Sorting out your tech treasure from the trash


Sorting out your tech treasure from the trash

Rather than running a marathon or baking the perfect sourdough, perhaps a less ambitious lockdown goal is cleaning out all your old tech.

While I’m stuck at home and work is slow, I’m tackling the hefty job of cleaning out my home office. It’s no simple task; I’ve been a tech journalist for more than 20 years and I’ve still got old gear in unpacked boxes from when I last moved house 12 years ago.

Old computers and gadgets can take up a lot of space.

Old computers and gadgets can take up a lot of space.Credit:Flicker / JohnJMatlock

The first step is to chuck anything that you couldn’t even give away, while keeping an eye out for gear that might be useful to friends or perhaps fetch a few bucks on eBay.

Along with dead notebooks, printers and Ethernet switches, I’ve got ancient PS/2 keyboards, trackball mice, CRT monitors, AGP graphics cards, Personal Digital Assistants and 2G mobile phones.

Even if they still work, I wouldn’t inflict them on anyone. They can all go, except for my precious vintage Star Trek style Palm Treo 180 flip phone. It’s a classic.

Less precious are the webcam and laser printer which are so old they won’t run on Windows 10, so they’re going. If your loved ones are still using Windows 7 or, worse yet, Windows XP then it’s time to upgrade as Microsoft no longer offers security updates.


My mother-in-law was reluctant to take the leap because she needs Windows XP to run her old Brother embroidery machine. The workaround is to run Windows XP as an application on Windows 10 using VirtualBox; software which mimics a physical computer. Windows XP is not connected to the internet and she’s under strict instructions to only use it for transferring patterns to the embroidery machine.

There’s no need to dump your old tech on the nature strip, as most of it can be recycled. Take a look at Planet Ark’s for options in your area. Many local councils accept e-waste for free at their transfer stations, plus some major retailers let you drop off old tech like computers and phones.

If you can’t justify your clean out as an essential reason for leaving the house, perhaps start a pile for when lockdown is eased.

When it comes to old computers which still might be useful to someone, you can donate them to places like Computerbank, Enable IT and Green Collect. Call ahead to check how they’re operating during the lockdown and the best way to wipe your data, so you’re not giving away more than you bargained for.

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