Author Topic: What can I do with old laptops?  (Read 7257 times)

El Gringo

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What can I do with old laptops?
« on: March 04, 2015, 05:33:53 PM »
I have several old laptops that are so old, even the various cash-for-laptop websites don't want them (two Dell Latitude D600 laptops and one IBM Thinkpad R50) . 1) Is there any other suggestions for getting any money out of them? 2) Any way I can make this educational? Any body know of any good tutorials for taking a computer apart to learn about the different parts?

Otherwise, I'll just recycle them.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 05:57:13 PM by El Gringo »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2015, 06:47:53 AM »
Most parts are probably of limited to no value, but old x86 processors are relatively liquid and can sell on ebay for $30-$200 or so depending on the model. I recently sold an old x86 processor on ebay for ~$120.

I don't know why there is a market for old used processors, but there is.

These are so old I would be highly surprised if there's any value in the CPU. The Thinkpad *might* have value on eBay, as those things are tanks. If it was a bit newer I'd be interested myself - throw a lightweight Linux distro on there and it's quite usable, but alas that's a bit too far gone even for me.

The RAM sticks *might* have value. I'd check eBay, as sometimes there are folks still needing ancient RAM like that.

But donating to a school might be your only non-recycling option.

zurich78

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2015, 07:49:29 AM »
I doubt even a school would want a laptop that old becaise it won't run any of their software, etc.  i had some too and I ripped the hard drive out and had the rest recycled.  There are fairly regular free e-waste events around my area so maybe look in to that.

FarmerPete

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2015, 08:45:23 AM »
Probably not worth it.  My experience has been that schools aren't typically interested in anything, regardless of age, in such small quantities.  You might be able to donate it to a computer repair class or something.  My guess is that you could probably sell the laptops as a whole unit for more profit than the processor and ram.  If it was me, I'd install Linux on it and mess around with stuff like that.  With XP being end of life, it's unlikely that many would want it with XP running on it.

MoneyCat

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2015, 08:51:09 AM »
I had some ancient computer equipment that wouldn't sell on eBay and I just took it to Best Buy to be recycled for free.  I'm not sure if they are still running that program.

El Gringo

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2015, 08:58:31 AM »
Ok, thanks guys! I suppose I'll just recycle them then.

TreeTired

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2015, 09:04:54 AM »
I have an old Gateway laptop that stopped working.    I took it apart in a failed attempt to repair it.    I was at least able to access the hard drive and move files to a working computer.   Now I have this mess of old laptop parts in a pile by my desk.  I am not really supposed to throw it in the trash am I ?   (saving the hard drive)     I guess I can check with our recycle center to see if they will take the pieces.   

infogoon

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2015, 09:06:47 AM »
You could always pull out the hard drives and stick them in external enclosures; they're nice to have for transporting files or keeping a backup of your data in another location.

lise

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2015, 09:09:10 AM »
I had some ancient computer equipment that wouldn't sell on eBay and I just took it to Best Buy to be recycled for free.  I'm not sure if they are still running that program.

I took ancient laptop to best buy 2 months ago - program is still running - just check your store location online to see if they accept.  I actually found it through my local city council website for where recycled electronics are accepted. 

GizmoTX

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2015, 09:31:50 AM »
We have a pre-Intel MacBookPro in the kitchen for recipes, browsing, & music with external speakers.

dunhamjr

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2015, 10:09:30 AM »
if you were techy there are a few things you could do on them, like setting them up as a firewall, router, ftp server... etc.

taking them apart could be educational, i dont have any DIY's to point you to.

i just end up recycling my old equipment.

you could also check on ebay to see if anyone is buying them for parts.  you never know what someone will buy.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2015, 10:10:12 AM »
I've heard that there are people that collect old Apples.  They are worth a ton not for computer use but as "antiques."  I know someone that collects them and has them displayed on shelves.  I don't think PC's have the same collectors value but I could be wrong.

jmusic

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2015, 12:08:48 PM »
You could always pull out the hard drives and stick them in external enclosures; they're nice to have for transporting files or keeping a backup of your data in another location.

I took the hard drive out of my wife's ancient laptop that she still had, an old Compaq from circa 1999.  It was only 12GB and I was absolutely SHOCKED at how loud it was.  I could either get an external enclosure, or a 16GB USB3 thumb drive for the same money. 

Once I got the data off, a few whacks with the hammer put it out of its misery.

laka

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2015, 12:44:31 PM »
I'm running a variety of old laptops at my house. Our needs are pretty basic there - web browsing, YNAB, photo and music storage, and Minecraft.  When one hits a bump (battery craps out, keyboard breaks, needs a new hard drive, etc.) I get online and figure out how to DIY fix it.  Parts are cheap, and since we've got a couple in rotation there's no big hurry. That's been the educational value for me.  I've got Ubuntu installed on one (the one that needed a new hard drive and I couldn't find the windows installation materials for it), and I'm really enjoying learning about the various software options.  Again, our needs are pretty minimal, but it's been an inexpensive way to maintain computers and learn about them as well.

AH013

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2015, 01:00:14 PM »
With those specs I'd suggest installing a Linux distribution, OpenOffice / LibreOffice, and some other basic essentials on the computer to make it capable of basic email, internet browsing, office productivity, and photo viewing / media playing.  On Craigslist around where I am, a laptop of any sort that's capable of these functions for is worth a minimum of $40 to someone who needs a low end machine.

teacherwithamustache

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2015, 02:45:54 PM »
option 1

Fill with concrete and use as a boat anchor (no really I have an old desktop that I use for an anchor)

Option 2

Target practice.  How many shots with a pellet gun is it going to take to make the computer shut down?  Go to a gun range and set up a raffle.  Make the computer shut down and you win an Ipad, Only $5 a shot.  Give everyone 1 shot with a pellet gun.  You can also start a Calcutta on how many shots it is going to take and give them a prize.

El Gringo

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2015, 01:29:29 PM »
With those specs I'd suggest installing a Linux distribution, OpenOffice / LibreOffice, and some other basic essentials on the computer to make it capable of basic email, internet browsing, office productivity, and photo viewing / media playing.  On Craigslist around where I am, a laptop of any sort that's capable of these functions for is worth a minimum of $40 to someone who needs a low end machine.

Is there a specific Linux distribution you would recommend for an old laptop like these? I haven't used Linux before, but would be interested in playing around with it.

El Gringo

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2015, 01:38:39 PM »
Also, I just discovered that one of the laptops doesn't even start up. Any idea how I can clear the data from it before I get rid of it?

Cathy

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2015, 02:47:13 PM »
Also, I just discovered that one of the laptops doesn't even start up. Any idea how I can clear the data from it before I get rid of it?

That depends where you think data might be stored.

The RAM should not retain any data after the computer is turned off, so you probably don't need to worry about that.

As for the hard drive or flash storage that may be present, you may want to remove those and physically destroy them. If you aren't up for physical destruction, connect the devices over SATA to another computer and issue the ATA SECURE ERASE command to the devices. If you don't have a free SATA controller anywhere, the next best thing is that you could connect it over a USB interface and write random data over the drive.

Physical destruction of hard drives and flash storage is the only 100% safe way to ensure they are erased (especially for an SSD) because the drive firmware implementing ATA SECURE ERASE could have bugs that may cause data to be retained. If you don't require 100% safety, go with one of the other approaches mentioned, which are still very safe. Personally, I use ATA SECURE ERASE followed by physical destruction.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2015, 02:51:28 PM by Cathy »

LiveLean

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2015, 05:52:17 PM »
Electronics recycling, though I've saved my first "laptop," and I use that term loosely since the Radio Shack TRS 80, used by 1980s-early 1990s sportswriters and semi-affectionately referred to as the "Trash 80," was little more than a glorified calculator/typewriter that had a four-line display and could hold only about 3,000 words of text before you had to delete stuff to make room.

I take it when I speak to journalism classes, talking about what laptops/journalism was like back in the stone age of 1990 and, indeed, the students pass the thing around like I've brought it someone thousands of years old.

Paul der Krake

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2015, 06:06:56 PM »
With those specs I'd suggest installing a Linux distribution, OpenOffice / LibreOffice, and some other basic essentials on the computer to make it capable of basic email, internet browsing, office productivity, and photo viewing / media playing.  On Craigslist around where I am, a laptop of any sort that's capable of these functions for is worth a minimum of $40 to someone who needs a low end machine.

Is there a specific Linux distribution you would recommend for an old laptop like these? I haven't used Linux before, but would be interested in playing around with it.
Give Xubuntu a try. It's a good compromise between being light enough for older hardware and not having to become a power user just to get your email.

anon-e-mouse

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Re: What can I do with old laptops?
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2015, 06:08:44 PM »
Donate them.
You can find several different types of places to take them and you'll get a nice tax write off.

I donate lots of different types of things to a local Salvation Army type place.
Schools don't like old gear, Homeless shelters might.

If you're a crafty nerd, you'd convert the laptops to be something unique.
Install Linux on them and sell them as a way to teach a new operating system.
If they have two NICs (one internal and one add-on maybe) then you can install open source Gateway tools.
Turn one into a home iTunes server or Media server?  (Plex?)

I used to geek out and try to keep all sorts of old computer gear around.  I'm over that stage now since we're storing less junk.