How to get rid of old laptops?
July 1, 2016 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Seeking advice on the best way to get rid of two old laptops.

Laptop #1: ~20 year old Toshiba. Turns on but the screen doesn't work. Weighs a ton.

Laptop #2: ~12 year old iBook. Works, but is slow. All photos, documents, etc. have been backed up, but I don't know how to make sure everything is securely deleted from the laptop. I don't have the original setup materials anymore.

Any thoughts on how to get rid of the information on the laptops and how to safely dispose of (or recycle or donate) the machines themselves? My solution for a decade has been to just pack and move them and store them in the basement but I'd rather be permanently separated from them this go-around.

posted by trixie119 to Technology (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Staples will accept electronics for recycling for free. I just got rid of a bunch of CD and DVD players that way.
posted by Ferrari328 at 12:27 PM on July 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Remove and physically disable the hard drives (here is a link to a wikihow with a list of methods, but honestly a few solid whacks with a hammer, or a drill through where the platters are (wear goggles!) should be more than enough for your needs).

Then take the laptop + hard drive to the disposal site of your choice. If you are in the US, Best Buy will accept them. Also, municipalities often hold e-recycling events.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:34 PM on July 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

Yes, big box electronics stores tend to offer recycling services (may be a cost associated). You can also check to see if your county offers electronics recycling, often they host recycling days specifically for those sorts of waste.

Regarding wiping your data from the iBook, you may be able to do this yourself using Target Disk mode. The iBook needs to have a FireWire port to support this, but basically the machine boots as an accessible external disk, and you connect it to another machine and wipe the data. If you have another Mac to connect to, you can use disk utility to erase the disk. Alternately, you can go to an Apple Store and they should be able to assist you. Make a Genius Bar appointment to avoid having to wait.
posted by bluloo at 12:38 PM on July 1, 2016

Most of my stuff that has any value whatsoever goes on ebay, and the rest of it goes into a Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk. They say not to make it too big, but I've received, and mailed, boxes large enough to put the majority of a laptop, if disassembled into components. I've also made a couple of friends this way.
posted by eclectist at 1:09 PM on July 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

There is likely to be an electronic recycling program in your town. In my experience they destroy the hard drive for you.
posted by k8t at 1:29 PM on July 1, 2016

1. The easiest way to wipe an HDD from an old machine is to remove the HDD from the chassis and beat it shapeless with a hammer - literally.
2. The rest of the laptop can go to a local e-cycle place if you have one, otherwise on eBay.
posted by splitpeasoup at 1:47 PM on July 1, 2016

Do you know somebody, probably not somebody at the 'just bought the iPad pro for my toddler' income level, who might appreciate the slow-but-functional iBook as a first computer for their young child? I'm sure they'd be willing to (find a way to, if they can't) help you wipe it clean in exchange.

If you have a FB account a simple 'Looking to give away old iBook to a family that could use it -- slow but working -- need help erasing my own junk from it -- any help/takers?' update should net useful responses.
posted by kmennie at 9:10 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

You could always remove the hard drive from the computer and stick it into a caddy so that it becomes a USB external drive.

The caddy is cheap (I paid about $15 on Amazon) and the drive can then be used for a whole host of things.
posted by mr_silver at 9:54 AM on July 4, 2016

Response by poster: I took them apart, destroyed the hard drives with a hammer (therapeutic!), and dropped them off at Staples. All good suggestions, thanks to you all!
posted by trixie119 at 3:55 PM on July 5, 2016

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