Redundant PC? Recycle it!

Recycle Symbol (Colorful on White Background Version 1)Some laptops or desktop computers seem to be destined for the household recycling centre when perhaps they are still usable?

What decisions lead to an ‘End of Life’ determination for computers? The most common answer is that a newer model has been bought, making the existing pc redundant. Of course, it’s probably running slow or doesn’t have enough memory or good enough graphics for whatever software is running.

There’s the added issue at the moment in that Microsoft Windows XP® is itself End of Life (EoL) and will not receive any vital security updates in the future. Often the choice between paying for a Windows 7 or 8 installation DVD (assuming the PC is adequate) is little less than the cost of a new Windows 8 laptop.

Whatever the reasoning, that means there’s a redundant PC that needn’t be thrown away. Always consider recycling.

Firstly, there are schemes to help donate unwanted equipment to charities. As ever, exercise caution here and ensure that the hard-disc is wiped of all personal data (once you’ve copied it). If necessary seek professional advice.

Secondly, is there someone in your family who needs a PC?

Ah, but it’s no good giving a useless PC to someone? Is it?

There are free alternatives to Microsoft Windows that will run quite happily on an old laptop or desktop, giving you the standard suite of programs for browsing, email, graphics, multimedia and office programs. Having ‘only’ 1Gb of memory and a tiny hard-drive is not necessarily a handicap.

I’m currently working on a 2001 vintage Compaq laptop that used to have Windows 98 (!) on it. The hard-drive is a tiny 15Gb and there’s no wifi built in. There’s a CD player but no DVD player. The wifi issue is handled using a tiny USB dongle and I’m installing a flavour of Linux that will give it all the afore-mentioned software plus a Windows-like desktop.

The lack of a DVD is similarly handled (if you need a DVD player) using an external drive.

This is the type of laptop, rugged in construction, that could be left safely with young children or anyone who’s sole aim is to browse the web. It can do plenty more, of course.

One ongoing issue with older laptops is that the battery is usually pretty bad, so it’s primary use would require a mains supply.

If you have a redundant PC and would like some advice, please contact me.


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