If you have an old (possibly broken, possibly obsolete) computer lying around your home you may be wondering how, exactly, you should deal with it. One of the easiest ways to deal with obsolete technologies is to throw them away. Unfortunately, this is a tad bit irresponsible in our present age of ever increasing purchases. A better option is to recycle your computer.
Recycling or Donating
As alluded to in our introductory sentence, people generally want to get rid of their old desktop or laptop computer for 1 of two reasons
- The computer still works; however, it has become obsolete due to its speed.
- The computer is broken or in non-working order. Perhaps the computer won’t turn on or perhaps it won’t load its operating system.
In the first case, it is generally preferable to let someone else use the computer – in other words you should donate it to an individual or organization. Under such a scenario, there is little need to use energy for the refining or smelting of internal components.
In the second case, you can’t simply donate the computer as it isn’t working. Instead you should recycle it.
Donating Your Computer in Vancouver
An obsolete, yet working, computer is a prime target for donation. Here are some of the easiest ways to donate your PC within Vancouver.
- If your are trying to get rid of a desktop computer (with a minimum P4 3.0 Ghz) or a laptop (with a minimum P4 1.8 Ghz) then head over to the Computers for Schools website. Computers for Schools is an organization which focuses on donating computers to schools, libraries, community centers and other non-profit organizations throughout BC.
- If your computer doesn’t meet the specifications noted above then you may want to donate your old computer to Free Geek Vancouver. Free Geek Vancouver is a non-profit organization which focuses on computer reuse as well as computer recycling. Members of Seymour Computer Repair have dealt with this organization several times and they seem very reasonable. What they typically do is piece together computers (from older parts) and then sell them at very affordable prices.
- Ask around your friends and find out if anyone is in need of an older, yet still working, machine.
- Go onto Craigslist and create a posting under the Free section. Get ready to be inundated with emails though :]
Recycling Your Computer in Vancouver
A broken or non-working computer is slightly different than an older working one because it can’t be reused as is. There are 2 simple ways to recycle your PC within Vancouver.
- Head over to Free Geek Vancouver (discussed in point 2 – above) and give them your machine. As mentioned previously, Free Geek Vancouver not only sells older working machines, but they also take out spare parts from non-working computers in order to create something that does work. The best thing about Free Geek is that they turn a recycling endeavor largely into that of reuse (the only parts which are recycle are those which can not be used in any reasonable manner).
- Head to a local Encorp (Return-It) location. Encorp is in charge of the recycling of a wide range of products including desktop and laptop computers. Unlike Free Geek, Encorp doesn’t attempt to reuse any of the components they receive. Instead, as their website states, they ship everything to appropriate processing and recycling contractors (who through refining and smelting are able to reuse some of the materials).
Steps to Take Before Recycling Your Computer
There isn’t really very much you need to do before you donate or recycle your computer. Nearly any reasonable organization (including Computers for Schools, Free Geek, and Encorp) has a policy in place which requires them to effectively delete/wipe your entire hard drive (and all of your files).
If you do have sensitive information on your computer then it may be prudent to effectively remove it before you do any donating or recycling. Here is how to do it:
If your computer is working (in other words, if you can boot into Windows).
- Place all of your confidential files into the Recycle bin
- Download and install the free application called Eraser. Eraser can be found here.
- Click on Erase Schedule -> New Task
- Click on Add Data
- Click on the Recycle Bin button and click Ok.
- All of the files in the Recycle bin will now have been permanently erased.
If your computer is broken (it can’t boot into Windows) then things are a little bit tricker (and you might need to ask for help or bring your computer into a repair shop – such as Seymour Computer Repair). In any case, here are the 2 simplest options
- Open up your broken computer and take out your hard drive. Connect this hard drive to a working computer and then use Eraser as directed above. Once everything has been delete, put the hard drive back into the broken computer.
- Download a free program called Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN for short). You will need to install DBAN onto a CD or USB key and then boot from this CD or USB key. You should see a blue screen which describes what you need to do next (generally you type “autonuke” and then hit the Enter key).
It is very important to note that tools such as Eraser and Darik’s Boot and Nuke permanently erase data – you only want to use these on data which you no longer need. If you accidentally erase files using these programs – they are GONE FOR GOOD! This should not be a problem, however, if you are going to recycle or donate your computer.
The computer industry seems to be continually moving forward. Consequently, people are often in need of getting rid of old desktop and laptop systems. If this is the case, and you happen to live in Vancouver, then we would recommend that you attempt to either donate your machine to a worthy cause or, at the very least, recycle it.
If you do decide to donate or recycle your computer but need help permanently erasing your data then feel free to call us, Seymour Computer Repair, and we can perform this task for a reasonable rate.