Whether you own or manage a small business with dozens of computers or you work at home with a single PC, at some point you'll need to replace your computer systems. When that time comes, what do you do with your old PCs? You have a variety of options -- selling, donating, upgrading, repurposing and recycling -- each with benefits and shortcomings. Lets review the options.
How to Dispose of Old PCs
1. You Can Sell It
Our first choice is to sell old computers, since the proceeds could help offset the cost of new equipment. Depending on what your old hardware is actually worth though, you could find that selling is not a cost effective option. Lets say for example that your system is worth $250. Online auctions have posting fees and take a percentage of the sale. PayPal takes its cut, plus you might get stuck absorbing some of the packaging and shipping expenses.
Next factor in the time you need to research the systems' value, place the ad, monitor the auction, and finally manage the delivery of the items. These costs come out of your profit, and you need to decide whether it's worth your time and energy.
2. You Can Give it Away or Donate It
While your older PCs no long meet your business needs, it's likely that someone on your staff would appreciate having it. While the thought of giving away once-expensive equipment may give you pause, there are advantages to it. For instance, the burden of removing the PCs from the office shifts to the employees, which means no moving, storage or liquidation fees to contend with. The computers will be removed quickly; freeing up space for the replacements, and -- bonus points -- it creates good will with your employees.
Alternatively, you could donate old PCs to a worthwhile charity or other non-profit group. Numerous organizations will take your old systems and refurbish them, ensuring that the equipment works well and runs legal software. Considering that most of these non-profit organizations will use these systems for email, Web browsing and basic office tasks, recipients should benefit greatly from your contribution.
Just remember, this isnt a service for removing all of your antiquated hardware. Many groups wont accept equipment that's more than 5 years old. They also prefer that you donate complete systems, with all accessories and original software.
In addition to doing a good thing, the hardware you donate qualifies you for a tax incentive. Business donors are allowed to deduct the un-depreciated value of the computers, while individuals can deduct the current market value. For more information on donating computers, check out Computers with Causes. You can find other organizations via the Microsoft Registered Refurbisher directory.
3. You Can Upgrade It
Of course, getting rid of old computers isnt your only option, especially if they're only a few years old. You can extend the life of your aging hardware by investing in some upgrades. Most computers, particularly desktops, are designed to be upgraded. Memory, hard drives, graphic adapters, and in some cases even system boards and processors can be replaced with newer, more powerful components.
By investing in some smart upgrades you could significantly enhance your PC's performance, increasing its usability for years to come, and at a fraction of the cost of a new system. One of the easiest and most cost effective upgrades you can make, for both laptop and desktop PCs, is to increase the memory. Going from 2 to 4GB of RAM will produce a dramatic increase in overall system performance. Processor upgrades can also be beneficial.