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Please help me recycle/donate my old laptops.
August 13, 2012 10:05 PM   Subscribe

What to do with old laptops? I have one 13 year old Dell Latitude, doesn't turn on, probably useless (?) and a 4 or 5 year old Inspiron1505, still works okay, should have utility for someone. I'd like to know how to best dispose of the old one, and best securely wipe/possibly donate the more recent one. Are these appropriate/feasible goals? I have a ceramic drill bit if drilling through hard drives is required, and I live in a city, so I expect I'd have a range of options if things need to be done. Thanks in advance for your help! Any and all replies are appreciated.
posted by pineapple carver to Technology (8 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
It is not necessary to physically destroy hard drives and other media. Run a utility like GNU shred on the entire disk device. This is actually more secure than physical destruction. You can use a Linux distribution LiveCD that either comes with shred or allows you to install packages (so like, just about any one.)
posted by teatime at 10:35 PM on August 13, 2012


I've been using DBAN for years to wipe my hard drives, and it's very straightforward to use.

You can repurpose your old laptop - e.g. lifehacker link. They draw less power than desktops and have a battery backup in case the power cuts out so they work great if you attach a large external hard drive as a backup for your data.

Otherwise, since you're in a big city, there are usually plenty of local orgs that would appreciate working computer equipment.
posted by palionex at 12:13 AM on August 14, 2012


And googling for recycling resources
posted by palionex at 12:14 AM on August 14, 2012


My friend Seth's company, erasemylaptop.com, will UPS your laptops to their recycling facility, and send you photos of the disks being wiped and destroyed.
posted by nicwolff at 5:37 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


My city has an organization called Free Geek which accepts donated computers and computer equipment - they will repair and sell it cheap to those who could use it or (if it's beyond use) recycle it responsibly.

There may be a similar organization in your city.

I don't know about hard-drive wiping - so far, we've donated peripherals.
posted by jb at 7:19 AM on August 14, 2012


Best Buy does recycling of electronics.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:34 AM on August 14, 2012


It is not necessary to physically destroy hard drives and other media. Run a utility like GNU shred on the entire disk device.
I took a look at shred a little while ago when I had to clear out an old laptop myself, and, like your link points out, shred is actually useless in journaled filesystems [ext3/NTFS]. The workaround isn't too complicated, just be sure to convert to a non-journaled filesystem before shredding. There's a decent writeup on it here.
I've been using DBAN for years to wipe my hard drives, and it's very straightforward to use.
Unless you have a laptop with an SD card reader hooked directly to an internal USB connector, and a BIOS that can't disable it. DBAN doesn't run when any USB devices are connected, and in cases like this one you'll have to take the laptop apart, unhook the reader, and try again.
posted by xqwzts at 2:22 PM on August 14, 2012


DBAN worked great for wiping my more recent laptop! I had a brief snafu with this error message: here
but was able to resolve it easily.

And I found a local computer donation place using google :)

Now I will take them both to a nearby collection center for Dell Reconnect here, which is a partnership between Dell and Goodwill, where in one way or another they'll benefit someone else.

Thank you all for the help!


posted by pineapple carver at 1:40 AM on August 16, 2012


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