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Upgrades Hardware

Proper Disposal Of Old PCs? 409

Posted by simoniker
from the down-sewer-to-sea dept.
IMNTPC writes "Over the years, I've advanced from a 386DX-33 to a Celeron 1.3 Ghz system. I've slowly been accumulating enough old parts that now I think it's time to start disposing of anything that predates a Pentium 166. Does anyone know of a good place that will properly dispose/recycle of these old parts and PCs for little or no money? So far I've found pcdisposal.com, but anyone know of any others, either online or physical dropoff points in major metropolitan areas?"
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Proper Disposal Of Old PCs?

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  • Ebay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Killshot (724273) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @06:32AM (#7807412) Homepage
    I put all my old parts, working or not on ebay People are actually willing to buy them In fact I read an article a while back that NASA has been trolling Ebay for old computers to power our space shuttle.. apparently upgrading isnt as easy an option as it is for the average computer user
  • by wackybrit (321117) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @06:52AM (#7807460) Homepage Journal
    Instead of hoarding and facing this problem, you should have done something about it a long time ago. I upgrade all the time, but when I do, I always find someone to sell the old parts to, or can put them in a machine I'm building that someone buys from me on the cheap (this is how I seem to upgrade my CDRW about a billion times a year). But you need to get rid of old parts before they become old, otherwise you end up with the problem you're in now.

    If you sell the parts while someone still really wants them, and will pay good money, then you remove the whole problem of disposal. (Well, technically you push it on to someone else, but that's just as good) So next time you upgrade, go out and get those benjamins! It helps you rationalize the upgrade if you can get 50% of your costs back too ;-)
  • Re:Welll..... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by velo_mike (666386) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @07:13AM (#7807507)
    There's always Goodwill.

    I think this varies by area. When we left Denver for Europe 2 years ago, Goodwill wanted to pick and choose - some clothes were ok, others weren't. 3 15" monitors were unacceptable. They wouldn't take dishes but some cookware was ok, we were combining 2 houses into one and leaving the country, basically everything redundant had to go. In the end, I ended up telling Goodwill to piss off and took everything to ARC (Assoc of retarted citizens) or the battered womens shelters. Same tax right off, less headaches.
  • by aardwolf204 (630780) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @07:15AM (#7807511)
    I wonder how many other slashdotters have closets full of computer parts. Sometimes I think to myself that this is ridiculous. I've got 3 closets in my apartment and I refer to them as "monitors closet", "case closet" and "parts closet"... Even invested in drawers for the parts closet so I can find what I need (IDE cable, PSU, mobo) quickly.

    Why, oh God why do I keep 512KB SIMMs!! Someone just steal this stuff from me!
  • by openmtl (586918) <polarbearNO@SPAMbtinternet.com> on Thursday December 25, 2003 @07:54AM (#7807566) Journal
    As the IT person at a local school I don't automatically accept any PC and I tell staff to not drop off PCs that they get given. Why ? Many reasons.

    Firstly software: Being On Microsoft Schools Agreement means that any PC will thus cost money each year in the per-PC fees EVEN IF ITS USED WITH LINUX/*BSD. Don't matter - as long as its a Pentium class PC its fee liable.

    Most PCs that are handed in are slow, maybe of a motherboard brand thats not well know (meaning company gone bust so no BIOS updates) or of a unusual processor e.g. Intel in a AMD site or vis versa of uses old EDO memory (which now costs a lot to replace) or ....and it goes on.

    Also the device has to be electrically tested (which costs money) and prepped with correct build (driver issues here) plus would usually have to have a optical mouse added (small kids and balled mice don't mix !) and usually a new (i.e. clean without coffee and food) keyboard. Sometimes the harddisk is just 1 Gig or so which was big a few years back but now doesn't fit our standard image (intended for 2.5 Gig or higher). We also get offered old 14 and 15 inch screens - waste of electricity and room now. I'm happy with 17inch or **flat** but not less than that.

    This all takes up valuable time. Now in 3rd world and LDCs time is cheaper than parts but in any first world country time is the expensive component and taking old PCs is a false economy.

    Now many companies are dumping PCs on schools: why because in the UK and EU PCs are deemed as hazardous waste and thus have expensive disposal costs. They see schools as a nice way of offloading dispoal costs. Yeh great thanks but no thanks - we have a room filled with old '386/P133s already ! Once you have one router/firewall/Nessus scanner PC then you don't need any more.

  • by fataugie (89032) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @08:16AM (#7807598) Homepage
    OK, I know this is modded funny, but another true story from my past working at a local bank in the facilities dept.

    We would get orders on occasion to clean out storage rooms, repo'd houses, old offices, etc. The problem was, usually there was a bunch of stuff and only one dumpster behind our headquarters. We tried the "fill the truck and cruise around and fill up some other branch's dumpster" trick, but that usually ended in shouting matches.

    If we filled our dumpster, the cleaning people during the week would just toss the trash bags on the ground and make a huge mess.

    What we started doing was, the big, bulky items like chairs, computers, desks, whatever....we would place one at a time on the sidewalk (we were located in an urban downtown area). The longest anything ever stayed on the sidewalk was 15 minutes. People would take anything.

    It was actually a win-win for everyone, the people were happy, we were happy, the bank was happy. No one could sue (we figured we'd say the item was "stolen" off the sidewalk if they tried). This was not a sanctioned event by the bank, but they really didn't care because the task was completed (items disposed of).

    So, especially if you are in an urban setting, try leaving it outside on the curb with a "take me" sign on it.

  • pass it on... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by humanerror (56316) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @08:44AM (#7807653)

    I donate my geek skills to a non-profit here in San Francisco (an experience which has given me new insight into the phrase "legacy systems")... I scavenge hardware for parts off the free listings on craigslist.org [craigslist.org]. The usability and quality is generally better than what we get from donations (usually from local businesses looking to get rid of ancient hardware at no cost, just like you).

    If you live in an area covered by craigslist, just post a listing in the free section... someone will take it off your hands, I assure you. Or, take a few moments to locate a worthy local non-profit or charity and make a call or two. Even if the ones you call have no need for it, chances are they know some other org that would love to have it.

    Recycling is just one part of resource lifecycle management... don't forget about reduction and reuse.

  • Re:Two options (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reziac (43301) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @12:36PM (#7808289) Homepage Journal
    On that note -- having watched the used computer componets market for a long time, I've concluded that half of *current new wholesale* (NOT retail) for that part is a fair price for used parts; anything higher is a rip-off. So for example if a 40g HD currently wholesales NEW for $50, a used 40g HD in good working condition is worth $25. But it's NOT worth half of the $300 you may have paid for it back when it was bleeding edge.

    Was only a few years ago I saw a classified listing a "fully-loaded 286" for $800. Yeah, it probably cost over $3000 new, back around 1988, but in 1998 you were lucky to get someone to haul away a good working 486 for nothing. Some people sure have fantasies about the value retention of old computers!!

  • by Reziac (43301) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @01:06PM (#7808404) Homepage Journal
    There is a guy who makes clocks out of old dead hard drives and sells 'em for $25 -- very neat stuff. I'm sure a little googling will bring up his site; he has instructions for how to do it yourself, too.

    I've mentioned this before, but... in Bozeman MT there is a circuit-board company that used to pitch out all their defective boards, til they noticed the horde of local artists scavenging their trash. After that, they started selling 'em at a buck or two apiece. Seems the boards were in demand as bases for wall art. Similarly, I've seen some motherboards that were downright pretty (bright green with lots of parallel copper visible), that would probably strip down into nice art backings, especially for some sort of internally-lit hanging doodad. Anyway, it's a thought for you artistically-inclined types.

  • I used to work for a state university computer center. We often got rid of a number of still useful, but aging machines, all at the same time (when we got money for new machines and had no room for the old ones).

    We wanted to give them to local elementary schools. But in order to do that, we needed permission from the state bureau...which took forever, took a ton of money, and was basically a major hassle..

    So here's what we did: we befriended the guy in charge of the security camera on the loading dock. We brought him subs and beers. Then, when it was time to toss out computers, he would flick the monitor to a different relay for 20 minutes, and we would move everything out.

    Yeah. We stole it. And donated it to a "foundation," who removed serial numbers and gave the machines to the school.

    Apparently, the director of the computer center liked our plan...he stopped scheduling pickups for throwaways. Just put them on the loading dock, and let them disappear.
  • Re:EBAY!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eugene ts wong (231154) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @07:26PM (#7809920) Homepage Journal
    I heard that NASA buys XT processors on eBay. Can anybody verify this?

    In keeping more with the discussion, maybe people should see if there are users in other countries that can make use of old computers? I hear people keep speaking about countries that can't afford the latest & greatest. Well, if they can afford the shipping, then they've got "free" computers.
  • Re:EBAY!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zakezuke (229119) on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:47AM (#7810963)
    I second the eBay recommendation

    I too am in favor of the e-bay solution. Not only did the parents make valid points on hard to find parts, but there is sometimes software / hardware that just doesn't run well on faster systems. Sloppy programing i'd imagine, taking the time from the cpu clock. Not to speak of some older ISA hardware that just won't play well on anything modern. Specificly...

    1. E-prom programers... some people invested good money in a prom burner.... and why spend all that money again when you can just use a lame PC.

    2. Obscure interfaces.... I know that I have a non scsi scanner which requires an isa card to operate.

    3. Propriority TTL devices... often i've seen people use the printer port for TTL communications. In my experence, old motorola pagers are a good example of something that needs TTL logic.

    4. MFM / RLL / ESDI / some tape drives (qic-02 / qic-36 ) ... The last motherboard I had that took ISA slots was an asus p3v4x and it didn't take too kindly to the ESDI controler I had, nor the qic-02 controler. I've had to borrow an older system to pull the data from some of my older disks / tapes.

    5. Voicemail systems. Many a small buisiness were sold into a voicemail system that pretty much was a 386 / 486 class machine, with some 3rd party software and hardware that works perfectly, well, till the fans or disk give out.

    In short... there is still a logical application for ye-old 386, though few and far between. Some bugger on e-bay might actually need a lame machine for a lame task when the cost to upgrade to something new is too out of bounds.

  • by stuartkahler (569400) on Friday December 26, 2003 @02:26AM (#7811300)
    I used to like the geek factor of being able to point out my server computer in the corner that I built from scrap parts in the garage. Last summer, I realized that the thing was noisy (god, I hate constant din of fans and hard drives), bulky, and continuously converted a ~100 Watt power feed into heat in a room that I did not want extra heat in. Plus extra AC costs from May - September. And I was paying roughly $8.64 per month for it. (.1KW/H * 24h * 30 days * $0.12/KWh) That's over $100/year!

    The space I picked up from dumping that system gave me the room to put in a nice third system to invite an extra friend over for LAN gaming. My old K6-2 server was ass for playing games on.

    Now I automatically mirror important files across the LAN to the other computer. Media files are in a shared (read only) directory. I can open the FTP port to my main computer if I want to let a friend FTP some files from me. My backup router is sitting on the shelf at Best Buy 3 miles away.

    Traffic graphs and logging... Who cares? I don't have a 13 year old son who needs regular grounding for surfing for porn. My connection is 3mbps/384kbps, so I don't even need complicated load balancers. And I do want all of my machines to be on the same subnet for gaming.

    I only know one person who needs more than a router/firewall for his machines at home, and he opted for multiple connections instead. He has a dedicated line to work (which then connects to the net), and a dedicated line to the internet. The two networks never touch.

    I can understand using an old system as a terminal for web surfing instead of a better system, or setting it up as a 24/7 print and file server for homes with the other computers spread across the house. But using it as just a firewall/router is like driving nails with a jackhammer. It might be fun, but you look stupid doing it.

    It seems like you're using a lot of that old hardware because you can't bear to dump it, rather than using it to fill a legitimate need. Do you really need to do your routing, web serving, and backups all on separate machines? You're like a smoker carrying around matches, a lighter, and two pieces of flint.

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