top of page

What Should I Do With All My Old Laptops, Computers, and Electronics?

By Shad Loos 🔹

It is often suggested that you should destroy your old hard drives and take unused computers to an e-waste disposal location. This suggestion is wasteful, considering there are plenty of people who need a new computer but cannot afford one. Donating your old devices is a useful way to prevent them from collecting dust or ending up in a landfill.

Giving your old electronics to a qualified charity is also tax deductible. According to Computerswithcauses.org, “Business donors can deduct the un-depreciated value of the computer, and individuals can deduct the current market value of a computer.” This means a computer purchased for the price of $3,000, valued at $1,000 at the time of contribution, receives a $1,000 deduction on Schedule A.

How Do I Find a Place to Donate to?

There are several things you could try depending on what is available near you:

  1. https://www.computerswithcauses.org/

  2. Find a local nonprofit that gives to low-income students

  3. Facebook groups for donating

  4. Charities that collect computers

  5. Non-profit donation center

It is easy to find a donation center around you by googling “computer donation” and investigating the charities near you. For example, in the Bay Area, I found this resource on donation centers: https://www.globalstewards.org/donate-computers 

What Can Be Done to Securely Wipe My Information Without Any Technical Skill?

Of course, we want to make sure our personal and business information is deleted from the hard drives of our devices before it leaves our hands. Most services will wipe the data for you, but that does not provide the security that your data was untampered.

Deleting the data yourself is technical and requires additional software to fully delete the data from your hard drives. It’s important to wipe AND overwrite the data.

If you want to try this yourself, you can:

  1. Wipe the drive using CCleaner

  2. Use Dban: https://sourceforge.net/projects/dban/

  • Doesn’t work for SSDs

The ideal solution for the less technically inclined is to ask an IT person or the donation service to wipe and overwrite the data from the drives in front of you.

What if My Computer Is Too Old to Be Accepted as a Donation?

Sometimes, the electronics we have to donate are too old to be used by today's standards. It is a good thing you tried to donate your old computer, but what do you do with it now?

The next best option is to take it to an e-waste recycling location.

  1. For hassle-free recycling of old electronics, go to BestBuy. They have a dedicated free service for this and will disable your hard drive in front of you.

  2. See your local government website about e-waste disposal For example, in California: https://www2.calrecycle.ca.gov/electronics/eRecycle

  3. https://recyclenation.com/ Find the nearest location to responsibly recycle anything.

  4. Google “e-waste recycling” to find alternative places near you.

Summary

Donating your old electronics is an excellent idea, as they will be useful to someone else rather than being sent to a landfill. Giving your electronics to a qualified charity is also tax deductible, making it an even more appealing option than helping someone in need.

Deleting one's own data securely can be tricky for the average person, so I recommend taking your hard drive to a trusted IT person to help delete and overwrite your data before donating your devices.

It is not always possible to donate your computer if it is too old, though. The next best option is to bring it to an e-waste recycling location, such as BestBuy.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you found this article useful.


How Can Cove Help?

Cove members are encouraged to ask any questions about their businesses. In Cove, a private community for small business owners, you will find a wealth of shared experiences and valuable advice to guide you through these complex topics. There are similar learning opportunities to this article available within the community.


About the Author

Shad Loos co-founded Cove.eco, an online community for small business owners, in 2023. Shad has experience creating online communities and managing technology infrastructure.


Cove.eco Business Community - What Should I Do With My Old Computer

Comments


Commenting has been turned off.

How to File the BOI Report (BOIR)

This free mini-course provides the filing steps for US-based companies (including small businesses) that existed before January 1, 2024.

bottom of page