The 3 questions to ask yourself before recycling an old PC

You have decided: you want give a second life to this PC that you were using a few years ago. Or you want recycle old PCs that you picked up at the recycling center. But before you start, you must ask yourself the right questions before your approach turns to ordeal!Throughout this dossier on the recycling an old pc, I will take the example of two computers that I picked up a few days ago at the municipal waste collection center. The fishing had been good for me: I recovered two towers ! Yes, it doesn’t take much for the Crab to be happy 😀

1) How do you know if a computer is worth recycling?

This is the first question you should ask yourself before embarking on the recycling an old pc. Not all computers are « good » to recycle… You don’t want to have an old junk that was running Windows 3.1! So how do you know if a Pc abandoned can be interesting to to recycle ?

Here is my advice to know immediately if a computer worth to be recycled : see if the motherboard on the back has an RJ45 network port like this:


If the PC does not have this RJ45 network port, do not waste your time: these are often very old pc which ran best under Windows 98 and it is difficult to get anything from these machines. However, you can still take the PC with you if you want to do some hacking, try to dismantle / reassemble the components on your own to help you … Nothing prevents you after having tried to return it to the recycling center 😀

2) What if I recover a PC that is not working well?

Good question ! 😉 Indeed, if you have recovered a PC like me in a recycling center, you do not know if it was deposited because it no longer works at all or if it is because the former owners believe that it is become too old and that it is no longer useful. If this is the case, they are wrong 😀 In addition, do not think that we find computers most often HS in a recycling center, on the contrary I am sometimes surprised to find PCs in perfect working order!

old-pc-computer-trash-rubbish bin

If you find that the PC no longer works for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean everything is thrown away! It happens very often that a computer ends up in the trash because its owner – who may not be an expert in IT – considers that it is (wrongly) out of service for various reasons: too slow, difficulties to start, bugs of all kinds … While it may be a simple hard drive malfunction or a faulty memory module. Everything else may still be in working order and therefore good to collect.

The most unlucky case is if you get a pc with a faulty motherboard. You would then need to acquire another one, compatible with the components currently installed in the PC. And it is not easy! If it is only the hard drive that is defective for example, it is not difficult to find an IDE hard drive. Same for a HS graphics card, we can easily find a graphics card in AGP format for example. However, if the motherboard is defective, do not throw the computer away! You can recover the other components which work perfectly: hard drive, RAM, power supply unit … Do not forget to retrieve the motherboard battery. It can be useful if yours becomes out of order. Symptoms ? PC time often shifted, BIOS settings that reset to zero on each restart … It is perhaps the battery of the motherboard that is the cause. In addition, it is not given this battery believe me 😀

3) What are the different ways to recycle an old PC?

You’re in luck, all computer components that you have recovered are working correctly! Or you have succeeded in replacing some defective parts with components that you had kept in stock 🙂 Some of you know exactly what you will do with the machine. Others, on the other hand, wonder what they are going to be able to do with such an old machine. Here are some proposals that might interest you and give a second life to this voucher old pc !

Turn your old PC into a NAS server

You can transform your old pc in data storage server. This will allow you to centralize documents and share them with all the computers connected to your home network. If you have a box, you can install this system without problems. A storage server network is also called NAS (Network Attached Storage).

To set up your storage server, you can install FreeNAS on your old pc. It’s open-source software that turns a PC into a network file server. FreeNAS is completely free, you can download it from To help you install it, you can consult the documentation.

Donate your old PC to an association, a school or a member of your family

After restarting it, you can offer your old pc to an association or a school. For example, associations often do not have the means to invest in hardware. They generally don’t need a racehorse, only a PC that allows them to access the internet and use software such as word processing, spreadsheets, etc. You will also have the feeling of having done a good deed 😀

Likewise, if a member of your family is looking for a PC to check their emails or go to Youtube, you can offer them your old pc.

Remember: delete all your personal data from the hard drive before giving up your PC! 🙂

Use your old PC as a test machine

If you want for example test linux, this is the perfect opportunity! Indeed, even if Virtualbox makes it possible to emulate a Linux environment, nothing beats a « real » machine on which you can test the system and confront the realities of installation and use. To start, I advise you to use Debian which is undoubtedly the linux distribution the most stable and the easiest to use. However, I do not recommend Ubunstewtu that does not allow you to learn to use Linux. For those who want to get their hands dirty, you can try Arch Linux.

You can also have fun at dismantle and go back up alone computer components to train you and be able in the future to assemble your future PC yourself. It’s much nicer than buying a pre-assembled branded computer, you’ll see! 🙂

Use your old PC to play retro games

If you want to go back to childhood and replay old games Super Nintendo, Mega Drive or Game Boy, you can install emulators on your old pc ! These games do not require a lot of graphics resources, so you can run them without problems.

You can also use this old pc to replay PC games like Age of Empires II to name but one. Some of these games are no longer compatible with recent versions of Windows. Windows XP generally allows you to play all old PC games so feel free to reinstall it (if you have a license). To findold old-school games, I recommend the excellent site Abadonware France which lists a lot of retro games and traces the history of video games! : pc:

The final wordThe first chapter of the dossier on recycling an old pc stop here 😀 I hope it has enabled you to discover the many advantages offered by restoration of an old computer, that you can pick up in a recycling center or in your attic. Test machine, gift for a family member, installation of a NAS server … there is no shortage of solutions for recycle an old pc ! :okay:

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