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Finding a Home for Old Computers
washingtonpost.com ^ | Sunday, January 2, 2005 | Mike Musgrove

Posted on 01/02/2005 9:12:01 PM PST by crushelits

If getting rid of clutter happens to be one of your New Year's resolutions, nothing will clear up a few cubic feet of space like getting an old computer, monitor or printer out the door.

In most cases, selling that antique hardware to a friend, co-worker or eBay user won't be an option computers lose their value faster than almost any other manufactured product in history. Just tossing them in the trash isn't a good idea either: Most computing gear contains such toxic components as lead, mercury and cadmium.

Instead, your options probably fall into the same two categories as a lot of other household junk: recycling or disposal.

The simplest choice is one of the computer-recycling programs that many PC vendors run. Gateway (www.gateway.tradeups.com), Hewlett-Packard (www.hp.com/recycle) and Dell (www.dell.com/recycle) all accept defunct computers regardless of brand. Just fill out an online form, pay a processing fee (usually $15 to $35) and pack up the old equipment. A shipper will show up at your door a few days later to whisk it away. In some cases, you can get a rebate toward the purchase of a new machine.

Equipment taken in through such recycling programs will be shipped to facilities built for breaking computers back down to their basic elements. Plastic, glass, steel, aluminum, copper, gold and silver -- all found inside desktops and laptops -- can be recovered and reused; the toxic leftovers will be safely disposed of.

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: computers; environment; finding; home; old; recycling
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1 posted on 01/02/2005 9:12:02 PM PST by crushelits
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To: crushelits

Office Depot was running a recycle program for awhile. I have 4 to get rid of this year ... need the space. But how to wipe the hard drive clean?


2 posted on 01/02/2005 9:15:34 PM PST by BunnySlippers (Happy Festivus ...)
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To: crushelits
For one thing, I like most of my clutter.

Also, if aluminum re-cycling plants will pay me to return cans, etc., why shouldn't a computer company pay me?

3 posted on 01/02/2005 9:18:06 PM PST by lakey
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To: crushelits
We donate our old electronic/ computer stuff to a local trade school that teaches electronics and computer hardware repair. My husband got rid of several old computers and an old copy machine this way. We are about ready to make another donation to them again. They appreciate the donation and we get a tax write off, talk about a win-win situation.
4 posted on 01/02/2005 9:18:59 PM PST by notpoliticallycorewrecked
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To: BunnySlippers

I picked up an old but brand new in the box printer at the dump last summer. It was just sitting in front of a dumpster. I Ebayed a printer cable and youngest has a printer now.


5 posted on 01/02/2005 9:19:03 PM PST by annyokie (If the shoe fits, put 'em both on!)
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To: BunnySlippers

Just reformat the hard drive. By CIA standards (or so I hear) a hard drive must be reformatted three times to be officially "clean."


6 posted on 01/02/2005 9:20:29 PM PST by Future Snake Eater ("Stupid grandma leaver-outers!"--Tom Servo)
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To: BunnySlippers

why bother - just grab a screw driver and pull the HDs out and throw 'em in a drawer or somethin


7 posted on 01/02/2005 9:22:55 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead (I believe in American Exceptionalism! Do you?)
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To: BunnySlippers
There are plenty of disk wiping programs out there that will clean disks beyond the ability of virtually anyone to read. If you're extra paranoid concerned - the NSA or CIA may want to see what you've been up to, for example - then you can always pull the drive out and physically destroy it. Bashing the case open and melting the platters with a blowtorch will make it unreadable by mortal men, just as an example of one possible method. Or just put the drive(s) back to work in your current machine(s) and don't dispose of them at all.
8 posted on 01/02/2005 9:25:08 PM PST by general_re (Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.)
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To: BunnySlippers

Stick it in an 80 ton fender press and cycle the press, or toss it into a lit fireplace. Guaranteed. 0 recoverable data.


9 posted on 01/02/2005 9:26:02 PM PST by kylaka
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To: crushelits

I've always wished that someone (much smarter than me) would write an absolutely foolproof and simple to use email program for older folks to use to communicate via email and perhaps even instant messaging to their loved ones. I think it would be wonderful for shut-ins, those in various types of care facilities, etc., and a wonderful use of old, recycled computers that wouldn't be useful for much else.




10 posted on 01/02/2005 9:26:27 PM PST by justt bloomin
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To: BunnySlippers
But how to wipe the hard drive clean?

Google up a utility called gdisk.exe. It'll wipe and rewrite to prevent retrieval.

11 posted on 01/02/2005 9:27:13 PM PST by Gunslingr3
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To: Texas_Jarhead

This is the best solution. When you buy a computer, it's nice to have 2 spare drives so you can offload files to them. By having 3 drives, it reduces head motion and the system actually will run faster. It really does work. Also
you can use one of the 2 extra spindles to backup to.


12 posted on 01/02/2005 9:27:42 PM PST by ProudVet77 (Currently interviewing 2005 taglines.)
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To: BunnySlippers
Can the system be booted off the CDROM? The UltimateBootCD has some utilities to simply zero a drive, or if you are truely concerned, some additional options to really scour the drive.

http://ubcd.sf.net/

P.S.: Of course you could do what one "bright" person did. Smash the drive with a sledge hammer. (In a room adjacent to a bank vault, equipped with the obligitory vibration sensors. ;-)

13 posted on 01/02/2005 9:27:46 PM PST by mlstier ("Abortion is not a choice. It's changing ones mind.")
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To: kylaka
Stick it in an 80 ton fender press and cycle the press

Cool. Where do I get an 80 ton fender press? What is it? :)

14 posted on 01/02/2005 9:27:50 PM PST by BunnySlippers (Happy Festivus ...)
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To: Future Snake Eater

There is a program called Shredder that should be available in the public domain. Let's just say it gets the seal of approval from the 3-letter agencies.


15 posted on 01/02/2005 9:28:23 PM PST by JackelopeBreeder (Proud to be a mean-spirited & divisive loco gringo armed terrorist vigilante cucaracha!)
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To: crushelits

16 posted on 01/02/2005 9:28:36 PM PST by MadelineZapeezda (If you right click on Keith Olberman's image, the word a$$hole should come up!)
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To: justt bloomin

I set up a pc for my Mom with nothing on the desktop but an icon that say "MAIL" and another that says "NET".

She forgets which button to push to turn it "ON".


17 posted on 01/02/2005 9:31:24 PM PST by bitt
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To: Future Snake Eater; BunnySlippers
Just reformat the hard drive. By CIA standards (or so I hear) a hard drive must be reformatted three times to be officially "clean."

No no no no no. Formatting a hard drives does NOT alter the data. It's all still there, all still accessible by anyone who knows what they're doing. (Like me.:)

You want to WIPE the drive, which is the process of actually overwriting each sector on the hard drive with meaningless "data." Most wipe utilities by default write a "00" to each sector. A single-pass wipe will be fine. There are plenty of freebie wipe programs out there. Go to download.com and do a search on WIPE and see what you find.

MM

18 posted on 01/02/2005 9:33:01 PM PST by MississippiMan (Americans should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.)
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To: MississippiMan

Out of curiosity, how do you recover data from a reformatted drive?


19 posted on 01/02/2005 9:34:28 PM PST by Future Snake Eater ("Stupid grandma leaver-outers!"--Tom Servo)
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To: Gunslingr3

http://koti.mbnet.fi/~jmoksa/liiteri/prog/gdisk.zip

gdisk download. I suppose you unzip then this goes on a floppy that you boot to.


20 posted on 01/02/2005 9:38:22 PM PST by dennisw (G_D: Against Amelek for all generations.)
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To: MississippiMan

gwscan is a fast all purpose hard drive wiper. Works on just about all drives. It's at the Gateway website under downloads


21 posted on 01/02/2005 9:40:29 PM PST by dennisw (G_D: Against Amelek for all generations.)
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To: crushelits

Or.....and you won't have to pay shipping for this method...join a Freecycle group, offer your computer, and somebody who needs one will respond to your offer and come pick it up.

http://www.freecycle.org


22 posted on 01/02/2005 9:43:18 PM PST by rwfromkansas ("War is an ugly thing, but...the decayed feeling...which thinks nothing worth war, is worse." -Mill)
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To: crushelits
Everytime I get a new computer,I pawn the old one off on my brother-in-law.
He welcomes the "upgrade" and puts his "old one" in his basement.

Last time I looked....

He had a 286,386,486,486 souped up with Pentium Overdrive,and a 166 Mhz Pentium down there.

23 posted on 01/02/2005 9:43:21 PM PST by HP8753 (I survived a cat byte !!)
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To: Future Snake Eater
There are a good number of programs out there that can do that. I use File Scavenger, which only recovers NTFS formatted drives, but there are others that also do FAT.

In most cases that I've used it, data recovery was complete and reliable. In one instance, the reliability of the data was spotty, and had to be verified. Recovery is easy, with a small learning curve, and takes a couple hours for a 250 Gig drive.

24 posted on 01/02/2005 9:45:24 PM PST by kylaka
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To: Future Snake Eater
High-level formatting (what you get when you type format c:, for example) can be undone in software - that's easy to overcome. Low-level formatting (overwriting the drive with all zeros or some such) demands a bit more work, but recovering information from it is quite doable. You need an electron microscope and a good long time to work on it, but it can be done ;)
25 posted on 01/02/2005 9:49:59 PM PST by general_re (Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.)
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To: BunnySlippers

A fender press forms car fenders. I can assure you, that a hood or door press will work just as well.


26 posted on 01/02/2005 9:51:27 PM PST by kylaka
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To: bitt

I over heard a friend talking to his elderly mother after Church recently. She was concerned that her comp. might get a virus. he told her it wasn't possible because it wasn't online and she's the only one that's on it. She said, oh no, your father uses it too.


27 posted on 01/02/2005 9:52:20 PM PST by Graybeard58 (Remember and pray for Spec.4 Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: BunnySlippers

fdisk

Look it up on the net.


28 posted on 01/02/2005 9:56:00 PM PST by A CA Guy (God Bless America, God bless and keep safe our fighting men and women.)
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To: general_re
If you're extra paranoid concerned - the NSA or CIA may want to see what you've been up to, for example

Are you kidding? The CIA and NSA already know what you've been up to, and we they are starting to get a little annoyed.
29 posted on 01/02/2005 9:57:00 PM PST by advance_copy
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To: BunnySlippers
This program's easy to use and gives you the option of writing over the drive with far more than one set of '0's.

Now, who can recommend a good (and free) encryption program? I've been using this one. Are there better ones?

30 posted on 01/02/2005 9:58:33 PM PST by Tristram Shandy
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To: Future Snake Eater
Out of curiosity, how do you recover data from a reformatted drive?

If you know how, you can do it manually with something as simple as Norton's old DISKEDIT.EXE DOS utility. Of course, this will turn into a VERY time consuming process very quickly. So from a practical perspective, you'd want to use recovery software designed to automate the task. I do digital forensics work and have a number of different forensic packages I work with.

MM

31 posted on 01/02/2005 9:59:06 PM PST by MississippiMan (Americans should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.)
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To: Tristram Shandy

What is it you want to encrypt?


32 posted on 01/02/2005 10:04:04 PM PST by general_re (Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.)
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To: MississippiMan

Sledgehammer. 10 times. No information can be recovered.

Ever.


33 posted on 01/02/2005 10:05:37 PM PST by Rightone
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To: lakey
But how to wipe the hard drive clean?

I take the hard drive out & smash it with a BIG hammer. You must smash the platter inside the metal case, so be sure to do a good job.

This is safer than any amount of reformatting. They will recycle the computer without the hard drive inside it.

34 posted on 01/02/2005 10:09:19 PM PST by CurlyDave
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To: MississippiMan

Then I have a question for you. I run Spybot on both my computers, and the desktop keeps showing 5 entries of DSO Exploit. I can run the program, choose to remove the DSO Exploit, run the program again, and they still show up. I DON'T want to reformat my hard drive -- how can I clean DSO off my machine?


35 posted on 01/02/2005 10:17:15 PM PST by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch (THANK YOU LORD -- John Kerry is still just a senator.)
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To: general_re
What is it you want to encrypt?

My Raquel Darrien collection, of course. (Do you leave yours unencrypted?) And some financial stuff. Files, not drives.

36 posted on 01/02/2005 10:17:21 PM PST by Tristram Shandy
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To: BunnySlippers
"But how to wipe the hard drive clean?

fdisk and destroy the partitions. Create a new one and while formatting, shut the machine off. There are low-level recovery programs that can get somebody back, but not well known. You will be safe.

37 posted on 01/02/2005 10:23:41 PM PST by BobS
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To: Tristram Shandy
Okay. Well, if you want, Windows 2000 and XP Pro both have encrypting filesystems built right in. Totally transparent and pretty secure. Otherwise, PGP 8 is still around and is the de facto standard - it's free for personal use.
38 posted on 01/02/2005 10:23:43 PM PST by general_re (Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.)
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To: BunnySlippers
But how to wipe the hard drive clean?

You can go to the Active@ web site and download their free utility that will overwrite all the data on the drive. This should be OK for most people. However, if you've got really sensative data that you need to be sure can NOT be recovered, they've got a commercial product that conforms to DOD requirements.

Mark

39 posted on 01/02/2005 10:26:58 PM PST by MarkL (That which does not kill me, has made the last mistake it will ever make!)
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To: general_re
There are plenty of disk wiping programs out there that will clean disks beyond the ability of virtually anyone to read. If you're extra paranoid concerned - the NSA or CIA may want to see what you've been up to, for example - then you can always pull the drive out and physically destroy it

I've had certain government agencies as clients, and they wanted some hard drives replaced under warranty, and I had to explain to them that if they wanted the drives replaced under warranty, the drives had to be shipped back to the manufacturer.

The way they "wiped" the drives was putting them through a metal shredder! It's hard to recover data from 1/2" square shards of metal!

Mark

40 posted on 01/02/2005 10:30:25 PM PST by MarkL (That which does not kill me, has made the last mistake it will ever make!)
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To: Rightone
Sledgehammer. 10 times. No information can be recovered.

Probably true, but not guaranteed. The military has a crack digital forensics operation, run by the Air Force IIRC, though it does work for all the branches. Anyway, the authorities went to a guy's house to question him about his wife's murder. He decided to get cute with them and grabbed a big pair of scissors and cut a floppy diskette into 23 pieces then handed it to them. The forensic guys put it back together and got enough data from it to convict the jerk. :-)

MM

41 posted on 01/02/2005 10:30:38 PM PST by MississippiMan (Americans should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.)
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To: Tuscaloosa Goldfinch
Here you go, Finch:

DSO Exploit Cure

MM

42 posted on 01/02/2005 10:33:36 PM PST by MississippiMan (Americans should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.)
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To: MarkL

I guess they preferred replacement rather than repair, eh? ;)


43 posted on 01/02/2005 10:34:02 PM PST by general_re (Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.)
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To: BunnySlippers
But how to wipe the hard drive clean?

1/4" Metal Bit in a drill

10-800 holes thru the disk case

buy a new disk for 30 bucks

44 posted on 01/02/2005 10:37:19 PM PST by 1_Inch_Group
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To: Future Snake Eater
Out of curiosity, how do you recover data from a reformatted drive?

First off, it depends on what sort of "format" you're talking about... If you're talking about a DOS "format," that's the equivalent of taking a book and ripping out the table of contents. It's relatively easy to reconstruct the data with a number of different software packages.

If you're talking about a Windows format, or some other disk wiping packages that write the same data to every disk block (like zeroing it out), there is filter software that will allow you to read the latent magnetic signature (though this usually needs to be done by disasembling the drive. Most data recovery houses are capable of doing this. If random data is repeatedly written to every block of the drive, it's nearly impossible to recover the data, but I've heard that at Ft. Meade, they have the tools to do it (at least sometimes).

Mark

45 posted on 01/02/2005 10:37:31 PM PST by MarkL (That which does not kill me, has made the last mistake it will ever make!)
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To: MississippiMan

Hey, thanks!!!


46 posted on 01/02/2005 10:37:33 PM PST by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch (THANK YOU LORD -- John Kerry is still just a senator.)
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To: MadelineZapeezda

Best use for an old case I've ever seen!!! :-)


47 posted on 01/02/2005 10:39:33 PM PST by JoeSixPack1
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To: Graybeard58
I over heard a friend talking to his elderly mother after Church recently. She was concerned that her comp. might get a virus. he told her it wasn't possible because it wasn't online and she's the only one that's on it. She said, oh no, your father uses it too.

I kid you not... When my grandmother heard that my father had gotten bronchitus, she thought that he might have caught a "computer virus!" Really, I'm seriuos!

Mark

48 posted on 01/02/2005 10:39:37 PM PST by MarkL (That which does not kill me, has made the last mistake it will ever make!)
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To: Tuscaloosa Goldfinch

Welcome, Finch.

MM


49 posted on 01/02/2005 10:41:55 PM PST by MississippiMan (Americans should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.)
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To: CurlyDave

Agreed, new drives aren't expensive these days either.


50 posted on 01/02/2005 10:46:13 PM PST by 1066AD
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