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Thread: Why do companies throw out good computers?

  1. #1
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    Why do companies throw out good computers?

    A friend of mine just got 4 laptops for free, and she sent me one of them, a fantastic laptop, an HP EliteBook 755 G2.

    My friend works for a company (which I cannot name for privacy reasons) and they were going to toss out the laptops. According to her, her company was going through a software and hardware upgrade and they were going to throw out the laptops, they weren't going to donate the stuff to schools and libraries, they were just going to toss them out, so she managed to talk to the guy in charge of it and she got the 4 laptops.

    I'm using the laptop right now and it's great. 8GB RAM, the graphics on this thing is fantastic and the processor is pretty fast. The laptop came with an SSD, but no operating system installed, so I've installed Ubuntu on it and it's been great. This suggests that the company's IT staff had already wiped the laptops after it was decided to toss them out. Since this laptop is still in good working order, why would her company toss out this perfectly good laptop?

  2. #2
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    Re: Why do companies throw out good computers?

    I'm retired from the state department and when we did computer upgrades we removed the hard drives and then physically tossed the computers in the dumpster.

    The removed hard drives were then dissembled and the platters removed and placed into a crusher and destroyed.

    It's just easier to toss them into the dumpster than to donate them or give them away due to all of the red tape crapola.

    As a state department IT employee I was able to always grab as many of these as I wanted once tossed away in the dumpster.

    I believe it all boils down to legal crapola and liability.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Why do companies throw out good computers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ardouronerous View Post
    Since this laptop is still in good working order, why would her company toss out this perfectly good laptop?
    Because it's cheaper than doing anything else with them.

    The cost of new hardware (particularly if bought in bulk or as part of a service contract) is peanuts compared to the productivity gains from having standardised hardware, which is why companies have hardware refreshes in the first place.

    The drives will need to be wiped whatever happens, since they'll contain proprietary or confidential information. Anything else they do will take up time that they should be spending working.

    It is only worthwhile for a company to give old hardware a second life somewhere else if doing so is quicker than phoning up the waste management company to dispose of it, or if they've been given a mandate from higher up to do so regardless of the additional cost. In those cases there is generally some marketing benefit to the company to offset that additional cost: "Company X donated computers to y students," and the like.

    However, the benefits of standardisation apply just as much to a school's or library's IT department as it does to the company's IT department. They don't want a hodgepodge of random computers from various sources of unknown heritage, and rightly so.

    The only way it works at all is to have a buffer organisation in the middle that can take small numbers of machines and distribute them to individuals after testing. They can contact companies to say, "instead of calling your waste management company to pick up your old computers, call us to pick them up instead." That's been quite successful in places where there is a sufficient supply of companies refreshing their hardware and a sufficient demand of people to make use of them afterwards. It's often done by charities, since the people the machines are going to generally can't afford to cover the cost of refurbishing them and distributing them: they'd just buy one themselves if they could afford it. Sometimes the waste management companies will do it, if their operation is distributed enough.

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    Re: Why do companies throw out good computers?

    Quote Originally Posted by CatKiller View Post
    Because it's cheaper than doing anything else with them.
    plus here they often lease them. and this goes into costs and brings some kind of tax deductions. forgot exactly how it goes, but basically it is better to lease the car or computer for say 5 years than to buy it and later scrap it.

    i see many companies now selling refurbished business PC here. however they have quite high price. on the other hand they do give 1 year warranty on them.

    furthermore it is not so easy to sell old stuff due to laws, warranty, repairs... so they lease it and just send it back after about 5 years and receive new replacements.

    i sell spare parts and we often have to thrown them away. for example brand new electric motors. no one wants to buy them, we can't have stock now more (because stock costs money) and we also can't donate them (due to local laws etc.) to some engineering school which i am sure could use them in a workshop or something. instead we cripple them and throw them away.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Why do companies throw out good computers?

    Some laptops are a PITA to remove hard drives and to put them back together, an IT guy would get that job. So some companies it would cheaper to toss/wreak them than to pay for the job done right if there are quite a few.

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    Re: Why do companies throw out good computers?

    although business grade laptops are usually very serviceable. consumer laptops on the other hand.... soldered disk drive, soldered ram and CPU....
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    Re: Why do companies throw out good computers?

    Primarily it is because they do not understand the nature of how computers work.

    I had an employer tell me to destroy a computer once. Nice machine for Linux too. Core i5, 8g of Ram, 256g SSD, 1tb HD, GTX560 Video Card.
    I asked him if I could keep it, and use it for something at home. His answer was "No. There is sensitive data on the hard drive that needs to be destroyed."

    "Okay," I exclaimed. "Can I just wipe the Hard Drive?"

    To which he replied "No. You don't understand... I need it completely destroyed. No one can have access to the data."

    Unfortunately, going through an explanation of what wiping a disk actually entails was futile. Kind of reminded me of the scene from Zoolander when they were trying to get "into" the computer.
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    Re: Why do companies throw out good computers?

    Unlike the average private taxpayer, US businesses can write off "depreciation" as a loss and also write off "necessary" capital purchases.

    What a wonderful way to always have fairly new equipment.

    That is why companies do it. Period.
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    Re: Why do companies throw out good computers?

    What if you just physically removed the drive and then destroyed it in front of him? Would suck to lose a 256 GB SSD, but at least you'd still have the rest of it, and you could get a new drive.

  10. #10
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    Re: Why do companies throw out good computers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shibblet View Post
    Primarily it is because they do not understand the nature of how computers work.

    I had an employer tell me to destroy a computer once. Nice machine for Linux too. Core i5, 8g of Ram, 256g SSD, 1tb HD, GTX560 Video Card.
    I asked him if I could keep it, and use it for something at home. His answer was "No. There is sensitive data on the hard drive that needs to be destroyed."

    "Okay," I exclaimed. "Can I just wipe the Hard Drive?"

    To which he replied "No. You don't understand... I need it completely destroyed. No one can have access to the data."

    Unfortunately, going through an explanation of what wiping a disk actually entails was futile. Kind of reminded me of the scene from Zoolander when they were trying to get "into" the computer.
    So, basically, the guy in charge of tossing out the laptops in the dumpster, disobeyed his boss, wiped the drives and gave the laptops to employees that would ask, like my friend did.
    Last edited by ardouronerous; 2 Days Ago at 04:43 AM.

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