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What to Do Before Disposing of an Old Laptop

Change is the only constant in the tech world, more specifically in the computer world.

The proliferation of new software and hardware capabilities means that to stay abreast of things, you have to get a new laptop every two to three years.

Consequently, you have to get rid of your old laptop. However, getting rid of an old laptop is not the safest thing these days. You can’t really just throw it away.

It’s not the wisest thing either.

In the wake of stringent legal requirements, data privacy issues, and environmental concerns, you must dispose of it safely.

Doing Computer Disposal the Right Way

Interestingly, computer disposal sits at the tail end of the hierarchy of things you can do with an old laptop.

Computer disposal means separation or disassembling of computer parts and raw materials. The process ends with the disposal of unwanted or unreusable parts into the waste bin.

Before you start doing that, you can try repairing, reusing, donating, or recycling an old laptop.

Salvaging an old laptop should be the first priority

There is a high possibility that some parts of the laptop are overtaken by technological advancement or are broken.

However, does this warrant the disposal of the entire device? Perhaps not.

Therefore, check the status of your laptop to pinpoint the parts that are faulty, including:

The Battery Pack

Has the battery pack not working well? Is it affordable to replace it? Most laptop batteries are unique to a specific model and can be expensive to replace.

In other critical cases, some battery models are out of the market, hence hard to find. For this reason, check the availability of your battery model online.

If it’s available, and affordable – of course, consider replacing the aging battery.

Alternatively, you can forego the battery and use the laptop without it. Sometimes, a faulty, end of life battery will even slow down the computer, so try taking it out and running the laptop on adapter power only.

RAM

Is lack of RAM the cause of your laptop malfunctions and slowdowns? RAM isn’t as fickle as other computer parts. For this reason, it should be easy to find a replacement.

Alternatively, if your 2GB RAM is slowing down your laptop, it’s time to consider upgrading the memory to a higher capacity, such as 8GB RAM. You will still have to check the type of RAM you have – DDR2, DDR3 or DDR4.

You must also be aware that older generations, like the DDR2 RAM memories, will cost more than newer gen now, as they are usually not readily available.

SSD/HDD

The hard drive plays a role in the overall device performance. Older laptops usually have only HDD drives, which are much slower than new SSD drives. If the hard drive is bogging down the laptop, replace it with a modern SSD drive with a higher capacity. 

Keyboard

Do you have issues with the laptop keyboard and some keys seem to hang or are unresponsive? Laptop keyboard problems emanate from bad hardware drivers, missing keys, wrong regional settings, or dirt and dust.

To mitigate these problems, update the keyboard drivers, and clean the laptop keyboard.

If these remedies aren’t sufficient, replace the faulty laptop keyboard.

Screen

A cracked or dying screen can send your laptop to its death bed. However, this should not be a reason to dispose of your device, unless the problem is unrepairable.

If you are having a problem with the laptop display and your screen going blank at times, the culprit could be the screen or the graphics card.

Give the device a full look-over and inspection to ensure the problem is the screen itself and not the graphics card.

Then, search Amazon, eBay, or Google to find the befitting LCD replacement. Primarily, use the laptops model number and the model of the faulty screen. Most regular screens are available online for as low as $50 to $80.

Operating Systems Issues

Does the laptop have a boot issue?

If yes, then, you can troubleshoot Windows boot problems with MSconfig. Additionally, the MSconfig utility will help you unearth problems springing from configuration or conflict issues.

Whatever the problem is, check to see if you can find the perfect remedy.

Moreover, check the suitability of the laptop’s operating system. Would it help to reinstall, refresh or upgrade the Windows operating system? A fresh OS install helps remove most issues, especially if the hardware seems to be working fine.

Preparing the Laptop for Disposal

If none of the above remedies can rescue your laptop, you’ll have no option other than preparing it for disposal. Here are some tips to follow to prepare the laptop for disposal.

Back-Up Your Documents and Data

The first and most important thing is to move your documents from the old laptop to the new device or to a flash drive. Besides, back up all personal files including movies, music, and pictures.

Also, you shouldn’t forget to store browser data (saved logins, bookmarks, extensions, and passwords), email, and program data.

Finally, trace all your registration keys and serial numbers and retrieve them before disposing of the laptop.

Wipe the Hard Drives

This is a quintessential point that demands special attention. In the wake of widespread cyberattacks, it would be a huge risk to leave personal information in your hard drives.

The best way to ensure no bit of information falls into the wrong hand is to wipe-clean the hard drives. Software likes Eraser, Wipe, Nuke or Boot can help you securely and comprehensively erase your hard drives for good.

Stripe Out Use Parts

Lastly, salvage the parts of your laptop that are still functional. You can get incredible value from these parts or use them for a DIY tech project.

You can convert the SSD/HDD drives of your old laptop into an external drive. All you need is a 2.5” USB case and your external drive will be ready to go.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt, the excitement of acquiring a new laptop can instigate thoughts about disposing of an old computer.

But, before you make an unprecedented move, consider following the compilation of the things to do before disposing of an old laptop.

While the above remedies offer a good starting point, there are a host of things you need to explore.

Heather Redding is a content manager for rent, hailing from Aurora. She loves to geek out writing about wearables, IoT and other hot tech trends. When she finds the time to detach from her keyboard, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.

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