With computer and electronic prices getting cheaper and cheaper, many of us have been a lot quicker to get a new laptop computer to upgrade or a better mobile device or take advantage of a new feature on a newer device. Let’s face it some of us just can’t resist the allure of “new”! A byproduct of chasing “new” is that we accumulate a lot of “old” devices that are still functional, in many cases.

So what do we do with all these “old” devices? Do we become pack rats, holding on to computers that we will likely never use again? If you’re like me, you don’t have an infinite amount of space to store all these “old” computers and it just seems criminal to simply throw them away.  If you have found yourself in this situation, I will offer you a few alternatives to deal with your growing pile of “old” computers and/or electronics.

Start by separating your “old” devices into a couple categories:

  • Non-functioning or broken
  • Out-Dated
  • Functioning / Minor issues

Non-functioning or broken is self-explanatory. This is the stuff that is simply broken and no longer functioning. There may be some redeemable parts that they can be used for but outside of that this is the ‘paper weight’ category.

Out-dated is the category that you would put your computer that has Windows 2000 on it with an 850 Mb hard drive. The computer may still start up but will be inadequate for the vast majority of new software and the hardware components. Think of devices that you no longer have the power supply for and are unable to find a replacement. Think of your 1st generation iPod that no longer plays nice with the newer versions of iTunes.

Functioning or minor issues is the category for the computers and electronics that you simply abandoned for the shiny new toy! The desktop that the DVD drive died on but still works very well or the old mobile device that suddenly became too small for you to read once you saw the new ‘big screen’ device. This category of devices could often have been repaired (if there was a minor issue) but the allure of “new” made you abandon it.


  1. Re-purpose – Is there another function that the device can perform? For example, you have a netbook that is out dated or only has minor issues. Instead of letting it sit or discarding it, use it as a dedicated music player. Even out dated computers are pretty good at storing and playing music files. I have a stereo receiver in my den and I use my old netbook as the music player for that room. The netbook battery is dead so it has to stay plugged up, the processing power is minimal and the screen is too small to be very productive, but it’s perfect to stay connected to my stereo and playing music. The Wifi still works on the netbook so I can even stream some music.

  Be creative with your “old” devices and you will surely think of a few ways those “old“ devices that still function can be used. Got an old iPhone? They make great iPods …. Old desktops make     great network storage units or as an “Internet station”.

  1. Recycle – Save the planet. Most cities have recycling stations that you can take old electronic too to discard. Depending on your state of residence and the type of electronic devices you are discarding, you may be able to make some money while you do your part to save the planet. Non-functioning or broken devices are best for recycle, but they will not deny working devices. Circuit boards, processors, transistors, memory, IC’s, EPROMS will contain other precious metals like Silver or Platinum which are worth money. Usually, older electronic and computer scrap tend to yield better results because more precious metals were used in the manufacturing process years ago. Material produced before 1995, will contain more precious metal value than parts manufactured after. The parts in a 386 or 486 computer will contain more gold than newer computers. This is also true for cell phones.
  1. Donate – One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Out dated and functioning devices with minor issues are perfect for donation. You don’t want to donate something that does not work, but it does not have to be fully functioning. Consider donating your old laptop or desktop to a needy child. They won’t need all the bells and whistles but if they can get online and perform basic computer task, like word processing and such, that can be a great benefit to someone. Consider donating through reputable organizations if you don’t know of any one that you can donate to directly. Do a good deed and feel good about yourself.
  1. Sell – Ebay is your friend! You can sell things on Ebay that you think that there would be no interest in. If you have legacy devices or really vintage stuff, there is a market for old devices. Some people will buy your old devices for parts that can no longer be found or because they are collectors. Ebay is not the only place to sell either. Consider Let Go, Offer Up and a slew of other places that let you post items to sell.

So, now comes the hard part….. get up and get rid of the mountain of “old” computers and electronics. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment, you will clear some valuable space and you may make a few bucks along the way!

Author: Keith Barney

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