How To Prepare Your Computer For Reuse, Recycling, Or Donation

ttt-logoWe all need to take responsibility for disposing of our old computers properly. Instead of throwing out old electronics, please consider reusing, donating, or recycling them.

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.

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!

Caring For Your New Computer

How can you keep your new computer running as smoothly as it did when you took it out of the box?

The very first thing you should do is install a good security program. As I’ve mentioned, the freebies are no longer enough. You need a robust software suite that includes antivirus, anti-spyware and a firewall. See here for my antivirus recommendations for Windows and Mac.

Next, make sure your computer software is updated to the latest version. Even out of the box, there may be new updates available. For Windows computers, visit Mac users should run Software Updates under the Apple menu.

Windows users should strongly consider installing a browser other than Internet Explorer, such as Mozilla Firefox. You can still use Internet Explorer if you have to, but the alternate should be your default. This will help keep you safe from viruses and spyware.

While you’re setting up your new computer, configure backups at the same time. You can use an external hard drive (most come with automatic backup software) or choose an online option. See here for more information on backups.

Don’t forget to fill out the warranty card for your new computer. Should you buy the extended warranty? That’s up to you. Personally I don’t think it makes sense to spend a lot of money on a warranty for a computer that cost less than $500, but I’d want to protect a more expensive investment.

And, finally, have fun with your new computer!

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2010 Holiday Computer Gift Guide

Every year I share some fun and innovative computer gift ideas. Try some of these for the special people on your list.

  1. Apple iPad
    The iPad is one of this year’s top tech gifts, and it’s more than just a gimmick. The iPad is changing the way we use computers. With the power of the Internet plus the wide variety of apps available at the App Store, there’s very little you can’t do with an iPad.
  2. Speck Cases for iPads, iPhones, and Laptops
    Of course, once you get that iPad you’ll want to protect it. Speck makes great cases for iPads as well as for iPhones and both PC and Mac laptops.
  3. Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.0
    This software program for Windows and Mac lets you edit and organize your photos.
  4. Sid Meier’s Civilization V
    This turn-based strategy game for Windows and Mac is highly addictive (just ask my husband).
  5. USB Fridge
    Need a cold drink in a hurry? The USB Fridge plugs into your computer’s USB port and promises to chill a can of your favorite drink in minutes.

Happy Holidays to all of you!

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Are Netbooks Necessary?

Netbooks are small laptop computers. Some people like them because they are lightweight and inexpensive, while others disdain them for lack of speed and small keyboard and screen size. With so many laptops available, do we really need netbooks?

I believe netbooks have their place. Netbooks are great if you need an ultraportable computer, especially if it’s your secondary machine. You can let your primary computer do the heavy lifting and use the netbook for email and Web. Netbooks are also good choices for students and home users who only need the basics.

But if you are working with photos, graphics or video, netbooks don’t have the speed you need. They are also not so good as game machines. Netbooks usually offer the minimum for memory, hard drive, and processor. If you can only afford one computer, you’re better off spending a little extra for a laptop than investing in a netbook.

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Apple 27″ iMacs Delayed, And Fujitsu Laptop Battery Recall

If you’re planning to buy Apple’s 27″ iMac, you might be waiting a while for delivery. In a recent interview, Apple confirmed delays in shipping its popular new computer.

The shipping delays have been attributed to several things, including a shortage of components. Unconfirmed by Apple are reports of hardware problems. Online forums mention hard drive failures and flickering or damaged displays. If you have a 27″ iMac and want to check the display, visit this web site for an online test.

In other news, Fujitsu has recalled certain batteries for its Amilo line of laptops, including the Amilo Pa2510, Pi2512 and Pi2515 sold between April 2007 and June 2009. For more information, visit the Fujitsu web site.

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