How To Dispose of Desktop Computers

Here I am going to make my desktop computer ready for disposal.

The most important thing would be to protect sensitive information like passwords, codes etc. that can still be in the computer even after hard drive formatting and operating system reinstallation.

Why should we bother blanking the hard drive? Well, when we blank the hard drive all the information is erased completely and nobody can ever recover it.

I will show you how to do it the fast way and the long way. If you have decided to sell desktop computers as second-hand items I suggest keeping the hard drive and not destroying it. Simply use Kill Disk or other software to blank it.

However, if you have decided to recycle then let’s destroy the hard drive the quick way. We will need a hammer, and a piece of plastic or wood to protect our flooring (or table). Maybe a piece of carpet would be handy as it will make less noise. 

Here is what we do. Our target is the disk inside but we cannot see it at first. I intentionally do not open the metal disk as when it breaks it shatters into pieces and can make a mess. Usually you will see where we need to make a dent as the metal lid almost always has some shape pressed into it. 

Here’s how it looks after a few hits. After this we need to open the hard drive and check did we hit the disk. 

This above is about hard drive destruction, but there is another way to do a data wipe quickly. However, it will cost some money as we would use commercial software that is described here (Kill Disk and Blancco).

As mentioned above the hard drive is the only thing you would worry about. Other things like logic board, memory etc. do not hold any data. 

How to dispose of a desktop computer case

A desktop computer case accommodates a few components that can’t be disposed of together. First of all it has a motherboard. This is a big printed circuit board that has the processor, memory and all the necessary additional circuits. It can be disposed with local recycling companies that accept consumer electronics products. In the U.K. there are even special bins in which you can dispose of electronics.

The power supply would also most likely go with the motherboard. Although its case is made from aluminum it is sometimes hard to separate the internal printed circuit board from this aluminum case. 

The rest of the case is made of aluminum and the front cover is made of plastic. The front cover is not that easy to remove and I usually leave it as it is. 

How to sell it as a refurbished computer

For a desktop computer to qualify as a refurbished unit it should have an operating system and be in a cosmetically good condition, i.e. minimal scratches. Also, it should have an operating system.

You should also check whether there are any buff capacitors and if there is one it’s better to discard the electronics or to replace the capacitor. What can happen if there is a faulty capacitor on the motherboard is described here.

One thing you must do if you’re selling those as refurbished units is to check the hard drive for bad sectors. This procedure does not take long. In fact, it will take less than one minute if you are using GSmartControl. The how to guide is here

You may wonder how you are going to install Windows operating system. No worries about this one. There is a lot of choice for Windows keys on eBay that come from scrap units. This actually makes sense and I am glad Microsoft did this to let Windows activations be performed on another computer, although not all Windows versions will work on older desktop computers. There can be Windows 10 drivers for older systems that are difficult to find. This is also true for laptops as on newer models you need to install Windows 10 as Windows 7 simply won’t install at all. 

Desktop computers usually have various cards, for example a video card or a sound card that are not integrated in the motherboard but are separate cards. Those cards also usually do not store any sensitive information. They can be disposed of together with the motherboard or can be sold on eBay. Modern graphics cards can be sold for good money. 

Some desktop memory modules (RAM) can be sold for crazy money, even for more than they initially retailed. This is true for some memory that is rare and the production has stopped so there is a huge demand for it.  

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