View Full Version : Little computer question

02-10-2016, 01:14 PM
I have a desk top that I am getting rid of. Just got a fast laptop and I don't need 2 computers. I will delete all files, programs, etc before giving it to a computer shop to salvage or whatever... nobody will buy them any more.

But that got me to thinking... is there anything IN the computer of practical use? Can I rip it apart and use something out of it?

02-10-2016, 01:26 PM
There are some strong magnets in the hard drive, the power supply case has been said to be good for using as a case for a PID unit. There is also a laser in the CD/DVD drive. Other useful parts depend on your skills/needs.

02-10-2016, 01:38 PM
Depends how old it is. If it's old enough, the RAM and CPU won't be compatible with anything new, and therefore would only be useful as replacement parts for other very old computers. In general, with the relatively low cost of new computers these days, it's not usually worth the cost to fix a really old computer.

Any optical drive or hard drive is probably at least still usable in many new desktop computers. Even if your old hard drive is low-capacity, it could be useful as something like a drive to write system backups to, or a redundant drive for your most precious files (we all know that mechanical drives fail all-too-often).

I have a bunch of old computer hardware that I've accumulated over the last 15+ years. Once in a blue moon, someone will need a part and I'll go to my collection and save the day, but considering how much space it all takes up, and how infrequently that happens, I'm beginning to think I just need to junk the whole collection.

02-10-2016, 01:45 PM
I forgot to mention - if you have access to a private range, you can do some fun experiments. Hard drive platters, for instance, will stop a 22LR easily but a factory 223 goes through them like a hot knife through butter (did this with a bad drive a few years ago).

02-10-2016, 01:49 PM
Smash or shoot the hard drive.

02-10-2016, 01:51 PM
The drive platters can be used to reclaim platinum but the few in one drive won't be worth it. Be sure to run a disk shredder utility on it before giving it away. Disks can be recovered even after being completely overwritten 7 times. That means there is a possibility some one could get your personal data off of it. Might be easier to take the drive out and shatter the platters with a hammer.

Best use might be to find a kid that wants to learn IT related topics and donate it so they can run linux or some other OS.

02-10-2016, 02:02 PM
Yeah I am not looking to re-use it in a computer related way... Not interested. I might take it apart just for the magnets in the hard drive. The laser is interesting but not sure how I could use it.

02-10-2016, 02:20 PM
There are some useful parts, and some gold in your PC but not sure if you'll get a better use of the parts you harvest rather than donate the computer and a needy family is able to get it and use it.

Some of the notable parts are:

Gold (very very hard to harvest)
Cd/DVD laser focus lens (makes a great macro lens for smart phones)

If you want to go the donation route there are tons of good causes to donate to, but best bet is to call a school and have them give it to a needy student. If you are worried about your data there are two options. The first is to remove the hard drive (HDD) completely, this will mean all your data stays with you. Your next option, and this is the option I use often, is to completely erase and rewrite the HDD. Traditionally the HDDs when "erased" will retain ALL the data, what you are erasing is basically the table of content that tells the drive where to look for the data, a skilled person can restore this table and access all the data. What you will want to do is rewrite all the sectors then erase the HDD, this sound hard but it's super ease. Download a program called DBAN, it's free and time tested. You'll need to burn the ISO to a cd before use. There are TONs of walkthroughs online for this program, if you can read you can use it, it's really that simple.

02-10-2016, 03:41 PM
Thanks Aquaman...;) I think that is route I will go. Let somebody use it that can use it. It's only about 4 or 5 years old so it's not a dinosaur. A school kid would certainly find it usable. Sounds like harvesting anything would be a bigger pain than it's worth.

02-10-2016, 03:59 PM
I use the power supplies from old desktops as PID controller cases.

They usually already have a fan, power input and sometimes even output. Dremel a slot for the controller, mount the SSR and wire it up!

02-10-2016, 04:47 PM
If you have any interest in getting away from Windows you could install a free Linux system on it and see if you like it.

02-10-2016, 07:40 PM
Why would you open that old thing up and risk catching one of the viruses in it?

02-10-2016, 07:54 PM
I've tried to give them to school kids, they don't want old stuff. Best to go to the local recycler and scrap them, dis-asembled brings more $ - you sort, they don't have to.

02-10-2016, 11:20 PM
You could easily turn it into a home cloud or dedicated media server for your house...I turned my wifes old desktop into a media server when she got her new laptop a couple years ago.

02-11-2016, 12:19 AM
I've tried to give them to school kids, they don't want old stuff. Best to go to the local recycler and scrap them, dis-asembled brings more $ - you sort, they don't have to.

Not around here!! If you're willing to donate it, try your local "Boys & Girls Club" or Salvation Army Thrift Shop. Before she retired, my wife was CFO for a large not-for-profit and now does volunteer work for a couple local children's agencies. What Markbo wants to get rid of ("four or five years old") is newer than some of their office computers...let alone what they've got for the use of the kids.


02-11-2016, 12:30 AM
Yeah its a nice small desktop with good memory and fast processor. Its not an old junker. Ill find a good use.for it

02-11-2016, 01:22 AM
Smash or shoot the hard drive.

+1! Deleting only changes the first character of the filename to something the operating system has been instructed to ignore. Any undelete program is capable of restoring your files.

Deleting the partition(s) is only a block to the unknowledgeable. A good forensic hacker or scientist can recover the files even after deleting the partition. Mechanically destroying or keeping the hard drive securely are the only ways to keep your data secure. Rifle is good. Shotgun at close range is way better.


02-11-2016, 01:46 AM
You don't have to physically destroy the hard drive an over write program will replace all the deleted files with overwritten gibberish, it takes a serious amount of computing power to recover once the files have been overwritten if they can be recovered at all. I use one called WipeFile to make things I delete unrecoverable. Wipefile will do a single pass zero fill up or as much as a 35 pass Gutmann erase. There are a bunch of different programs out there for free though, look around before you decide to destroy that hard drive.

02-11-2016, 03:54 AM
The hard drive magnets can be used to make small DC generators if you get enough of them. As mentioned, physically destroy the platters in the drive or someone can recover data unless you have wipe software. Rest of it? Media server for movies if you put in bigger drives as mentioned. Limited scrap metal use. The power supplies can be used for plating with some modifications... I just scrapped a couple. Not enough gold in them to warrant the nasty chemicals needed for recovery of it. Unless it is pretty old, a couple of the CPU's had 1/2 oz of gold plating on them.

Ken in Iowa
02-12-2016, 10:32 PM
A typical desktop hard drive is rather tough. Makes sure the shot or bullets go through. :)

For donation purposes, a drive wiping program will suffice for most people. Data miners have enough low hanging fruit to explore.....

The company where I used to work at would shred all hard drives and cell phones. The machine was really something. ;)

02-12-2016, 10:40 PM
Take it to a local school and ask if there is some needy kid that could use it.