The time will eventually come when you or your business has to get rid of the computer to make room for the new one. The big question that is often asked though, is how and where. This can range from recycling to donating the computer towards an organization or charity. However before you make your decision, you should also consider what you are getting rid of.
Consider the Data on Your Hard Drive
Whenever you delete something off of the hard drive by throwing it away in the recycle bin it is not technically deleted. What happens is that the file is dumped into a section of the hard drive known as "unallocated space." The file will remain there until it is overwritten by a process, or another file being written over it. You can think of it as your hard drive being a giant phone book with the pages as the files. If someone tears out a page of the phone book it does not mean that the numbers that were on that page will stop working. Whenever you dispose of your computer you should either have the drive physically destroyed, or use a program to wipe the entire hard drive. These programs go through and overwrite the data on the hard drive multiple times, thus destroying any information contained on it.
Donating Your Computer to an Organization or Charity
This is probably the best use of your old computer. Not only is the donation tax refundable, but you are providing help to some of these organizations who are often struggling for funds. Just be sure that before you donate it that you have deleted all of the data from the hard drive of the machine.
Recycling Your Old Computer
This is one of the more attractive options for those computers that are too old to be of any use, even when donated, or ones that do not work anymore. Computers and their components are full of heavy and precious metals like gold or lead. They are contain other components that are very harmful and can be dangerous should the their base chemicals make their way down into the local groundwater system. Most computer manufacturers will recycle old equipment when you buy a new computer from them. Check with the manufacturer of your new machine to see if they will take yours. Otherwise the Environmental Protection Agency is always willing to provide you with information on where to dispose of your computer.