How to Properly Dispose of a Laptop

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If you have a pile of laptops sitting around your house, you probably are starting to wonder what to do with them. The average laptop doesn’t last all that long and most of us have some old bricks shoved into closets, under our beds, and even in attics.

The truth is that your laptop might actually be worth something if it still works. If it doesn’t, it isn’t worth the space it takes up. If you need to dispose of your laptop by either selling it or throwing it away, there are a few things you have to do first. It is relatively simple, but it is imperative to keep your privacy.

Back It Up

Many of us don’t even think about backing up anymore because the Cloud does it for us. However, backing your files up to a physical source is so necessary, especially if you have some things on your laptop that really mean a lot to you. Grab yourself a large external hard drive (you can get them for under $100 on Amazon) and back up everything you can – including photos, videos, and even old school papers.

De-Authorize Everything

This is another step that people forget. If you pay for something, de-authorize it on that computer you are getting rid of. Some of the common culprits include iTunes, Photoshop, Adobe Creative Suite, and Microsoft Office. Doing this will allow you to re-authorize the programs on a different computer. If you have passwords saves, credit card information, and other add-ons to your browser, make sure to de-authorize those as well. It won’t be enough to just delete the old files because they will still exist in some form.


The final step is to reset your computer. Each model goes about this in a different way, so you should consult your owner’s manual if you still have it. If you don’t, a quick Google search from another device should be able to help you figure it out.

If You Are Going to Sell

If you were able to get your machine back to the original state, you are now free to sell it. Make sure to be honest about what is wrong with the computer and the shortcomings that it may have. Depending on the device, you can trade it in for other options. Try contacting Amazon if you aren’t comfortable using eBay or Craigslist to list your items, but know you might not get quite as much money for it.

Sometimes Apple will even buy back a laptop or tablet, but they only pay in gift cards, so it isn’t worth it unless you are saving up to purchase a new phone, computer, or tablet.

If you aren’t pressed for time, consider shopping around a little bit. With some searching, you’ll be able to find which websites will give you the most money for your device. Remember that places like Amazon and Apple will clean your computer as well, adding another layer of protection that simply selling it to the guy down the street off of Craiglist won’t do.


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If your laptop cannot be saved or you can’t even turn it on to do the factory wipe, the only thing you can really do is recycle it. This will ensure that it gets destroyed and no one can get your information, or so we hope. There is always still a chance there. Some people will try to destroy their own computer and then scatter it through the trash. However, that isn’t a good idea because, according to the EPA, “recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 U.S. homes in a year.” Not only that, but it harms all parts of the earth and can be dangerous for people working within the trash companies.

Most townships and cities have local recycling facilities where you can recycle any technology easily. Certain stores like Best Buy will have laptop recycling events as well. Ask around and you will find somewhere that will take the laptops off your hands and properly dispose of them.

No matter what, make sure that you keep safety in the front of your mind when you dispose of that old laptop.


How to Properly Dispose of a Laptop

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