Dear Lifehacker, I read your guide to what to do with my old computer parts, but I'm interested in your last suggestion: selling them and making some money! How can I offload these old parts — some of which are last gen, but others are really old (I'm talking IDE hard drives and AGP graphics cards) and make some cash in the process? Sincerely, Cleaning Out the Closet
Dear Cleaning Out the Closet,
I feel your pain: I have a pile of old computer equipment too, most of which is probably only valuable to people who really, really want them at this point. IDE hard drives? Sure, I have those. AGP graphics cards? Maybe one or two left lying around in case an old system fails. The trouble here is that because no one builds new systems with these parts anymore, your best efforts should be targeted towards finding the people who need them to repair the systems they use (and may have to keep for some reason). Here are some ways to find the right markets for your old gear.
Join a User Group or Computer Club
Local user groups and computer clubs used to be the primary way for like-minded tweakers and system builders to gather, discuss, trade parts and share knowledge. Many of those clubs are long gone, but some still exist online and retain their local roots. Search Google or Facebook for local computer clubs or user groups in your area. While you're searching, you may be able to find a local buy/sell/trade group that's worth looking into as well. Picture: Tobias Wolter/Flickr
Ideally, once you find a user group or computer club, you may be able to offer up your old components directly to an audience that may be able to make use of them. Similarly, many computer clubs still have shows and sales where you can take out a table if you're a member (sometimes for a small fee) and sell whatever you have available. Those shows have become much less popular in recent years, but if you have a lot of old computer parts you need to offload, it's an option worth investigating.
Sell to an Electronics Recycler or Reprocessor
Another solid option is to find a computer recycler or component reprocessing company that's willing to buy your old gear. How much you'll actually get back varies depending on the type of electronics you're trying to offload, but most of these recyclers and reprocessing companies are really interested in the valuable or rare-earth metals in your PC components. For that reason, you should take care to make sure the company you choose is not only willing to give you a decent price for your gear, but promises to do the recycling in-house and in an environmentally friendly manner. Do your homework, open the yellow pages and look around, or hit Google for local companies near you — not just big websites that promise to pay you more and send you boxes to ship your gear in.
Check With Your Local Hackerspace
Hackerspaces are another place where people often need or make use of old electronics. We've shown you how to find and get involved with nearby hackerspaces, but even if you're not a member, the space may be interested in your old electronics. In some cases, they're betting that their members are less interested in the actual devices you may have and more in their components. In other cases, your old equipment may be useful and compatible with machinery, diagnostic equipment or older gear that hackerspaces may have on-hand. Picture: Mitch Altman/Flickr
Many spaces have old equipment for which there are no upgrades available, or machinery that requires old software — running on old hardware — in order to function, so older equipment is worth keeping around. Call up your local hackerspace and see if they're willing to buy (or even take donations, which we'll get to later).
Check with Schools, Libraries and Local Governments
Schools, libraries and local governments are all usually willing to accept donations. You may have to jump through some legal or registration hoops in order to sell old equipment to a school or library, even if you have a garage full of stuff. Many schools, government offices and other organisations have old equipment or are using old software they can't afford to replace. They may be willing to shell out a few bucks for old PCs they can keep for parts to repair critical systems.
However, this probably isn't your best option. Like we mentioned, many schools and libraries have "approved vendor" lists that restrict where they can spend money, and if your old parts are that old, even schools and libraries won't want them because they're older than anything their students or patrons may benefit from using. Donations are a better option here because you can claim a tax deduction its market value later on.
Sell it on Gumtree or Donate It
They're not the options that you probably wanted to hear from the get-go, but eBay and Gumtree both have the most eyeballs of any of these options, even if most of those eyes aren't looking for your gear specifically. Like we mentioned in our complete guide to selling your old crap, an eye-catching photo and a well-crafted listing can net you big bucks.
If you have enough old components to build an actual PC, you can make much more money selling it as a complete system on Craigslist than you would selling it in parts on eBay. If you can, consider putting your old components together into a full computer and selling it that way. Not everyone wants or needs high-end components for their family PC, and you can make a tidy sum on a pre-built system with older components.
Finally, there's always the option of donating your old gear to a school, library or charity. You won't make any money this way, but you will get a tax deduction for your donation, and depending on how much you have to offload, it's easier and less hassle than trying to find somewhere to pay you a few bucks for your old IDE drives, SCSI adaptors or parallel port peripherals.
We hope that has given you a couple of options. Good luck!
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