Help Me Laptop: How Do I Get Rid of My Old PC?

There comes a day when every electronic device becomes too old, too slow or too unusable to keep around for its original purpose. Sure, you can keep it around as collectible clutter, or try to re-use it, but sometimes it just needs to go to the big Best Buy in the sky.

Reader enache.andrei43 wrote on our forums that they have an old Acer laptop with an Intel Atom N450 processor and 1GB of RAM. It has a VGA port but no HDMI, so they can’t hook it up to their TV. Originally, they hoped to reuse it somehow, but other readers have already told them the stark truth: it’s time to let this one go.

So, the question is now, how does one get rid of a laptop?

Well, just because it’s too old for you that doesn’t mean it’s too old for everyone, so we’ll explore donating. If you choose to get rid of it altogether, don’t just dump it in the trash; electronics should be properly recycled.

But before you do anything, wipe your laptop, or, if you’re junking it, go a step further and destroy your hard drive. You don’t want anyone getting their hands on all of your data.


The specs on enache’s notebook are outdated, but it could still be useful to someone. Your local Goodwill, for example, will likely take an old computer off your hands if it still works, and they’ll give you a receipt for your charitable donations for your taxes. However, Goodwill considers electronics as “specialty items” so give yours a call before bringing it in.

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Your area may have local organizations in need of computers, so try contacting local libraries, children's’ organizations, schools or shelters to see if they have a use for an old machine.

If you do go this route, keep all of the accessories together. The computer won’t be of any use to anyone if it doesn't include a charger.


Electronics, including laptops, use materials that can be harmful to the environment, so you shouldn’t just dump yours in the trash and let its chemicals seep into the local water supply. Additionally, some of the metals and plastics can be used again, meaning that fewer of them will need to be manufactured again, which would require a ton of energy and mining for new materials.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling one million laptops can save the energy equivalent to the amount of electricity used by over 3,500 US homes in a year.

And it ends up that recycling a laptop is really easy to do. First, check with your city or township and see if its recycling center accepts computers. Alternatively, most big box electronics stores, like Best Buy and Apple Stores will accept your computers (depending on your state, there may be a fee).

There are also online recycling programs. Apple, for instance, has a program you set up online that will let you recycle both Macs and PCs (along with most Apple products) in partnership with recycling companies. Depending on your laptop’s age and condition, you may even get a gift card for it. Then you get a prepaid mailing label, ship it off and it gets recycled.

Credit: Laptop Mag