Computer systems are decreasing in price, and this has paved the way for cheaper upgrades and even complete swap outs to more powerful, brand new systems. Hard drives, for example, are gaining bigger capacities and becoming much cheaper to buy, and even faster solid state drives (SSDs) are dramatically coming down in price, making them a more attractive alternative to mechanical hard drives – especially as they give older systems a much-needed boost of power.
So once you have upgraded to the latest tech, what do you do with your old computer parts and systems? Throwing it in the bin or dumping it somewhere is obviously NOT a good idea for many different (and hopefully obvious) reasons, so here is a rundown on what to do with your old PC bits.
Wiping data from hard drives
The hard drive of a computer stores information or data when you use it. Many people believe that simply formatting the drive will wipe any personal data from it, but sadly this is not true.
Formatting a drive simply wipes the database of files contained within it, which can then be overwritten, but the actual file data itself is still intact. Therefore, the best way of wiping a drive is to overwrite every part of the drive that can be written to. These parts are known as ‘blocks’.
There is freely available software that you can download which low-level writes every block with a ‘0’ or a ‘1’, rendering any data virtually irrecoverable. Of course, there is a slight chance that a determined person can try to retrieve any old data of yours, so if you have particularly sensitive information that you wish to be 100% sure is going to be gone forever, you should consider using the services of a data destruction company, who will physically destroy your drive much in the same way you would do with paper in a shredder for example.
Selling or donating old computers and parts
Once you have taken care of the hard drive, you could sell the rest of your computer gear online using websites such as eBay or Gumtree. Although you would obviously not get as much money for it as you paid for it brand new, you could still earn a few quid which you could put towards the cost of your new system.
Alternatively, if you are feeling charitable, you could donate your old computer parts to a local charity. Many of the smaller charities cannot afford to buy or lease brand new computer systems, so if your old computer is only a few years old and can run most of today’s software packages, they would gladly welcome your old kit and put it to good use.
Another option is to take your computer system down to your local waste disposal centre, as they will usually be able to take in electrical items for recycling, in particular the old CRT-style monitors which are now pretty much obsolete in the computer world.
If you have several computers and computer parts that you need to get rid of, and your business or organisation doesn’t have the facilities and manpower to remove them, then it is worth invoking the services of an IT disposal company to arrange collection and recycling of your old kit, and the safe destruction of any hard drives or media with sensitive data on it.