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Certified Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
Certified Bay Area Green Business
Small Business Locally Owned & Operated

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How to Dispose of Old Computers

How to Dispose of Old Computers

There are many better ways to get rid of old computers rather than throwing them in the trash.

Computers contain mercury, lead, and cadmium, which can leach into groundwater and contaminate local environments. Plus, if it’s not broken, there are other options for a computer that still works.

Find out a better way to dispose of your old computer here and the specific steps to take before doing so to protect your data security.

1. Repurpose Your Old Computer

You can actually repurpose many components, if not the whole computer, even if it’s not working.

An old storage drive can be wiped and turned into an external drive to provide extra storage or backups. You can also turn an old computer into a home server to connect electronics like streaming devices.

If you give your computer to a company for cash, they can salvage usable parts. Always lift your files and wipe all your personal information from the hard drive before handing it off to a third party for repurposing.

2. Donate Your Old Computer

If the computer is still functioning, consider donating it to a charity. Most charities have ways to repurpose unwanted electronics. There are several options for donation.

Some charities will upcycle or sell unwanted computers to raise funds. Others will use them as part of their charitable remit. For example, they might use the funds to help support veterans or people with developmental disabilities.

If you donate to your local church or community center, they also can use the technology for afterschool programs, children with less privilege, etc. Your local school or retirement home also may have a use for a functioning computer.

3. Recycle Your Old Computer

Depending on where you live, there are usually several options for recycling electronics.

Some companies will do a special haul of all those discarded televisions and computers in your garage. Or your local recycling depot may have designated days where you can dispose of multiple electronic items.

Recycling electronics is a specific process, so you’ll need to choose a designated recycling company or waste disposal center that dismantles and recycles any usable parts in an environmentally safe way.

What Should I Do With My Old Computer Before I Dispose of It?

Back-Up Your Files

Back your files up to the cloud or a USB storage device. Data backup can take a long time, so it’s a good idea to do this routinely, once a week or once a month. Routine backup means you’re protected if your computer has a sudden failure.

Wipe Your Personal Information

Whether your computer is destined for upcycling, charitable donation, or the trash, you’ll need to lift all your personal information from the storage drive. Most people have bank information and social security details on their computers as a minimum.

Deleting files and sending them to the recycling bin does not remove them from the hard drive. The information is still there. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has excellent online information on how to wipe personal data.

Don’t assume that, just because your computer no longer works, that sensitive data is not accessible. Even if you’re donating it to charity, you can’t be sure who will have access to it in the future.

Destroying the hard drive is one option, although this is easier said than done. Some facilities will shred the hard drive, and some document shredding companies offer this service.

It’s possible to recover data from hard drives damaged in a flood or fire with the right knowledge and specialist equipment. Trying to destroy it yourself physically isn’t the smartest option and probably won’t work.

Beware of sending it away. Do you know that the organization you are sending it to is legit and how secure is the drive in transit?

If the computer is going to be repurposed or donated, leave the hard drive intact.

There is software available, either free or for a fee, that overwrites existing data on the hard drive. Be careful to source this from a reputable outlet, so you are 100% certain the provider isn’t selling your data to a third party.

Need Help Disposing of E-Waste? Get in Touch

In California, it’s illegal to throw e-waste in the trash. Get rid of your old computer properly, safely, and legally with Nixxit.

If your old computer still works, we’ll rehome or donate it as part of our environmental commitment. We’ll dismantle unusable computers to protect the environment and recycle any salvageable parts.

Dispose of your old computer and other e-waste safely and responsibly with Nixxit Junk Removal’s computer disposal and recycling for the Bay Area.

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nixxitjunk · Jan 23