What is the value in old hardware?

Perhaps you can answer this question. I occasionally junk old computers, printers and scanners when they no longer function or have become obsolete. Can you tell me why today when I put out some of the latter a man in a pickup truck couldn't wait to take them off my hands. His face looked like he found a goldmine. If you can enlighten me, let me know.
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
Some companies recycle PC components - for the copper, gold or other elements or metals commonly found in PC's.  Depending on the system, the elements inside can be worth up to 10-50 dollars when recycled properly and sold off.  

Some businesses may sell PC parts - even if your computer doesn't work, there's probably some component that does and could be resold.  

Even the oldest PC's can serve some purpose ... some software, operating systems, services require very little in the way of hardware, so some people can find a use for almost any computer.

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DarinTCHSenior CyberSecurity EngineerCommented:
I often collect older PCs
Primarily it is for the components
some parts and pieces are hard to come by and when you finally do find them they cost too much
I'll always pick up a PC....take a spare card or older power supply
sometimes I'll let my young children practice taking them apart and try naming the components

just last month I was looking for a small HD to run a looping powerpoint
in an older small PC
the smallest spares I could find at the office was 100+ GB

then I looked in an old PC and found 20GB worked great
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
From a financial perspective, there's little "value" ==> but the old saying that "... one man's trash is another man's treasure ..." applies to computers just as much as many other areas.

Some folks collect these for recycling (very small value, but it's good for the environment & if you do enough of it the numbers add up -- just like collecting discarded aluminum cans);   some for parts (older add-in cards; hard drives; etc.);  and some just can't resist getting something that once cost hundreds of dollars for free.

A quick look at e-bay shows that even old, non-functioning systems can often bring at least a few dollars [it's arguable whether it's worth the hassle of selling/packing/shipping these].    

I've thrown away dozens of old systems, displays, printers, etc. -- they rarely make it to the actual trash pickup :-)
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My recycle vendor pays zero for one-time drop-offs or residential customers.  If you come in with multiples, they pay $5 per desktop and $35 per server, working or not.  They gamble that enough parts/material can be recovered to make a profit.  Plus, they get subsidy for the monitors.

From a money perspective, I took a half-dozen castaways, Frankensteined the parts, cleaned them up, and flipped them for $250.  Not bad for 8 hours of work in my pajamas.  Also nice to tell the original owner that I wiped or destroyed their drives, instead of trusting Goodwill to do it before the machines sprouted legs and walked away.

I saw someone take donated items at an unattended station once.  Dropped off a load of junk, and exchanged it for better junk, I guess.  But, makes me feel uncomfortable about donations without wiping the drives.
DarinTCHSenior CyberSecurity EngineerCommented:
Add on to previous comment
As a IT/Computer instructor
I would be bereft if I did not mention the security angle

We often get PCs donated at one of the training centers I work with
some just ask that the HD be wiped
many do not ask
or students bring in PCs they have salvaged

students occasionally build PCs and end up with a HD that has data
they 'have fun' looking at others JUNK DATA
1 PC had 30-40 GB of music in the itunes folder

so some of the more nefarious characters may just like getting a hold of older PCs to gain some info on you or acompany you may have worked for...

best way to avaid this - wiper the drive
there are several reasonably good shareware/freeware products
sheana11Author Commented:
I ususally take out the HD before I leave malfunctioning computers. However, I have never thrown out a HD because of the fear of what you said, DarinTCH. Can you recommend some good software to clean off my HD's so I can recycle them as well? Thanks in advance.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
There are many free utilities to do a good "scrub" of a hard drive ...

I like Eraser [http://eraser.heidi.ie/index.php ] and DBAN [http://www.dban.org/ ]

Eraser lets you securely erase just the data and leave the OS -- good if you're giving a computer away;  DBAN does a full disk scrub ("nuking" the drive).
DarinTCHSenior CyberSecurity EngineerCommented:
Eraser - I've used - it's good

I heard good things about Active Kill

and Darik nuke and Boot

try CNET and look for disk utilities
sheana11Author Commented:
Thanks for all the great input!
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