traditional time for airing out your closets and getting
rid of all the clutter and stuff you no longer need is
from New Year to spring. They even have a name for it:
spring cleaning. Although, honestly, wouldn’t you
rather be outside doing fun spring stuff instead of
rummaging through dusty bins and junk drawers?
you carve out some time from your holiday schedule to
take a look at the technology you’re not using and
consider selling, donating, recycling or just tossing
what’s no longer needed. Yes, I know you’re busy.
But there are a number of good reasons to do it now. You
could pick up a little bit of holiday spending cash.
Your gently used tech items that you don’t need but
that others find precious make a good end-of-year
donation for people in need. And, if you think there are
some tech gifts waiting under the tree, it’s a good
time to make room for them in your digital life.
should you purge? If you’re like me, you might have a
closet full of old cables, barely-functioning USB
headsets and random adapters you’re keeping around
“just in case.” Who knows when you might need a
VGA-to-DVI monitor adapter for an emergency multimedia
presentation in your living room. What if you suddenly
need 10 USB thumb drives to distribute your one-person
multimedia show, “USB Or Bust” to the media?
say this clearly and please allow it to sink in (I’ll
do the same because I have this problem): “Just in
case” is never going to happen. And if it does, we
live in a world with two-hour Amazon shipping and Ebay.
You can find that weird adapter without too much
So let go
of these things. You’ll feel unburdened, I promise.
guru Marie Kondo famously asks you to examine items in
your life, from the contents of your sock drawer to your
keepsakes, and ask: “Does this object bring me joy?”
technology, it’s less about joy than about utility.
Does this object really have a use in your life? Is it
making your life easier or just taking up space? Would a
cheap upgrade to a better version of that item bring you
the questions you should ask as you examine your aging
tech products. A good rule of thumb: if you haven’t
used something in six months, it probably should be on
its way out of your life.
just a few items upon which you should be casting a
cables and adapters. If you don’t know what a power
cable or adapter is for, YOU DON’T NEED IT. Older
cables such as S-Video and Component should be purged
unless you need them for a specific gadget you’re
still using. My rule of thumb is to keep one kind of
each cable (USB, RCA, etc.) as a “just in case,” but
even that might be overkill. Any cable that’s frayed
or doesn’t work reliably should go. Keep HDMI cables
unless they’re not working properly.
tape decks and non-Blu-Ray DVD players. It’s a
cumbersome process to transfer old home videos and
cassettes to digital, but it’s got to be done
sometime. Those old tapes are only going to keep
degrading. There are local businesses such as Save Your
Tapes that will do it for you, or you can invest in a
gadget for transferring yourself (warning: this can be
very time consuming). If you’re not willing to let go
of your DVD collection, DVD players can be pretty
cheaply replaced with Blu-Ray players (they also play
regular DVDs) or even a 4K Ultra Blu-Ray player. These
newer devices can typically also can access Netflix,
Hulu and other streaming services.
game consoles. Unless you’re playing those games or
saving them for your kids, trade or sell them to a store
such as Game Over Videogames or donate them. A lot of
games from old consoles are readily available for newer
thumb drives and external hard drives. Transfer the
contents of smaller drives to one big one (and remember
to have a backup) or if you trust the cloud, keep the
bulk of your files there. Do a secure format of any old
storage media you plan to donate or if you’re
paranoid, just destroy the hard drive before sending it
to a recycling center. Storage is cheap and solid-state
drives are much faster than traditional hard drives. Old
drives age fast.
Slow and barely functional? Upgrade. But make sure to
clear out your data and de-authorize apps such as iTunes
that are used on multiple devices.
gadgets. Is your toaster barely functional and full of
crusty crumbs from the early 2000s? Don’t make cooking
any harder than it has to be; get rid of any kitchen
tools that are clinging to life.
software. There’s really no need to keep discs of old
versions of Windows or TurboTax 1998. Destroy or recycle
old installation discs.
broken or unusable. This goes for old TVs, cracked smart
phones or an old computer you think you’re going to
get fixed someday, but probably won’t. In most cases,
it costs more to fix a broken gadget than to just
replace it. Stop pretending you’re going to find a way
to repair your gadgets cheaply
If you’re a photography hobbyist, by all means hold on
to that gear. But if you’re like most of us and taking
most of your photos with your phone, you probably
don’t need an old point-and-shoot camera anymore.
not all about purging. Here are a few things you might
want to hold onto a little longer or use in a new way:
and tablets. Smartphones age really quickly through
software updates, but sometimes it’s worth hanging on
to a phone or tablet after you’ve upgraded. If you
have kids like me, a non-activated smartphone can make a
good internet device and music player. And some people
use an old phone or tablet as a smart home controller /
remote control or even an always-on security camera.
lines. Yes, we have cell phones, but if you work out of
your home and live in an area with poor cell reception,
a phone land line is probably a better solution than
relying on Skype and other internet services all the
monitors. Upgrading to a new monitor usually means
getting rid of the old one, but if you do a lot of
desktop work, having a second or even third monitor in
your home office can be a game-changer.
boxes. An old Roku or Apple TV might not be your best
option for family room viewing if you have a new 4K
television, but they can make a good option in a bedroom
or guest room, especially one not wired for
do with purged items
you have decided what should stay and what should go,
you have a lot of options on what to do when these
tech such as tablets and smart phones, the best first
option is probably to try selling or trading in if
you’re in the market for new gadgets. Gazelle,
NextWorth, Craigslist and Ebay are good places to start,
as well as more locally focused apps such as OfferUp,
Mercari, Letgo and even Facebook Marketplace. If
you’re selling to individuals instead of a company, be
prepared for flaky people, offers to trade and lowball
offers. But a little cash is still better than nothing.
your tech is always a good bet. Goodwill is usually my
go-to, although there are some local organizations such
as the Boys and Girls Club of Austin that are looking
for specific items such as lightly used desktop
computers, tablets and professional camera equipment. If
you keep track of donations for tax purposes, don’t
forget to ask for a receipt.
is always a much better option than just throwing your
old tech in the trash. Best Buy and Target are good
places to unload non-functioning phones, cameras, TVs,
old ink cartridges and some appliances.