Tool of the Week: Getting Rid of Old Laptops

I'm on my third laptop since I got my first one 10 years ago.  Being the kind of guy who holds onto things way too long, and isn't always on the cutting edge of consumerism, I assume this is slightly lower than the national average.  But the time comes when your laptop kicks the bucket and you have to get a new one.

Getting rid of the old one can be a pain.  Most electronics recycling centers charge $20 to $50 dollars to recycle your laptop, and throwing it away just feels wasteful.  Plus, you might be worried about the security of the data on your old machine, or have things on there you might want someday.  So you put the laptop in a drawer or closet until you do spring cleaning a few years later, and decide you must get rid of it.

Here's my method for getting rid of old laptops while keeping the valuable (?) data on the hard-drive secure and avoiding recycling fees:

  1. Remove the old hard-drive.  This varies from model to model but usually requires a small philips head screw-driver.  The hard drive usually slides out fairly easily.  This way you can keep all that data that you want safe when you get rid of the old laptop.  Make sure you just have the hard drive, and not the tray that belongs with the laptop.
  2. Post the Old Laptop on eBay.  This is a fairly easy process.  Be sure to check on shipping costs, and describe your laptop accurately.  Make sure you include the fact that you've removed the hard drive.

    From my experience, the more original accessories (Case, Power adapter, cables, even CDs) you have with the laptop, the better.  I've sold laptops for anywhere between $0.99 and $200 depending on the condition and age of the computer.After posting, pack up the laptop well and wait for it to sell, then drop it off at the post office!  Even if you only sell the laptop for $0.99 cents, you've saved yourself a recycling fee!

  3. Buy an SATA-USB enclosure for your hard drive.  Measure the hard drive you removed. Most laptops have 2.5" hard drives (2.75" wide).  You can purchase a USB enclosure for your hard drive online.  I've used this one before, its very cheep ($6 wish shipping), but works just fine.When the enclosure arrives, follow the instructions to install the hard drive (this is super easy), and plug the usb cables into your computer. Wallah! you now have a small, portable external hard-drive with all your old files on it.

    You may want to transfer the files and then reformat the hard-drive to remove un-needed operating system files and reduce the risk of infecting your new computer with a virus.

And there you have it. I hope that helps you clean out your pile of stuff that you're hanging on to but should get rid of, just a bit. Does anybody else have any other tips for getting rid of old electronics?

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  • Nice one

  • http://www.gazelle.com will offer you money for old laptops, or at least send you a mailing packet if its not worth anything. And they will dispose of un-sellable items responsibly.

    Rather than messing with removing the hard disk, you can also securely wipe the entire drive. E.g. with http://www.dban.org/ or one of the methods in this post:
    http://gizmodo.com/5489933/leave-no-trace-how-to-completely-erase-your-hard-drives-ssds-and-thumb-drives

    • Thanks for the Tip Stan, and i'm Honored to have such a distinguished commenter 🙂

      I checked out gazelle, seems like a great site. They offer a bit less than I've gotten on eBay, but it also seems like it's hassle free. Also, a great tip on clearing the hard drive! It's worth it to wipe the drive and get rid of it with the laptop if you don't want anything on there and you don't want an old harddrive just sitting around.

      (P.s. the picture of you working on an old Apple computer is an inspiration... for my next haircut. I never saw pictures from your utah adventures i don't think... are they anywhere?)

  • Yup, this guy is legit. I'm a believer 🙂