What to Do With Your Old Laptop
Instead of letting it sit idle in your home, why not try one of these four options?
If you have an old laptop collecting dust in your home, you’re not alone. People who purchase a new model frequently let the old one linger under the roof—unused.
And that raises a good question: How do you go about finding a new home for an old laptop? If you’re working on clearing out your closets to make way for holiday gifts, here are a few eco-friendly options to consider.
Believe it or not, there’s a robust market for old tech. Between Craigslist, Decluttr, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Letgo, OfferUp, and Swappa, you should have no trouble finding someone to take an unwanted computer off your hands. On eBay, a nonfunctioning MacBook Pro recently sold for $420 and a third-generation iPad Mini for $150.
For those who don’t have the time to list used electronics, don’t fret; many municipalities schedule collection days year-round.
In some cases you may have to fill out a pickup request online. To get the details, go to the website for your local government or sanitation department.
If your city doesn’t have such a program for electronics products, you can look for recycling options near you by entering your ZIP code at the Computer Technology Association’s Recycle Locator or Earth911’s extensive recycling database. Earth911 also offers assistance by phone at 800-CLEANUP (800-253-2687).
Additionally, Dell Reconnect teams up with participating Goodwill chapters to accept donations. Enter your ZIP code on its site to see whether there’s a drop-off location near you.
It’s always nice to give back, and a used computer is a valuable tool for a family without the resources to buy one. If you’d like to contribute a laptop to a family in need, Digitunity and the World Computer Exchange can help you make that happen.
These days, it’s hard to do homework, apply for a job, or even schedule appointments for medical treatment without access to a computer and broadband.
Even a 5- or 6-year-old computer can be given a second life in a new home. To find a nearby nonprofit in need of equipment, you can check out the hundreds of prescreened organizations listed on the Digitunity website.
Keep in mind that your donation may be eligible for a tax break.
"You can deduct the fair market value of the laptop—that is, how much it would be worth if you sold it on, say, eBay," says Tobie Stanger, a CR senior editor who has covered taxes. "To be written off on your tax return, a donated item must at least be in good condition."
Even people who take the standard deduction and don’t itemize can claim charitable contributions on their 2021 tax forms—up to $300 for individuals and $600 for couples filing jointly—thanks to a temporary provision in the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, enacted last December.
For help in coming up with the valuation, use TurboTax’s ItsDeductible (online or as an app), which values items based on current eBay prices.
And last, if you have a child or a friend in need of a computer, you can always hand over the one you’ve outgrown. Just wipe the hard drive first.
On a PC, follow the instructions on Microsoft’s site for resetting your PC and removing the device from your Microsoft account. Make sure to install a fresh version of Windows, too.
On a Mac, follow the instructions on Apple’s site on creating a backup (if needed), signing out of programs, erasing your hard drive, and reinstalling MacOS.