Dispose of Old Computers

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

I plan to replace all my office computers when Microsoft comes out with its new Vista operating system and Office suite this year. Do you have any suggestions about how I can get rid of my old computers? In the past I tried selling them, but I only got a few takers.

It’s become a vexing problem. Some landfill operators won’t even accept computers because they contain toxic chemicals. I have two suggestions: If they still work, consider donating them to worthy causes and take a tax deduction. Local schools and community centers often are delighted to get computers in working order. Or give them to the National Cristina Foundation ( www.cristina.org ), which provides donated computers to needy nonprofits.

If the computers are dead, you might be able to return them to the manufacturer, which can salvage some parts by recycling. Dell Computer ( www.dell.com/recycle ), Apple Computer ( http://www.apple.com/environment/recycling/ ) and Hewlett-Packard ( www.hp.com/environment ) will be happy to take them. They won’t pay you, but at least they’ll take them off your hands.

Caveat: Before you dispose of them be sure to fully destroy any data on the hard disks. Ordinary erasing won’t do the trick. There are many free programs that securely delete data. To find one, do a Google search on secure file deletion.

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