5 Ways to Get Rid of Old PCs - Page 2

By Ronald Pacchiano
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4. You Can Repurpose It

As your computers get older, their usefulness as employee workstations diminishes. It doesn't mean they're junk, they're just outdated for that task. If you repurpose or change the machine's function within your organization, you can still get plenty of value out of it. For example, older systems like this make ideal general purpose PCs. These could be used in areas like conference rooms or lobbies where visiting clients could revise or print a document, check their email or simply browse the Web.

Don’t be concerned if the system looks worn out or outdated. Just place the tower in a concealed location, maybe behind a cabinet or under desk, attach a wireless mouse and keyboard to it along with a large LCD display and no one will ever know.

You could also use these computers to run an alternate operating system like Ubuntu. Ubuntu is an offshoot of the Linux operating system and has pretty modest hardware requirements. Therefore a system might be slow and underpowered when running Windows works quite nicely as an Ubuntu desktop or server.

If you’re not interested in pursuing an alternate OS, then you might convert your old PC into a Network Attached Storage device. NAS lets network administrators quickly and easily add additional storage space to their network environment without the need to take down or open their primary network servers.

These devices are relatively inexpensive and have far few features than dedicated servers do. However this simplicity is part of their appeal. NAS devices are the perfect solution for offloading archive data or storing traditionally large files, like system images, CAD drawings, videos or virtual machines.

My colleague, Joe Moran wrote a great article for Small Business Computing that outlines how to convert your old PC into a NAS device using free software. There are numerous other uses you can find for your old PCs; all it takes is a bit of imagination.

5. You Can Recycle It

Finally, we come to te obvious option. If your computers don't work or are more than 5 years old, then it might just be time to scrap them. Notice though that I said scrap and NOT throw out. This is because computers are not the same as other trash. They contain hazardous materials, as well as plenty of recyclable material, which needs to be disposed of properly.

Not only is this good for the environment, but in many states, it’s also the law. Check out the list of recycling centers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website or Earth911. You should know that many of these recyclers will charge you a fee for processing certain types of equipment, such as monitors and laptops.

A Security Issue

Regardless of which option you choose, it is imperative that you wipe your hard drives of all information before parting with them. Remember, just formatting or erasing your hard drive isn’t enough; you need to perform a proper security wipe to sufficiently destroy the data.

I wrote an article called How To Delete a File ... For Good that explains how to do this. Due to the potential liability of improperly wiped drives, some companies won’t even accept a system that still has a hard drive in it. Be sure to check with your local refurbishing/recycling center for details.

Ronald V. Pacchiano is a systems integrator and technology specialist with expertise in Windows server management, desktop support and network administration. He is also an accomplished technology journalist and a contributing writer for Small Business Computing.

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This article was originally published on May 19, 2011
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