is enough. Traces of data remain on the hard drive and advanced users can recover this information. Identity theft is a profitable and widespread business. So don't run the risk of someone intercepting your important data.
If you prefer to delete the data yourself, software is available for this purpose. The data erasure software runs through your hard drive and overwrites each data bit with zeros and ones. The recommended standard for erasing data is taken from the National Industrial Security Program Operator's Guide, also known as DoD 5220.22-M. These guidelines require the software to make three passes through the hard drive in question. However, if you feel extra careful, there is still more you can do.
While there are many free and premium programs that promise to erase your drive, they differ in terms of actual performance and security. We recommend starting with WipeDrive, which has a free home version that you can download with a code and impressive data erasing features for virtually any type of software on your computer.
However, modern hard drives with solid information are very durable and are great for storing information that doesn't require moving parts to access. With the right equipment, erasing alone is not enough to completely protect data. However, destroying these hard drives can be difficult. If you just smash them with a hammer, there is still a lot of data available.
Because of this, the latest hard drive disposal techniques break them into small pieces so that nothing can ever be accessed again. A variety of shredding services such as Shred-it and Sims Recycling offer this guaranteed protection method. This is especially important for businesses as current data protection regulations often require hard drives to be shredded and specialized services can provide the necessary documentation that the drives have been destroyed. However, individual consumers should also look for shredding services in their area.
As mentioned earlier, much of the discarded hardware can still be used. If you can't find a way to reuse computer parts for your own use, or if you just don't have the time to do so, please pass it on to someone who can. Many nonprofits and educational programs run on tight budgets, and donations of all kinds can ease their burdens. Given the importance of computers in running a modern organization, computer and hardware donations can be a godsend.
If you know local nonprofits in your area, give them a call to see if they need or can use your old hardware. Even if you are unfamiliar with your local nonprofits, there are resources available to help you get in touch with them. The National Cristina Foundation is an organization that directs computer donations to a variety of nonprofit organizations, primarily organizations with a focus on education or human resource development.
Canadians wishing to donate their computers can contact the Electronic Recycling Association. ERA has dispensing points in several major cities in Canada. They work with many nonprofits across the country, providing them with the computers and other hardware they need to stay afloat. You will also erase the data from any hard drives that you donate.
Another easy way is to get your computer parts to goodwill. Goodwill is a 501 (c) (3) national not-for-profit organization that provides professional training for people with disabilities. She collects donations by selling used goods across the country. They have locations in many cities and almost always take high quality items like computers and electronics with them.
Branded trade-in and recycling programs
Large computer manufacturers and distributors are generally aware of the damage that e-waste causes to the environment (and possibly their reputation). As a result, many of them have recycling programs where people can bring in products that they want to dispose of. If you have a computer or parts that meet certain criteria, these programs are a convenient and environmentally sound way to get rid of your parts. These links will help, and you can consult the full list also maintained by the EPA.
Apple's recycling program encourages customers to send in old Apple products that they want to recycle. The company's website also has prepaid shipping labels that you can use to send them in for free. If they find your donation is still in good condition for renovation, you will receive an Apple Store Gift Card.
Dell also offers free recycling services. The Dell Reconnect program is a partnership with Goodwill that allows you to introduce products that Dell then either refurbishes or recycles. Dell also recycles third-party products when you buy a new Dell computer and helps you swap your old Dell for a new one through an incentive program similar to Apple's.
IBM recycles branded products on your behalf and can recommend the best way to get rid of e-waste by state. However, IBM does not delete the data on your hard drive for you. So make sure you take care of it when you use the service. Also note that IBM will refuse to accept "cracked or defective monitor screens or products with visible leaks". Hence, you need to find other ways to safely recycle products with these issues.
Ink cartridges are an incredibly destructive form of waste that quickly builds up in landfills and leaks ink into the soil of our beautiful planet. HP is committed to mitigating this through its own recycling program by giving consumers the option to return their used ink cartridges and other HP products. The company even advocates buying new HP equipment and helps you if you'd rather donate your equipment to charity.
Sell your old hardware
If you're looking to get value from your outdated computer, and if the credits provided by branded recycling plans don't seem appropriate, you can always see if someone is ready to buy your technology. Find used computer retailers in your area and see if they are reasonably priced for you. Pawn shops are a great option, although it's important to note that you may not get a solid return on investment. Online services like eBay and Craigslist also provide a helpful platform to connect you with potential customers. Of course, they expect all salespeople to do some legwork.
If you decide to take a commercial route, keep in mind that most likely you will not make any significant profit. As explained earlier in this article, computer parts become obsolete almost instantly. The only thing that drops their value faster than their usefulness is their resale price. Some systems retain their value – Mac laptops and some avid desktop parts are known for this – but most are taking off immediately.