It’s quite common for companies to donate their old technology – particularly their computers – once they’ve replaced them. Often their desire is motivated by tax advantages or philanthropic reasons. Yet, even in their desire to do something so generous it’s important to remember that donating used technology is a good thing only if there is still value in the systems that are to be donated. And, let’s not forget that most companies will need to ensure there is no company data on the systems before they donate them.
How to Donate
There is an inherent risk in donating computers for any company. As such, the trick is to balance out the risk for the company with the value provided to the organization receiving the computers. Not always an easy thing to do, however, here are 3 common ways to donate – each providing a varying balance between risk and value.
- Remove the hard drive prior to donating the computers. This presents licensing and “usability” issues for the organization receiving the computers, but it definitively protects the company. This method presents very little risk, but provides limited value, as well, because the operating system and any other software that came on the computer (such as Microsoft Office) are now gone.
- “Clean” the systems. There are multiple software packages that can aid in this process using one of them is probably the most efficient way to prepare the systems for donation. The downside here is that there is that preparing the systems can require a fair amount of prep time.
- Reimage the systems. This is really nothing more than a highly-secure way to clean the systems, however, it can be pretty labor intensive – especially if you don’t have an image already or you are working with systems that have different hardware. An excellent approach if you can stomach the preparation time/expense.
From a practical standpoint, it may be an option to manually remove some data and donate the systems without being certain all the data was removed. This is often an option for companies that are in non-regulated industries who have an existing, strong relationship with a nonprofit. Of course, as an IT provider we can never recommend this approach and obviously, if your company is in a regulated industry (legal, medical, insurance, etc.) this isn’t an option. Ultimately, the best thing to remember is that donating systems that are in bad shape doesn’t help anyone. And that before you decide to donate, consider the costs and value of doing so.