Freecycle your old, usable computer

by Michael W. Lind on May 21, 2009

Do you have an old, usable computer at home that is just gathering dust? Have you investigated selling it on eBay and found out that you would have to pay someone to take it off your hands? Chances are, there is someone on Freecycle.org willing to show up at your door and take it off your hands!


The Freecycle network is a “a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns”, according to the group’s website. I’ve done a couple of exchanges with my local Freecycle group. Today, I Freecycled a “classic” Pentium II tower, monitor and printer. I cleared out some space, and someone else picked up a system that is still good for kids’ games and word processing.

Here are some tips for Freecycling a system and for making life as easy as possible for the other Freecycler.

  1. Wipe your hard drive! You don’t want to send a hard drive into the wild with your tax returns on it. I use Active@ Kill Disk to wipe drives, and there are plenty of other utilities out there that do the same thing. Even though my system had just been used for games, I still wiped the drive. You never know what stray data could be on the disk.
  2. Reinstall the operating system. Yes, I know, we are talking about work here, but you are really doing your fellow Freecycler a favor. I actually enjoy installing operating systems. Besides, it was a fun nostalgia trip to install Windows 98SE on my system.
  3. Put some useful free software on the system. On the system I Freecycled, I installed the last version of OpenOffice.org that is supported on Windows 98SE. For antivirus software, I installed the free Avast! Antivirus Home Edition.
  4. Clean up the system. Use a little elbow grease and make the system presentable. It only takes a few minutes!
  5. Post a complete description of your system on your local Freecycle mailing list. You don’t want someone to show up at your door and say, “oops, that isn’t really what I need”

If you follow these recommendations, you will find that you clear out some clutter, keep a computer out of the landfill and make someone happy!

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