What do I do with my old laptop?
January 10, 2017 11:36 AM   Subscribe

I got a new one. Now what do I do with the old one?

It's probably too old to sell for any decent amount of money. I don't want to just toss it. If I keep it just for writing etc. and don't access the internet on it anymore, what might I need to consider in terms of the battery etc.? This is my first outgrown laptop so I have no experience with the "decommissioning" process.

If I do ever choose to sell it, give it away or otherwise pass it along, how do I ensure all personal info is removed?
posted by I_Love_Bananas to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have a friend who turned an older laptop into a media box running Kodi. Maybe a repurposing like that would work for you?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:49 AM on January 10, 2017

What kind of laptop? Check Gazelle.com to see if they'll give you any money or help with recycling. If it's a Mac, the Disk Utility program will help you wipe personal info before you discard the laptop. Apple has a page describing the steps.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 11:51 AM on January 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

You can salvage the ram and disk easily - put the disk in an external case and you have more storage. You can probably sell the memory, but it might not be worth the effort, as memory is fairly cheap nowadays, unless it's a really big stick.

If you're somewhat handy and technical (or fearless if you're not), it's trivial, honestly, to crack open the back of the lid and (carefully!) remove the lcd/backlight combo - search YouTube for videos on monitor replacement for your laptop brand and model. On the actual module you should find your model number. Google 'lcd converter kit' and your module's model number and you should find a link to a vendor (usually on Ebay, so caveat emptor and all that) that sells lvds-to-hdmi or -vga adapters. Then, lay it face-up into a cookie sheet after cutting holes in the sheet for power and data cabling, screw it down, affix some sort of bezel on the edge of the sheet (I suggest a cheap window/door/tub flashing kit - strictly speaking it's not really necessary: you could do it with stiff cardboard), and voila: new external monitor of whatever size screen you had before. I say you should be somewhat handy or technical, but really, if it's an old laptop and you're going to trash it if you can't find something to do with it anyway, why not take the opportunity to explore?
posted by eclectist at 12:49 PM on January 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Is there a benefit to having a second machine just for doing writing on in your life? Often when I've had similar thoughts, I've ended up always just using the newer system 99% of the time and the old one gathers dust. The battery will slowly lose capacity, both from disuse and from the aging process. If it goes completely bad, you should recycle it rather than throwing it out. There is some increased risk of the drive failing with time so make sure you do regular backups.

If you want to get rid of it and it's under 4 years old I'd look at donating it to a thrift store or other charity. If it's older than that, my general inclination is to list it for free or next to nothing on Craigslist or Freecycle, and let it be someone else's problem. If it had a DVD drive and decent audio, someone might enjoy putting it to use as a media player.

how do I ensure all personal info is removed?

DBAN will thoroughly wipe the drive if it's Windows (or an Intel based Mac). Or to be really paranoid, pull the drive entirely and give it to an 8 year old with protective eyewear, a hammer, and a can of coke.
posted by Candleman at 2:33 PM on January 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

Stick a flavor of Linux on it, and use it for media streaming to your telly, or as a nightlight/music box for your bedside table.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:42 PM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

How old is old? 2011-era hardware is still great if you retrofit it with an SSD and max out the RAM.
posted by Talez at 5:59 AM on January 13, 2017

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