The dilemma with old hardware

I’m sure may people who have an interest in computing have a collection of hardware similar to this.

stack of old computer hardware

so many good clock cycles here

I’m also sure that any respective wife / partner / flat mate will have told them more than once to clear out “that old junk”.  To us it’s not old junk, its memories of Doom on a Pentium 2 or getting online with an external 3com 33kbps modem.

Time moves on, and it appears to move fastest in the world of computing.  However given a sizable collection of disused and donated hardware it’s possible to make a perfectly good light use web / email PC for somebody in need of a basic computer.

From my collection I created a perfectly usable light usage PC

  • mATX AMD K7VM4 motherboard
  • AMD xp1700+ CPU
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • GeForce2 AGP graphics
  • Onboard sound
  • 80GB Western Digital IDE hard disk
  • DVD / CD-RW drive IDE

Of course some hardware is beyond practical use, an old AMD-K6-2 runs at 500Mhz, it has less power than my wifes phone.  Equally the machine it came out of runs on an old, inefficient power supply and supports bus technology which simply isn’t practical anymore.

So what to do then?  In the UK and Europe you’re not simply allowed to bin old computer parts.  The WEEE Directive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waste_Electrical_and_Electronic_Equipment_Directive) covers all parts of recycling for electrical goods, including computers.

If you bought the computer item from a commercial retailer they must provide you with information on how to safely dispose of the electrical item.  In addition they must provide a free scheme where you can swap old hardware.  There are many caveats to this scheme and the retailer may well only accept equipment they sold or accept whole PCs, but it does apply to online retailers who sell computer equipment.

In reality I’ve found that your local council recycling centre will accept empty computer cases as scrap metal and have special sections for computers and monitors.  You can check online directly to see what your local centre accepts here http://www.valpak.co.uk/dts/page1734.aspx or check out your local council details http://www.recycle-more.co.uk/la/la_detailsla.aspx

As business must now pay to have electronics recycled a downside is that many charities are no longer interested in old hardware as it will cost them to dispose of it if its truly useless.  Other businesses will often no longer give away perfectly good hardware because it has reached its accounting lifespan as they may be liable to cover the recycling costs if they give it away.

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