Getting Rid of Old IT Equipment

We got a letter from our electricity provider recently to say our bill was going up from 38 to 50 pounds a month.  The week after I bought a ReadyNAS Duo to replace the five-year-old Dell PowerEdge server that's been sitting burning electricity in the cellar.

Although the PowerEdge started out as an Active Directory PDC, DNS server and the main Notes server time's have changed and it's now redundant. All it did in the end was act as a file server and spent 99.9% of its time doing nothing at all. The ReadyNas now does the file sharing while burning a lot of less power, offering RAID backup and has oodles more space (1.5TB!).

My never-ending quest for the ideal SOHO IT setup continues. As I do this it's inevitable that a pile of old kit would mount up. Here's mine:


As well as the PowerEdge there are two working IBM servers, a Dell Inspiron laptop (low-spec but works) and an IBM ThinkPad T42 (spare parts only). There's also quite a few old routers and other bits of kit I don't need.

I've put it all in the corner of the office to force me in to doing something with it other than hiding it all in cupboards or the cellar.

Having looked on eBay I can see I won't get much (if anything) for any of it. What I'd like to do is give it to a good home. Somebody who is in the same position I was in years ago and needs a server to put LAMP on to learn web development. All three servers are perfectly capable of running a small home web development server.

What I don't want to do is give it to some Freecycle lurker who would simply pedal it on at next Sunday's car boot. Ideally I want to give it to a charity who I think might make good use of it. Anybody know how I go about doing that?


  1. Jake,

    We've had the same dilemma - but it all goes in the skip now*. Why? For the same reason you've quoted - power costs. Electric costs now account for the vast majority of any running costs of a server. It really is cheaper to buy new, power lean servers and run them - rather than keep using old kit.

    Even the charity that Kitty works for is now doing the same, hence the low price on ebay. I guess it's also saving the environment too in a wierd kind of way.


    * By which I mean it's all WEEE compliantly disposed of, of course.

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Thu 3 Dec 2009 05:33 AM

      Hi Warren.

      How would one go about disposing of it in a WEEE way?

    • avatar
    • patrick_L
    • Thu 3 Dec 2009 05:49 AM

    If you dispose of it properly it is likely to get sent to China in all the containers that would otherwise go back empty, then stripped and melted down and turned into new gadgets for us to play with...

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Thu 3 Dec 2009 05:52 AM

      So, best to remove/destroy HDDs and find a WEEE disposal site?

    • avatar
    • Sam
    • Thu 3 Dec 2009 06:55 AM

    Jake, I'm learning LAMP development myself and would love to take a server and laptop off your hands. Drop me an email and we can work out the details. Thanks!

    • avatar
    • Jon
    • Thu 3 Dec 2009 07:05 AM

    Have you thought about your local primary schools, they are always on the lookout for IT equipment.

    • avatar
    • Mike
    • Thu 3 Dec 2009 08:07 AM

    I am also in the market for a couple of development servers to build, rebuild, etc.

    Drop me an e,ail and maybe we can take the IBM's off your hands

  2. Working equipment I'm sure you'll find eager hands for. I usually sell it cheap to HS students making their first stabs at understanding PC's and OS's and thell them the best way to learn is to tear it apart, clean it, put it back together and put something non-windows on it. We have local computer hardware recycling once a year or so for anything that is really useless.

    But - even non-working bits have more life to them. I've seen examples of sculptures made completely out of old computer cables. There's a world of electronic learning and DIY education to be had tearing old CD and HD drives apart. Not to mention all the fabulous little bits you find inside... like the rare earth magnets that are strong enough to hurt you found in every hard drive. Or the high precision air craft aluminum rings used as spacers between hard drive platters. Then there's the laser diodes in your old CD ROM drive and on and on.

    So I've taken to selling what I can, recycling what I can't and tearing down what looks promising. It's made for a nice stash of very interesting tidbits in a shoe box on my work bench. Plus I have a good stash of mild steel and aluminum if I ever get a shop smelter built to do my own castings.

    Obviously, mileage will vary as pertains to your interests and abilities.

  3. Jake,

    We have donated a lot of our old equipment to women shelters, churches and non-for-profit organizations who provide the equipment to low-income areas and community centers. Just call them and you be surprise that they will take anything even it is very old. We are in the process of eliminating all our 17-inch CRTs and will be donating them to a low income day care run by a church here in the Chicagoland area.

  4. I would love to have one to play with, possibly run as a remote backup server. But there are two primary reasons that I can't.

    1) New baby coming and he has taken my office. I'm working from

    the kitchen table nowadays. :)

    2) Momma (wife) says no to any more equipment, so I've setup a

    virtual machine on my laptop and it works pretty well for my needs

    in development and testing.

    Funny in cleaning out the old office last week I found tons of stuff (printers, fax machines, HDD, memory), stuff I didn't remember collecting, that I had to get rid of too. Fortunately I know a few young guys from the gym that like playing with computers that wanted most of it. So I didn't even have to drive it to a recycling center.

    I started laughing last week, I put a few large metal cabinets in the garage for cleaning out my office and one has nothing but networking tools, a few misc parts, things like that-that I use often. I thought about you and how it must have been with your additions that pushed you out of the house, I'm in the same boat. Started thinking this must happen to all IT guys at one time or another.

    1. Yeah - kids have a way of doing that. I got pushed out of a bedroom so I finished part of the basement as a common area, but took over the nice corner for my transient office... eventually have plans to add on and put the official never-to-be-moved-again office over the garage.... lots of money between here and there though.

    • avatar
    • Boyzl
    • Thu 3 Dec 2009 11:43 PM

    Ha! I never have problems of getting rid of old IT tech and neither have my friends - I collect it :-)

    You better find some friend like me too, and you're gonna never have problems again ;-)

    When my virtual museum will be back online i'll let you know.

    • avatar
    • David Wall
    • Mon 7 Dec 2009 05:52 AM

    Surely this prompts a rework of the network diagram and naming articles?

    • avatar
    • stu
    • Tue 8 Dec 2009 12:08 PM

    why don't you look at producing your own power... wind, solar or you could build something in your spring that runs at the bottom of the garden...


  5. Not an answer to your question, but I do want to remind that if you have a file server or something else that has a lot of idle CPU, please consider the http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/ app that IBM hosts. It uses a percentage of the CPU idle time to help the world.

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