Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to dispose of an old computer

I was looking through our blog post schedule to see what I needed to write next, and saw that in our "fun post" category I had jotted down the topic, "how to dispose of an old computer." It's definitely not fun, at least in the sense that this post is going to explode on Pinterest anytime soon, but it is an oddly satisfying nagging task to cross off your to-do list. We wanted to switch over to a laptop from a desktop for our family computer primarily to cut down on clutter and available buttons for curious toddlers. I used a couple different tutorials to wipe our hard drive, but I've compiled all the steps here so hopefully someone can complete the task a little more easily. Here goes:

1. Back up all your files. If you have your new computer already, you could go ahead and transfer them to that one now. Some options include:

2. If you want to resell/give away your computer, make sure you have a CD/DVD version of your operating system you can reinstall after wiping your hard drive. If your computer didn't come with a physical CD, I think this article is pretty good. This article also says it has a free, legal way to get a copy of Windows 7 if you have a product key.

2. Use DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke) to permanently wipe your hard drive for security reasons. And when I say permanently, I mean permanently, so don't do this until you are good and ready. It writes over all of the data in your hard drive with random 0's and 1's several times so you're never going to get it back (but neither is any other nefarious character).

The software is good and the price (free) is right. I liked this tutorial. It includes the link for downloading the free DBAN .iso file.

Key points:
  • When they tell you to burn this to a CD, it's not just like burning your Napster downloads to a CD back in high school. You need to burn the "ISO image" to the CD. The tutorial includes a link to another tutorial on this process (which I ignored the first time... don't be like me-- do it right the first time).
  • This takes FOREVER. I think it took me about 8-9 hours to complete, and I did it twice (the second time may not be necessary, but I figured why not). 
4. Reinstall operating system using your DVD.

5. Decide how to dispose of your computer. You can resell it, donate it, or recycle it. Because computers have a lot of toxic chemicals in them, try using e-Stewards to find a proper recycling center for your old computer. Best Buy, Dell, and Apple also have recycling programs.

6. Congratulate yourself for getting this done.

Share: What other nagging tasks do you have on your "to do someday" list.

Credits: Fonts-- rhonnadesigns.com'


  1. My recommendation is anything older than 10 years recycle. Most communities have a annual or otherwise regularly scheduled electronic recycling drive.
    Around 5 years you are looking obsolescence in the eye but may still be very useful for an older adult to browse the net and send and receive emails.
    Newer than 5 try trading in or selling locally, if this is not a good option for you the internet abounds with selling opportunities but do your research and use proper caution.

  2. Very helpful rule of thumb! Thanks for the comment!


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