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I work in the IT dept of a small company that has lots of remote users. Over time, the various dell laptops will have a keyboard break, monitor go out, or motherboard fry. It's really not worth replacing a motherboard or lcd for the business, but is there some organization that will cobble laptops back together for underserved people? The only alternative I have so far is a recycling place.

I'm in San Diego, Ca


locked by HopelessN00b Jan 22 '15 at 5:32

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closed as off-topic by HopelessN00b Jan 22 '15 at 5:32

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Location may be helpful. I'm sure they exist, but if they're near you... who knows? – LukeR Oct 5 '09 at 23:52
This question is off-topic under current topicality rules. – HopelessN00b Jan 22 '15 at 5:32

10 Answers 10

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Check in your area for organizations that repair and donate computers to schools and non-profits.

There's also organizations like FreeGeek


For the ones that can't be repaired, I have one word for you: Trebuchet.


Dell offer a recycling service, although I'm not sure of the particulars involved with using it.

You may have to look for one specific to your region.


Laptops with busted keyboards / track pads / hard disks make great digital picture frames.


If you bought a series of machines all of the same model, it might be worth holding onto a few of the broken ones as scrap machines to scavenge for parts to fix the others.

This of course assumes that you aren't being kept busy with all of your other tasks, and have some occasional breathing room.

But, if you're really looking for a place to donate to -- some Goodwill stores will take and refurbish computers. I believe they use it for training people in computer repair and then sell the machines through their stores.


You can always try selling them (on Ebay or the like). Some people buy partially working or broken laptops (or even just laptop parts) to get replacement parts. I managed to sell a non-booting laptop for 80 € on Ebay.

Apparently, some people make a decent buck producing refurbished/"Frankenstein" laptops (buy a dozen broken ones, make five or six good ones). Seems everyone wins that way.


The best option is to find a reputable recycler and recycle it. It should cost money, unless a vendor like Dell, IBM, HP, Apple, etc is funding it. Very few organizations can handle used computer donations responsibly, and I'd be especially leery of a group shipping electronics overseas.

The two environmentally and morally hazardous places that these donations are likely to end up are:

  • In a landfill, possibly leaching lead, cadmium and other nasties into the watershed
  • In an ersatz smelter in the third world where the impoverished burn electronics for copper and gold. There are individuals who actively smuggle junk electronics and CRTs places like Ghana for this purpose.

You can also save the LCD panels to make yourself a DIY projector -- see for a tutorial.


If the monitor's busted you could get a large screen with VGA input, an IR sensor/remote combo and use it as a lightweight-ish media centre.

I plan to do this with one of my less used laptops.


There's plenty of places that will take the laptops and ship them overseas to be cleaned up and reused. Your local computer shops probably know who they are. Or check the yellow pages under electronic recycling.

Not only do I not know of these "yellow pages" of which you speak (perhaps they were an ancient form of Internet), but what does it mean to "change" them? Meanwhile, I'll be checking Google. – Dennis Williamson Oct 6 '09 at 1:22
Yes they are an ancient form of Internet. – mrdenny Oct 6 '09 at 22:22
"Not Happy, JAN" – Mark Henderson Oct 6 '09 at 22:52

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