How to reuse and recycle your old hard drive

Ever since the dawn of personal computing in the early eighties, the cost of data storage has been steadily decreasing. The first consumer hard drives cost thousands of pounds, and stored only a couple of megabytes, yet now most hard drives cost less than £100 for hundreds of gigabytes of storage space.

Whether it’s internal or external storage, both small businesses and consumers have at least a couple of spare hard drives lying around. Storage is now so cheap that it’s an easy and cost effective way to improve the functionality of an existing computer. Unlike other computer components, such as an old, slow processor or an old RAM module, old hard drives are still useful. While they may not have as much storage space as newer models, that space can still be put to good use. We’ve listed below a few of our favourite uses for old hard drives.

  • DIY – Starting off with the simplest suggestion, why not turn your old hard drive into a drinks coaster to protect your desk? All you have to do is take the hard drive out of its enclosure to get to the HDD platters inside. Then just add a couple of sticky feet to the bottom to stop it sliding around, and you’re done. (NB – some laptop hard drives are made of glass rather than metal, and will crack if they come into contact with a hot drink, so be careful).
  • Network storage – As this great article on TechRadar.com explains, another alternative is to turn a number of old hard drives into a networked attached storage (NAS) system, with the individual drives working together to provide redundancy in case one of them fails (which can be a risk with older drives). Whether you decide to go down the DIY route on the TechRadar article, or simply put the old drives into a new NAS enclosure, you can easily create a way to share files from a single location over a local area network.
  • Donate to charity – If you’ve seen our previous posts about upgrading your processor and building a new PC, then you’ll know that building a computer can be a straightforward process, and hopefully you’ll also have some spare components lying around. Why not create a new computer using spare components, install a free OS on it such as Linux Ubuntu, and donate it to a worthy cause, such as a local school? Don’t forget to wipe all of your personal data off the drives first though. Try Boot and Nuke or File Shredder.
  • Recycle – If you have any broken hard drives, or they’re simply too small and old to be of any use, then your main option is to recycle them. Hard drives are full of important metals that can be reused in the technology manufacturing process, so there are many firms that will recycle them safely for you. We also have our own service that safely and securely disposes of your hardware for you.

Did you like our suggestions? Do you think you’ll put any of them into practice in your business? Maybe you’ve got some suggestions of your own that you’d like to share with us? Why not let us know in the comments below.

Upgrading your processor in eight easy steps

Faster and more efficient computers often come at the top of the priority list for most business owners, as well as their employees. The businesses benefits are clear; computers that can cope with complex applications and multi-tasking are going to make a business more efficient.

Compared to the cost of a complete system refresh, installing a new processor can be a cost effective way to update an older machine. Coupled with a straightforward RAM upgrade, it can be like having a whole new system. The process of adding a new processor is actually relatively simple, and can be boiled down into eight steps. You can also get help every step of the way through Intel’s support site, allowing everyone to take advantage of technology like the Intel Core i5, which is available in our shop.

Preparation

  1. Before doing anything, check that your motherboard is compatible with the processor you are interested in. Intel has created a handy Processors and Boards Compatibility Tool to help with this. Bear in mind that you may need to update your motherboard’s BIOS to work with newer processors like the Intel Core i5.
  2. Once you’ve ordered and received your processor, you’re ready to begin. As we’ve mentioned before in our guide to building a PC from scratch, don’t forget to wear your antistatic wristband when handling any components and make sure to earth yourself on a nearby radiator too.
  3. Find a clean table to work from, and take the side off the PC case to expose the motherboard. You may need to remove a couple of PCI cards in order to get unobstructed access to the processor, but it will depend on your system set up.

Installation

  1. Now you’re ready to begin. To gain access to the old processor, you need to open the processor socket. Disengage the load lever by gently pushing it down and away from the socket, then rotate it backwards to the open position. Then rotate the load plate back to the open position. Remove the old processor by holding it along the top and bottom edge and lifting vertically to avoid damaging the socket contacts.
  2. Gently hold the new processor along the top and bottom edges, paying attention to the two keyring notches on either side of the processor and the connector one indicator in the bottom left corner. Gently place the new processor into the socket in one smooth vertical motion, aligning the keyring features with the keyring posts.
  3. Once in place, you can then close the socket.  Lower the load plate, making sure that the load plate’s front edge slides under the screw cap. Then lower the load lever, clipping it into place on the corner of the socket.
  4. For those of you using a fan heatsink, it can be installed by positioning it over the processor, aligning the fasteners with the motherboard through holes. Push down with your thumb on the fastener caps to install and lock, moving diagonally from corner to corner.
  5. Then connect the heatsink’s power supply by connecting it to the motherboard CPU header. You can now put the side back on the case and set the PC up – you’re now done!

If you need any help with setting this up, Intel also has a step-by-step guide to the installation process. Take a look through the steps above, and if you want any help or advice, please get in touch with our It Specialists on 0370 429 3010.