Can I salvage $50 out of this dinosaur?
March 27, 2016 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I have an old laptop to get rid of. How to best get a few dollars out of this?

My old laptop is 8.5 years old. It's an hp Pavilion 9000 series, 17" widescreen. The battery works, and I have the original charger and a nice laptop bag. The computer is functional but slow. I used it sparingly over the past few years for Windows-only items and for the DVD, but no longer need those functions. The DVD drive may no longer work, or may sparingly work. What is the best way to get a few dollars out of disposal?

I figure I can try to sell it on Craigslist, but is this just a pipe dream? I could probably get more for the laptop bag.

If I take it to a recycling program, will they pay or do I pay them?

Lastly, if I want to wipe it but keep Windows installed, is this possible? The installation disk is long gone.

posted by DoubleLune to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Unless it's a pricy brand, used laptop bags aren't worth loads. But a working laptop is a thing somebody might give you a few bucks for to have something for their kid that they didn't have to be afraid of stuff getting spilled on. I'd put it on CL or a FB for-sale group, list the flaws -- test the DVD part! -- and try asking for 'best offer,' while selling the bag separately.

(Do you know anybody with a kid and not a lot of money? I am a person like that and once I posted on FB asking if anybody was looking to sell their old laptop, cheap. An old friend gave us his daughter's outgrown Chromebook, in beautiful condition, free. We were overjoyed. Prior to that she'd used a very old desktop Mac, which had also been a free hand-me-down. Both made my kid think {1} people are awesome, and {2} if you have a thing you don't need and somebody else needs it, think about simply giving it to them.)

Recycling electronics is a money-making thing, so any recycling program asking you for $ is rather dishonest. Scrap metal places will give you a pittance -- not worth it unless you have a lot of junk electronics, but I mention it just to make clear that you should not pay somebody to recycle old computers; they're making money off it, not performing a public service.
posted by kmennie at 8:47 AM on March 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

I sold my ten year old laptop on eBay a couple years ago for ~$30 + shipping. I feel good about knowing it will be used by someone who wants it.

It's not a scam to charge for computer recycling - it takes a lot of labor to get the parts out, making it un-economic, and they're disposing of hazardous materials for you. There are some toxic computer recycling operations in developing countries that I would pay to avoid contributing to. Scrap markets are volatile, prices change, even if it was a money maker six months ago, it may not be today.
posted by momus_window at 9:18 AM on March 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I figure I can try to sell it on Craigslist, but is this just a pipe dream?

It costs you nothing to try, though dealing with flaky people interested in computers of that class may chew up more time than it's worth to you. There's Freecycle too.

If I take it to a recycling program, will they pay or do I pay them?

Many municipalities provide electronics recycling for free, but it varies from area to area. Best Buy used to take electronics for recycling but I am not sure if they still do.

if I want to wipe it but keep Windows installed, is this possible? The installation disk is long gone.

Unless you are computer adept, I would recommend against this, because Windows programs have a habit of strewing data outside of the user's home directory and it would suck to have your data compromised. If this is an XP machine, it should only be used with Linux on it at this point, as XP is not safe for anything outside of an expert to use. If it's Vista, you're still not doing many favors, as it goes completely out of support next year.

I would personally wipe it and see if a charity thrift store wants to try to sell it and if not just recycle it. The screen is not as big, but a $100 Chromebook will run circles around a nearly decade old computer at this point, so for basic browsing it's pretty close to worthless.
posted by Candleman at 9:21 AM on March 27, 2016

Throw in shipping and I'd buy it. I have a bunch of dinosaur boxes running Lubuntu. (3 kids + no cable means laptops where people would normally have a tv, and ya don't need too much power to run Netflix)

Since I couldn't imagine I'm the only one out there like this (my wife's belief to the contrary), I'd wager you could get 30-40, net.

BTW, the biggest annoyance with old laptops is the battery. If yours has a functional battery, that's a huge plus.
posted by jpe at 9:29 AM on March 27, 2016

And, by all means see if you can get more for it or want to give it to charity, but you can consider me a buyer of last resort.
posted by jpe at 9:34 AM on March 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Run Ccleaner, delete any junk programs, optimize, optimize. Market on Craigslist as a 17" screen for netflix, hulu, etc. Totally worth 50 clams. Check ebay to get prices for similar laptops.
posted by theora55 at 11:24 AM on March 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I'd say the biggie with this laptop is the screen size. Give the Craigslist ad a spunky title like '17" HP Pavilion 9000 and chill' and make particular note of the usable battery. To go the extra mile, find a place that sells/refubs this machine's batteries and put it in the ad, like "battery works but is old, of course. new ones are $X at " Being helpful helps legitimize the ad in Craigslistland.
posted by rhizome at 12:22 PM on March 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, create a new user, then delete your old user profiles. Run a program like eraser to overwrite unused drive space. There can be old personal data on the drive. Most users would never find it, but it's not a good risk to take.
posted by theora55 at 3:57 PM on March 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

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