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 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.

If, once you’ve found a new use for your old hard drive, you’re keen to buy a new one, make sure you take advantage of our free delivery offer on items including hard drives in our shop. Hurry though – this offer ends on 31st March.

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.

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