5 Ways to Deal with Obsolete Technology

5 Ways to Deal with Obsolete Technology

Just because something’s obsolete doesn’t mean it’s not useful.

In your spare time, there are plenty of fun things that you can do with old phones, tablets and laptops. At work, however, nobody is going to give you the time to turn your old BlackBerry into your coffee timer. But there are ways of taking that obsolete technology from around the office and turning it into something useful.

As we enter the new world of work, new technology is replacing old or “obsolete technology” at a remarkably quick rate, making the management of this technology an important element your business needs to consider – i.e. how and what should you do with it? Here are a few ways to manage that obsolete technology sitting around your office.


You know what draws a ton of battery power? Staying connected to email, messaging services, weather updates, news alerts and social networks.

You know what barely draws any power? A phone that just makes phone calls and sends text messages. If you have a newer, better device, you can strip down that old phone’s services to just the basics, and use it as your backup for dead batteries, water-logging, coverage problems or other scenarios. To keep a backup handy, you might need to remove the SIM card, if you have not done so already, to connect your new phone.

The best way to get the phone ready for its new subordinate role is to run it through a “factory reset,” usually found in the settings. That allows you to start fresh, and give the device no commitments to anything beyond what you need.


Once you’ve used a computer for long enough, you get a sense of “how to use it.” You have all the right plug-ins installed in your browser. You have all of the alerts you need set up. Everything runs smoothly when you start up.

But your older computers or obsolete technology should have as few apps as possible. And the apps it does have should respect its … artisanal approach to running software.

Browsers: Stick with Chrome, but do not install any plug-ins. On older Android phones, consider Boat or its Mini version.

Office files: You might need Microsoft Office installed on your main system to see and work on files. But on your old laptop, phone or browser, consider instead the speed and space-saving advantages of Google Drive with QuickOffice installed (for Android or iOS) for great compatibility and offline power. When you need to send an actual file out, use the File –> Download As menu offering to get an Office-compatible copy.

Email: Use whatever program works, but set your email to only refresh when you pull it up. Here’s how to do that for Apple devices. On Android, hit Settings –> Accounts & Sync –> Turn off syncing on Gmail. For laptops running Outlook, Thunderbird, Novell or other email clients, an option to automatically check email should be in the settings.

Everything else: Enter the product you think could be lighter & faster into AlternativeTo, which will show you all the programs, apps and tools that might replace your current gear.


If you actually own the obsolete technology you want to break up with, you can usually get a bit of cash for them, no matter how old. Generally, it will be less money than you hope, but more money than nothing. Just be sure to wipe out all data on it (“factory reset”), and remove the SIM card and battery before shipping.

The best trade-in or sell-back programs are:

  • Buyback program Excess Logic
  • Gazelle, which can give you a good starting price point for your device.
  • Amazon Electronics Trade-In, in case you’re like me and buy far too much on Amazon.
  • For a more hands-on selling negotiation, you can go the eBay or Craigslist route, or more specialized markets like Glyde or Swappa.


If IT, management, and anyone else who needs to give approval has signed off, and you would simply be glad to see something go, there is really no reason you can’t get your obsolete technology out the door responsibly.

You can recycle or donate obsolete electronics in our recycling center in Milpitas

Whether you want to walk, drive, or mail that device toward an eco-friendly end, you’ve got options. Some foundations take older computers and put them to use for those who can learn from them. Check with The Cristina Foundation and your local charities to see who is taking hardware.

If you’re looking for a recycling center, check out Earth911 – just be sure to call the venue first to confirm they take your device.

Some other recycling options:

  • Big box stores like Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot – Each offers electronics recycling and tend to be conveniently located.
  • Manufacturer or cellular carrier: These companies usually offer a trade-in or free recycling program you can utilize, either through mail or retail store drop-off. Apple will give you gift cards for things worth money, or recycle those things that are not quite cash-worthy.
  • The U.S. Postal Service also offers cashback options through MaxBack.


Maybe your technology is so old that you consider it retro, or perhaps you went through so much with it that you can’t really bear to let it go. For the nostalgic among us, you too have options. You can get really creative with keyboards, reuse circuit boards or turn a case into something clever. But even if you do nothing more than put a literal nail through your old phones or computer monitors to exorcize past demons, at least you did something with your obsolete technology.

Author Kevin Purdy

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