Getting rid of an old computer may feel like tossing out a large investment. Even newer computers with large amounts of plastic and seemingly cheap components have high price tags. If you'd like to see the systems put to better use than being tossed onto a garbage pile, consider pulling out a few reusable components and their recyclable scrap.
Hard Drives Grant Extra Storage Or Valuable Magnets
If you're getting rid of an old computer, try to keep the hard drive if it isn't broken. Even if the system at large is failing or not turning on, there's a great chance that the drive can be recovered.
If the computer isn't turning on, it's likely a power failure. There could have been a power surge that destroyed all of the electronics inside, but it's quite unlikely; many people are able to put their hard drives into a new computer after a full power failure.
Viruses may be filling up the hard drive, but that doesn't end the hard drive's life, either. All you have to do is wipe the drive for a fresh start. If you'd like to do a little extra work to keep your old files in a new computer, run a virus scan on another computer or scan after getting your new computer up and running. A virus on a brand new computer isn't a big deal; since you haven't used it much, you can just reinstall the operating system to start again--this time with the viruses gone.
If the hard drive is physically broken or unreadable by other computers, take it apart. The hard drive casing is often made out of aluminum, which can be useful to the recycling process--especially if you're turning in multiple hard drives.
The rare earth magnets inside hard drives are the real points of recycling value. They're used to hold precision moving arms inside the drive, allowing quick movement and a long-lasting grip when compared to screws or adhesive.
Don't Get Your Hopes Up With Gold
There's a lot of excitement about scraping gold from computer motherboards, cards and other components. Unfortunately, the amount of gold is often overstated by technology amateurs. According to some experts, it takes thousands of boards to reach a worthwhile amount. Keep in mind that you may have to pay a processing fee if you don't scrap the small traces of gold off on your own.
There isn't even a whole troy ounce of gold on most boards, so unless you have a constantly growing collection of gold or specific gold needs for other projects, gold traces in computers are not a good place to focus your attention. There is, however, quite a few pieces of copper and aluminum that could be pulled with less effort.
If you need help with removing metals circuitry for recycling or would like to recycling specific components for cash, contact a scrap metal recycling professional.