5 Good Reasons to Ditch Your Old Computer

Photo by Flickr user Eurleif

If you’re anything like me, there are computers in your house or apartment in strange places. I have two under my workbench, sitting idle “just in case” I need them for something, and there are two more in the guest room closet because…well I just couldn’t come up with somewhere else to put them. One of them is my old primary machine and the other it my old home server , the two under my workbench were always “just in case” systems.

They’re all sitting idle, and I loathe plugging them in and powering them up because frankly, I don’t have a real use for any of them and don’t need my electric bill to be any higher. I have a maglie calcio poco prezzo laptop in case my desktop blows up, a newer home server, and yet I , like many geeks , am hanging on to them more for sentimental value than any practical use. Lately, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I need to just up and get rid of them. Here’s why you should pull those old socket 939 motherboards and IDE hard drives and recycle them.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great uses for your old tech , if you want a test system, want to fiddle with an OS you don’t normally use, want to build a guest computer, roll your own NAS, build your own firewall , tons of great uses for all of that old gear. Here’s the problem though: once you’ve done all of those things and you still have computers squirreled away under your bed, what do you do?

It’s all too easy to just let them collect dust because someday you might need a new machine, even if you already have all of the ones you want to use built up. In writing this, I’m assuming that by “old tech” we’re talking about last-generation’s gear , processors that are incompatible with the systems you’re running, RAM that won’t fit, IDE hard drives when all of your machines are SATA, motherboards for which you don’t have processors. I’m here to help, so listen to me: get rid of them. Here’s why:

  1. You already have the systems built that you need. If this applies to you, start loading your extra boxes up immediately. You don’t need any more rationale. You have the systems built that you need built, and even if one of them happens to go belly-up, are you really going to go back and replace your Core 2 Duo home theatre PC with an Athlon Thunderbird-based system? If your 250GB SATA hard drive grinds to a halt, are you guys to toss in an 80GB IDE drive? Of course not , you’ll hit up Newegg or Amazon and pick up a suitable (and very cheap) replacement, or you’ll upgrade. Give it up , toss the old crap in the car.
  2. Your old gear has hit the “antique” price point. Technology prices change over time , the good stuff is expensive when it’s released, and then over a few months the price goes down as we march closer to the release of the next big thing. After the next big thing is released, the price drops sharply. But as time marches on and people move away from that tech entirely, the price starts to creep back up as the supply dips and the demand dips , fewer and fewer technology retailers stock the parts, and if you have an old system that uses it, you’ll have to search high and low for replacement parts and you’ll pay an arm and a leg to get them. If you’ve got an old system like that , like a Socket 939 motherboard, for example , in your closet like I do, good luck finding another one. Load it into the car, get rid of it.
  3. Your electric bill is high enough. Let’s be honest with ourselves: no one wants to pay MORE on their electric bill. I don’t care if you’re a Loyd Case and have solar panels on your roof and make a little money selling the power back to your local utility, who wants to open their electric bill one month and find that bringing that old PC back online for essentially no good reason or as a guest-room PC has added 20 bucks to your bill because it’s ancient and inefficient. And I’m not even getting into the environmental benefits of running lean, mean, efficient systems in your home as opposed to energy guzzlers. If your reason is worth the extra money, that’s one thing, but if you know full well that it’s not worth the extra money, save it , for the money you’ll spend in electric on that old system over the next six months, you can probably pick up a netbook for the guest room and pay a tiny fraction of that in power costs.
  4. The new stuff is oh so much better. As much as I’m a fan of cannibalizing old systems to upgrade new ones, there’s a certain point where you realize that your time has value as well as your money. You can hit up Dealnews or SlickDeals and find entire systems for $2-300, pre-built, with decent components. A couple more dollars in your own upgrades or even a couple of compatible hard drives or video cards from your old rig, and you don’t have to spend time troubleshooting the motherboard out of your old system that you remember being kinda flaky but probably works. For that $200, you get not only a system with up-to-date components that perform better than the stuff under your bed, but you get the time back you would have spent on it. If you have the time to spend, that’s one thing, but me? I’d rather get elbows deep in newer tech that probably works as opposed to older tech that maybe kinda sorta works.
  5. Decluttering is awesome , and it leaves room for better things. I’m not suggesting you throw out all of your gear and leave yourself with nothing , but I am saying you’ll feel much better about picking up that shiny new netbook if you don’t have that ancient machine you haven’t powered up for ages sitting in the closet. Getting your old full-size towers out of the garage, wiping the drives, and sending them off to be recycled or re-used leaves you room for other things, or leaves you room to breathe if you don’t want to fill it with more stuff. Admit it, we all have too much stuff in our lives and cleaning it out and streamlining your life isn’t just zen-like and awesome, it’s classy too. Besides, when you’re looking for a place to put your new iMac, you can put it where that old 19-inch CRT used to sit!

Again, if you have a real reason to keep that old tech; like you really love the case and want to build your next computer in it, or if you’re planning on tossing all of magliette calcio a poco prezzo IDE hard drives into USB enclosures for backups of your music collection (although I wouldn’t recommend this, since IDE drives are older and more prone to failure than a newer SATA drive), or you’re hanging on to that old Dell pizzabox because you want to try rolling your own firewall, then by all means go ahead , don’t let me stop you!

This advice is targeted at those folks (I know who you are , I look in the mirror and see you!) who have systems lying all over the place that they don’t know what to do with, but they keep them anyway as if they’re some kind of badge to their geek cred. Listen , no one’s impressed that you have a Pentium 2 machine in the garage that you’re not doing anything with, and it’s not doing you any good.

Do yourselves (and me, and anyone you’re trying to impress) a favor and do a little housecleaning. Call your local charity like Goodwill or The Salvation Army to see if they could use your old systems, or contact your local e-cycling center or company to find out when you can drop them off. Even schools and libraries don’t take donations of old equipment very often anymore , they want newer stuff for their classes and kiosks , computers that have support agreements so they can call someone for help, or something new enough that people using them will at least see something familiar when they sit down to use it. Nevertheless, it’s worth giving them a ring to see if they want it. Whatever you do though, make sure you dispose of your old gear properly (and make sure you properly wipe the hard drives of any machine you get rid of , seriously, snag a copy of Boot and Nuke or the Ultimate Boot CD and do a low-level format before letting go), and don’t just toss it in the local dumpster.

You’ll do yourself a favor, you’ll do the environment a favor, you’ll do your wallet a favor, and you’ll do your sanity a favor by tossing that old junk and making way for new shinies. Trust me.

Author Description

Alan Henry

There are 5 comments. Add yours

  1. 6th December 2009 | Loli says:
    Ok, I know I should just clear it all out (5 dino machines - ok, 6 - but my original laptop isn't going anywhere just yet,) but... ok, yes, that crt is hogging a lot of desk real estate and I unplug it when I am not using it because it takes almost as much energy as my refrigerator, but... *sigh*. Maybe I can donate them to the homeless shelter?
  2. 7th December 2009 | sjon says:
    My old 386 full tower will never go away. nor wil my first notebook. Both the first that I bought myself. And they both still work. Most of the other boxes are collecting dust, I just have to findd time to scrub the disks clean and shive them out. there is a lot of them (I got 25 computers at home, ... )
  3. 7th December 2009 | Alan Henry says:
    That's one place you may want to look, Loli! Or a local employment center if you have one - often they can often use additional computers and peripherals for kiosks! I know, I know, it's difficult to let go of some of that old gear, but trust me, even the new shiny stuff is affordable these days...if you need something new and shiny to replace the old and busted at all! You may not. ;)
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