How to Dispose of Old Computers

Whether it's not working or too outdated for use

What to Know

  • To donate to Goodwill, go to Dell Reconnect website > Enter zip code > Select Driving Direction for nearest location > Drop-off in person.
  • To trade-in, go to Best Buy's trade-in website > Select computer brand > Specify components > Select either Mail-in or Trade-in at Store.
  • To recycle, you can drop it off at a registered computer recycling facility.

There are multiple ways of getting rid of old computers, from donating to trading them in. This guide will show you some common and safe ways to dispose of old computers.

Can I Throw Away an Old Desktop Computer?

You should not (and in some cases cannot) throw away old computers for two main reasons.

  • Many computer components contain heavy metals which are hazardous to the environment.
  • The storage unit (HD or SSD) may have private information that should be handled correctly, or it could fall into the wrong hands.

We recommend properly preparing your old computer for disposal before getting rid of it, like wiping the hard drive.

Donating to Your Local Goodwill

Another option for getting rid of an old computer is to donate it to a charity like Goodwill.

  1. Goodwill has partnered up with Dell to provide a widespread computer recycling service. First, go to Dell Technologies recycling page.

  2. Scroll down and select which recycling service you will need. This guide will select Home or home office.

    Dell Technologies How to recycle
  3. On the next selections, choose PCs and laptops.

    PC or laptop Selection screen
  4. Select the Donate button under Donate to Dell Reconnect.

    Donate to Dell Reconnect
  5. Scroll down and select Find a location.

    Find a location
  6. In the next window, type in your zip code and select the search radius.

    Dell Reconnect Goodwill location
  7. After selecting which participating Goodwill location you wish to donate to, click Driving Directions to view your route.

 Trade-in Through Best Buy

Depending on what model computer you have, it might be worth checking to see if you can trade your old computer in through a retail program like Best Buy offers. Trade-ins get you a little cash toward a new machine.

  1. Go to the Best Buy Trade-in website.

    Best Buy Trade-in
  2. Scroll down to Product Category and select what type of computer you wish to trade in. As an example, this guide will choose a laptop.

    Best Buy trade-in Categories
  3. Select the brand of computer. In this example, Alienware will be chosen.

    Alienware chosen
  4. Select the processor.

    Best Buy processor chosen
  5. Select the operating system and how much memory is in the computer, then hit Continue.

    Best Buy OS and Memory
  6. In the next window, select your processor’s generation. A guide is provided to help you find out what the generation number.

    Best Buy processor generation
  7. Give a rating on your computer’s condition, then select if the battery or power adapter is included. The more you have, the more trade-in value you’ll receive.

    Best Buy condition and battery
  8. Best Buy will give you the estimated trade-in value, then select Add To Your Basket.

    Best Buy estimated trade-in value
  9. In the next window, you will be given an several options: to add another computer, mail it in, or trade at a nearby store.

    Trade-in estimate options
  10. If you choose to mail it in, you will have to fill out your shipping information. Once done, click Submit.

    Shipping information
  11. Clicking Submit will convert the information into a shipping label that you can attach to the mail-in package.

    Trade-in label to print
  12. Once Best Buy has received and verified the computer, an eGift Card will be emailed to you.

  13. If you selected Trade-In at Store, you will have to enter your contact information.

    Trade-in Contact info
  14. In the next window, click Find a Store and locate the nearest location where you can trade-in person.

    Find a Store button.


    If your computer is broken, you can also take it in to Best Buy where they will recycle it.

What Do You Do With an Old Computer That Doesn’t Work?

The best thing to do with broken computers is either sell them for parts online or bring them to a recycling program. Most trade-in or donation programs won't accept broken computers, but some allow people to recycle their old machines.

There are recycling services throughout the country, which you can find by searching on websites like the Consumer Technology Association or by searching for the nearest recycling plant. If you wish to make some money from old computers, various online companies will buy your device even if it's broken.

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