Old computers can have a lot of life left, especially if the hardware is good. However, if the computer can’t run current antivirus or software updates, it’s not suitable for reuse. Many people assume that if they never connect the computer to a network, it will never become infected. But I have seen plenty of “offline” computers that became infected anyway. One quick little login or infected flash drive and it’s all over. Don’t say it won’t happen because it certainly can.
Today’s viruses are so aggressive, it’s not worth the risk to use old computers that can’t be adequately protected. See my Tech Tips article on ransomware to learn more about the increased risks posed by modern viruses.
Before donating your computer, either wipe the drive or reset it to factory defaults following the instructions on your manufacturer’s website. Microsoft and Apple have advice on how to prepare your computer for donation.
- What To Do Before Selling Or Giving Away Your Mac (via Apple)
- How to more safely dispose of computers and other devices (via Microsoft)
Although recycling is far better than throwing your computer in the garbage, the e-waste recycling industry itself has its downsides (see these articles by National Geographic here and here for examples). When recycling your equipment, ask the recycler for more information about where and how they recycle.
Check your local city, village, or county for information on local electronics recycling events. Some manufacturers and resellers also accept old computers for recycling.
Thanks for doing your part to help minimize the problem of electronics waste!