Getting rid of an old or broken computer can be like throwing hundreds of dollars out onto the street. There are a lot of valuable parts, either for reuse and repair or through the recycling system. Before putting the old computer on the curb, consider recovering a few parts that may be worth your time.
Memory Modules Are Sturdy
Memory modules (also known as random access memory or RAM) are used to make your computer faster by offering a faster area for fetching commonly used files. Instead of searching a large, potentially slow hard drive for the same information hundreds of times per second, the memory holds these common files for whenever the processor needs the information.
The modules resemble small, rectangular chips and are among the sturdiest of the computer parts. Although it's not wise to leave electronics and sensitive computer parts lying around, many experienced computer technicians have old, working memory modules simply sitting around in drawers and cabinets.
You can save the memory to use in a new computer. With more memory, your next computer could become even faster or be less susceptible to slowing down when more programs (or more powerful programs) are added to the system.
The one downside to saving memory is that different generations are not compatible with each other. To prevent accidental generation mismatch, there is a physical notch in the memory module and a peg in the module's installation bay that must match up.
Old memory modules can be recycled just as any other type of electronics, and it is encouraged in order to keep electronic waste (e-waste) low.
The Hard Drive Has Valuable Materials
Hard drives can be recycled as well, and are more easily swapped between different computer generations than memory modules are. The two main standards of consumer computer hard drives involve two connections: Serial ATA (L-shaped) and Parallel ATA (rectangle bar). The two standards are interchangeable with adapters, and the main difference is transfer speed.
You can easily add your old hard drive to a new computer to access your old files. You could also format (erase or wipe) the hard drive to keep it as a bit of extra storage that doesn't affect the computer's performance with the main hard drive's higher speed.
Hard drives have a more finite life cycle than components such as memory because of the wear and tear that takes place. If your hard drive is scratched or worn out beyond use value, you can take it apart for the recyclable materials.
The casing is made out of aluminum, and there are often gold or platinum layers of plating on the platters inside hard drives. Another unique recyclable material is the group of rare earth magnets used to hold certain small parts together. These magnets have their own recycling market demand with hobbyists as well as the general recycling system.
Contact a curbside recycling professional to arrange for pickup of materials you don't want to keep from your old computer to ensure that it arrives at a recycling center like Industrial Services Inc.