Now's a brilliant time to get rid of the old technology cluttering up your office, clear the decks and make some money.
Mind you, there's a choice; you can turn that old PC into cash or karma - sell it on or give it away.
One option puts money in your pocket while the other will give you a warm glow through the winter months.
Here are ten ways you can add to your coffers – or help out someone in greater need – by ditching stuff that you no longer want.
1. Amaze yourself with Amazon
The default advice when you have stuff to get rid of is to "put it on eBay" – but there's more than one way to sell online. Books, DVDs and CDs may find a more natural home on Amazon Marketplace. If your goods are in pristine nick, consider starting a shop there. You can set your own price and compete in a transparent market – getting the best return for your unwanted bits and bobs.
2. Use Computer Exchange
If you'd prefer a more instantaneous return on your old gear, give Computer Exchange a try. It buys DVDs, CDs, computer parts, electrical goods, consoles, video games and mobile phones. It's quick, professional and there are shops across the country, but the best part is that you can check how much they'll pay you at their website first. A tip though – try specialist 2nd hand CD shops first if you're selling on music. You may get a better price.
3. Put it in the classifieds
Sometimes the old ways are the best. A local, classified ad can be the easiest way to earn some pre-Christmas cash. So, why not combine tried and tested with new and shiny? Craig's List is entirely free – an electronic version of the classifieds board in your local supermarket. There are no selling fees to pay – but also very little in the way of financial protection, so use it carefully. See also Facebook Marketplace.
4. Take it Apart
Old computers soon lose their value – but the bits and pieces inside them could be useful to someone. So, if you're selling a PC that has a couple of years on the clock, consider dismantling it and selling the parts. Recoverable bits include RAM chips, drives, video cards, power transformers and the case. Even USB 2.0 and FireWire ports are saleable if you're willing to deal in small sums.
5. Deactivate software
Strictly speaking, most software licenses forbid resale. But then again, so do the terms and conditions inside books and CDs. One thing to look out for in this age of electronic activation though is to ensure you've deactivated and removed the software you intend to sell from your computer before you box it up and stick it on eBay. Failing to do so may prevent others from being able to install the software on their own machine.
6. Refurbish and gift
Here's a nice Christmas story: two weeks ago we found an eight year old Bondi Blue iMac in a skip. Got home, plugged it in and, presto, it worked. With minimal expenditure (on a new keyboard and mouse), some free software and an old printer, the machine is up, running and ready for our nephew's bedroom. Your old tech, suitably spruced up, could make a great gift for someone else – and a penny saved is a penny earned.
7. Think different
A couple of old hard drives from eBay bunged into an old PC, alongside the networking tools built into Windows, gives you a cheap alternative to a brand new NAS drive. Alternatively, a Freeview capable video card and a copy of open source software MediaPortal can turn an old PC into a digital TV recorder. It's money in your pocket.
8. Try Freecycle
If you can't sell or repurpose your old stuff – give it away. Freecycle helps you to hook up with people near to where you live who can use your old gear. You might even find some things that you need for free too. Handy when money's tight and there are Christmas gifts to find.
9. Be Charitable
It's the season of goodwill, so you why not collect kudos instead of cash? IT for Charities has a truly comprehensive list of organisations that accept free computers and peripherals. Alternatively, give Donate a PC a go. It's like Craig's List for charitable causes; matching technology donors with people who are most in need.
10. Dispose Carefully
But sometimes your old tech is so old that you can't even give it away. In that case, dispose of it carefully. The components in PCs, printers and other peripherals don't biodegrade – and old CRT monitors can be dangerous. You can find a list of companies that recycle old computers at Waste Online but your best bet is probably your local council.
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