Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

Before we dig into the nuts and bolts of this article, we need to inform you of a couple of basic precautions to take before selling your laptop. Thankfully, you don’t need to do much work to prepare your laptop before recycling it.



Top places to sell your laptop:
  • In person sales

  • Online Recyclers like SellBroke or Gazelle

  • Big Box Store Recycling Programs

  • Manufacturer Recycling Programs

  • Local Waste Management Facility

  • Charity

  • Thrift Stores



The number one precaution you need to take is to ensure that you remove personal data from your device.


If this is a cell phone, you will want to perform a factory reset. With cameras, do a factory reset and dispose of the memory card used with it (don’t sell it with the camera). If you are selling a laptop, either format the drive (in a process called zeroing the drive) or remove the storage drive altogether.

Zeroing a laptop drive requires a little more effort. A free program called DBAN will help you do this. This application will require that you make a bootable USB drive, boot the laptop with this drive, and allow DBAN to wipe the laptop drive.

Deleting files alone isn’t enough. When you delete a file from your laptop, it’s not truly erased. Computers use something called a file system to store and track data. This is a lot like a card catalog in a library, and much like a card catalog, just because you remove the index card from a catalog doesn’t mean the book was removed from the shelf. You can still find it, it’s just going to take a lot of extra work. You need to make sure that the entire card catalog, along with all of the books, are removed from the library and destroyed. This is what DBAN does with your laptop’s hard drive.

Use these links to reset your smartphones:
Restoring an iPhone
Resetting an Android Device



In-Person Sales

Selling your old laptop, or other electronics, in-person is a great option. Out of all the methods mentioned in this list, selling your old devices yourself, as opposed to a reseller or broker, will net you the biggest sale (more money in your pocket). There are trade-offs though.


Personal Security (Stranger Danger!)

There is always a personal risk meeting a stranger. Make sure to stay safe. Most people in the world are inherently good people, and they just want to score a good deal. Nonetheless, there is always a risk that someone is trying to steal your stuff. Make sure to follow proper safety rules when you agree to meet a random stranger you meet on the internet. Read this article on Craigslist for further information about keeping yourself safe while selling things in-person.



There is a lot of extra hassle selling your old devices yourself. People will try and low-ball you to lower the price. A lot of independent resellers try and score a super cheap deal from someone that needs to sell things for quick cash. You will get a lot of low-ball offers, and these can be frustrating.

You will also need to take time out of your day to meet someone that may decide not to show up. This is common. Make sure to meet potential buyers close to your house.

Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are both easy places to both list and sell your device in-person. Apps like LetGo and OfferUp are also viable options.



Give Old Devices to Charity

There are a lot of schools and churches that need devices. Don’t discount these groups. Churches and community groups can do a lot of good in their local areas. A lot of these organizations offer free classes or after-school tutoring programs for kids.

The downside of being a non-profit or charity program is that they typically lack resources. Your old laptop, while it may not play the latest games or be the fastest machine in the world, may allow another child to get help with school. It may also be the difference of someone down on their luck finding a job versus struggling a little bit longer. Giving your devices to charity organizations is a great way to recycle your old devices.

Check out Computers With Causes for an easy way to donate your laptop everywhere.



Sell Your Laptop to Online Recyclers

There are a lot of online resellers. One of the best is SellBroke will buy used or broken laptops, smartphones, cameras, and all sorts of other electronics. They also offer some of the best prices for used gadgets.

Why would I recommend SellBroke over other resellers? Sellbroke is a member of the Better Business Bureau. While it’s true that the Better Business Bureau doesn’t have a lot of true regulatory clout, members tend to take their membership seriously. Having a high rating in the BBB shows that the business puts its best foot forward.

SellBroke is also eco-friendly. I can’t stress how important this is. We generate more than 50 million tons of e-waste today. Less than 13% of that is recycled. That’s a lot of trash that lands in our landfills. To make matters worse, electronics contain harmful chemicals that will slowly leach into our soil, and eventually, our waterways. SellBroke ensures that recycled parts are disposed of in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.

There are many online resellers like SellBroke.Com. Gazelle is another well-known option. Using online services like these will net you money in your pocket without the hassle of meeting people in-person. Online retailers are a great middle option to both sell and recycle your old laptops without risking personal safety or visiting local waste management facilities.

One more point; reputable online recyclers like SellBroke and Gazelle will ensure your personal safety. If you forget to wipe a device, they will make sure all of your personal data is destroyed. Both companies want to keep their customers safe. They won’t risk sensitive data being leaked. There are plenty smaller recyclers like SellLaptopBack specializing in just one type of electronic devices.


Top 10 online recyclers:
  • SellBroke

  • Gazelle

  • SellLaptopBack

  • SellGadgets

  • GatCashForLaptop

  • LaptopNuts

  • SellMeLaptop

  • BuyBackWorld

  • LaptopToCashConverter

  • ItsWorthMore



Visit Your Local Waste Management Facility


Most communities have a local waste management facility. These facilities perform the transfer functions from the garbage collectors to the local disposal site, whether this is an incinerator, landfill, or recycling center. Most state laws require these facilities to accept electronics and dispose of them properly. Depending on local laws, these facilities may also charge you for this service.

Do your research before taking your electronics to these transfer stations, though. Not all transfer stations have the capability to dispose of electronic devices properly despite laws requiring them to do so. For example, the local waste management in York, Pennsylvania has a lot filled with old televisions because they have no way of properly getting rid of them.

Each local municipality is different. The easiest way to find out how to recycle old electronics locally is to simply do a google search for electronics recycling in your area.



Visit a Local Big Box Store


Most Big Box stores (EG. Best Buy, Staples) have electronics recycling programs. If your local waste management facility isn’t a good solution, these big box stores might offer a viable alternative.

Big Box stores typically partner with a local recycler or reseller in your area. These partners will regularly visit chain stores for pickups. After removing the merchandise, they will break old electronics down to individual parts for resale. This is how many electrical component resellers on eBay and Amazon get their replacement parts.

You won’t make any money by recycling your old electronics at chain stores, but you also don’t have to deal with the hassle of visiting waste facilities or meeting people in-person to sell your old stuff to that may not even show up.



Where Should I Avoid Taking My Electronics To Recycle?


Believe it or not, there are many places you shouldn’t take your old electronics to recycle. Avoid Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other thrift stores. These places want to sell working merchandise to customers. It’s rather common that if a device isn’t working, they will trash it. Of course, because Goodwill and Salvation Army is run by franchisees, each local store may be a little different. Nonetheless, this is a known issue with these organizations. They are great to donate old clothes and furniture too but avoid taking your old electronics to these stores.

Also, avoid recycling programs from manufacturers. Apple notably won’t take devices that are too old. Likewise, their voucher program offers very little return on your old devices. For a recycling program, Apple makes this process a big hassle.



Wrapping up


Retailers like SellBroke and Gazelle offer much better payments for your old electronics. Recycling programs provided by manufacturers are typically designed to get customers to upgrade their old devices by offering some form of incentive. That incentive comes in the form of a gift card that can typically only be used at that same manufacturer.

Don’t use those trade-in programs from cell carriers either. For instance, Verizon will offer customers $620 for a Samsung Galaxy 10 5G phone according to their website. What Verizon doesn’t state is that this price is only for new condition devices. If your phone shows any signs of wear or tear, that price starts to go down. Likewise, a brand new Galaxy 10 5G will cost $1299.99 for the base model. At the time of writing this article, a used Galaxy 10 5G is selling on eBay regularly for about $800. This trend stays true for just about any smartphone.