What do you do with an old computer when you get a new, faster, better, and more powerful one? It’s easy to dispose of them in landfills, but that’s not what to do with old computers

It is better to recycle, repurpose, sell, or donate old computers rather than polluting the environment by throwing an old computer away.

For example, improperly disposing of old computers can release harmful materials, like cadmium, mercury, and lead, into groundwater, which can pose health risks. 

This guide will show you what to do with an old computer and how to use it better. 

Let’s dive right in! 

How to Prepare Your Old Computer for Disposal

Regardless of what you do with your computer, you must take the necessary steps to prepare the device for disposal and protect yourself from scammers.

Follow the steps below to prepare your old computer for disposal:

1. Back up your data

Did you know that over 50% of people never delete files on their computer because they think they might need them later? 

If you need the crucial files later, the best option is to back them up. Windows have several backup options. 

Windows Backup

You can back up to your external drive or use cloud storage services like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox. 

If you want to back up your whole system, check this guide: The Ultimate Guide to Windows 10 Backup and Restore

2. Disconnect apps and services

If you have signed up for online services and logged in to apps and software on your computer, sign out from them before deciding what to do with old computer parts.

If you don’t log out, other people will get access to your accounts unless you’re planning on destroying your hard drive.

3. Encrypt your hard drive

Ideally, you should erase any data on your hard drive, but it’s not that simple.

According to America’s Cyber Defense Agency, cybercriminals can still access your data even when you delete files from your computer. 

The best way is to encrypt your hard drive, whether an HDD or SSD, before deleting it. You can turn on device encryption on Windows. 

Device encryption

If your Windows version doesn’t have device encryption, use BitLocker encryption

Related: Foolproof Methods to Wipe Your Hard Drive in Windows 10

4. Smash the hard drive

If you don’t need your hard drive, you can destroy it, especially if you don’t trust the data deletion process.

However, hackers can still extract data from your broken drive. So, it’s best to use an industrial shredder to destroy the hard drive. If you can’t get one, use a hammer.

Make sure to smash every single circuit board, chip, and platter on the hard drive.

Fun Fact
Did you know that IBM invented the hard disk drive (HDD) as a secondary storage device for its computers? The first HDD weighed a ton with the size of two medium refrigerators! Its storage capacity was 3.7 MB, equivalent to one digital photo! 

What to Do with Old Computers: Options for Repurposing

Here’s how to safely dispose of old computers by repurposing them:

1. Use your old computer as a media server

If you don’t know what to do with old computers and laptops, convert them into a media box. You can turn the old computer into a home server to feed data to other systems in your house.

For example, you can convert your old laptop into a media box to stream your favorite movies. The best part is that it doesn’t take much power to work, so you have nothing to worry about.

You can turn on media streaming in the Control Panel or use third-party software like Kodi or Plex

Related: How to Fix Media Streaming not Working on Windows 10?

2. Sell your computer parts

If you don’t know how to dispose of old computers, consider selling the parts online. If you want to make money, you can sell the whole PC or its parts on eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

Sites like Craigslist also offer options to sell your old computer. You can also ask your friends or people in your local area to see if someone wants to buy a fully functional working PC. 

However, as explained earlier, completely delete your data before selling. 

Install fun and educational software like Duolingo or Google Classroom to make the PC child-friendly. You can also install parental control software to protect your child’s privacy. 

E-waste exposes people to many harmful substances, such as mercury, lead, and nickel. Research shows a connection between e-waste exposure and numerous health effects. And there’s evidence that people near recycling towns show signs of damaged DNA. 

What to Do with Old Computers: Donating

Donating is one of the best ways to get rid of your old computer. Consider non-profit organizations if you don’t know where to take old computers.

Charities like World Computer Exchange or Donation Town allow you to donate your laptop to those in need. 

You can use Digitunity to find organizations in your local areas. 

Another option is to donate to educational organizations or schools that lack the resources and access to modern technology. 

What to Do with Old Computers: Recycling

There are several ways to recycle old computers, depending on your community. Occasionally, some organizations run recycling drives to get lots of electronics for other products.

Some communities have a safe place for disposing of old computers. These places are usually connected to garbage collection or recycling organizations.

You’ll have to do your research to find the exact location, including the time to send your old computers. 

If finding recycling places in your community is challenging, use Earth911, GreenerGadgets, or Call2Recycle to find recycling depots. 

Earth 911

Also, retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, or Dell offer programs where you can send laptops you don’t need again for recycling. 

Choose any of these methods to learn how to recycle old computers.

How to Get Rid of Old Computers Right

If you don’t know what to do with old computers, this article offers the best solutions for putting them to good use.

Instead of throwing them into the trash or keeping the PC in a storeroom, contact non-profit organizations who will donate them to those in need.

If it’s not working, contact an e-waste recycling center to dispose of the computer to avoid harming the environment.

Finally, make sure to delete any sensitive data from your old computer before recycling. This is highly important. Since cybercriminals can still access your data even after deleting it, make sure to encrypt your data before deleting it.

If you found this article helpful, share it with your friends and colleagues who might need it. Also, share your thoughts and tips in the comments below! 


You can use online resources like Earth911 to find areas in your state or community where you can dispose of your old computers. You can also check out retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, and Target to recycle PCs. Some of these places give you a store gift card for recycling your electronic devices. If none of the places mentioned work for you, consider non-profit organizations like Computer Aid International, InterConnection, and The Salvation Army. These organizations accept old working PCs as donations, refurbish them, and send them to those in need. 
It’s never good to throw your computer in the trash because it contains components harmful to the environment. For example, PCs usually contain materials like mercury, lead, and cadmium, which can enter the soil and the community water. Besides, throwing your computer in the trash may be illegal in your state. So, we recommend giving the components to someone who may need them or recycling them at the appropriate locations. 
If your old computer still works, consider selling it on an online marketplace, such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace, to earn some money back. You can also donate the computers to a charity or non-profit organization, such as your community center, a school, or The Salvation Army. Another option is to use it as a media server or home automation controller. 
You can recycle your old computers that don’t work through an electronic waste recycling program, such as LG recycling programThese companies will salvage and reuse functional components, such as graphics cards, hard drives, or memory, to create new products. Check your local recycling center to learn how to properly dispose of your old computer. 
Remove the battery from your computer and put it in a disposable container, like a plastic bag. Make sure the container is sealable. Then, search for a recycling center in your area, like Call2Recycle, and send the container to them. Note: Laptop manufacturers have made removing the battery difficult for most modern laptops. If there’s no obvious way to do so, consult the system’s manual or call customer service for support.