Donate your old computers to schools or organizations

To everything there is a season, including computers.

Suppose your brand new Pentium IV computer has just arrived and you can't wait to get it connected. But you still have the old machine that is being replaced. What do you do with it?

There are a number of options. 

In our house we have two desktop computers and one laptop. I have networked these so that we can share files, printers and our one dialup Internet connection.

But what if you don't want to keep the old machine? How do you dispose of it?

There seems to be a hierarchy in disposing of old computers. Probably at the top is passing the machine down to your kids or grandchildren. However, today, the children tell us that their computers are more modern then our old one, so they say, "no thank you." Now what?

Dr. Angela Satterlee, Director of Management Information Systems for the Tustin Unified School District, will be happy to take your old computer if it's in working order and has at least a Pentium processor. You can drop it off at the District Office on 'C' Street. They also will take Mac's if they are in good condition. The District only has two computer technicians so can't repair older machines. This is a nice place to donate computers because they will be used in the Tustin school system.

For years, Goodwill Industries has been active in computer recycling. Heidi Haller of Goodwill said they would be happy to take your old computer if it has at least a 486 processor. It doesn't have to be working because they have a refurbishing group in Santa Ana. No black and white monitors, though. She said they have a special arrangement with Microsoft where they put new versions of Windows on their refurbished machines. Then the machines are made available to the public, primarily school age children, at the Computer Works sections of their stores like the new Fullerton Plaza Store or their store in Santa Ana. They also sell software, reconditioned faxes and telephones.

Salvation Army also will take old computers. Martin, of their recycling department, says only that the machine shouldn't be more than six years old or have parts missing. He did say that they prefer your personal machine and not truckloads from dealers. They recondition the computers and make them available for $59.50 in their 15 Orange County stores, where they also sell monitors, cd-roms and other parts. If they can't recondition the machine, they have an auction each morning where they dispose of what they can't fix, mostly to recyclers from south of the border. You can schedule a pickup by calling 1-800-958-7825.

Finally, if the machine doesn't meet any of the other criteria, it can be set out on the curb. Federal Disposal Service, Tustin's new trash contractor, says they will pick them up. If you have the new trash containers, use the gray one.

Dave Cook, Superintendent of the County of Orange Brea Landfill, says that at the "end of their life," they get plowed under.

I have tried to follow the life cycle of a computer. There are recyclers who completely strip machines right down to their scrap metal, but they deal in bulk and are hard to find by individuals.

So, if you have an "oldie but goodie," donating it makes a lot of sense since it will be put to good use.

Of course, don't forget to think about the remaining information on the old computer's hard drive and handle it appropriately.

If you have further questions about computer disposal or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

And for those interested in the Linux operating system, the Orange County Linux Users Group is having a Linux Demo Day with free admission and open to the public on Saturday, March 10, 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at MicroCenter in Tustin.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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