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Use Recycled Parts to Repair and Upgrade Your Computer

written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/22/2011

Using recycled parts for computer repairs and upgrades is an ideal way to save money and save the planet. Find out where to get recycled computer parts and how to find instructions on installing them.

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    Overview of Recycling Computer Parts for Repairs and Upgrades

    Repairing and upgrading an old computer at home is a good way to add years to its useful lifecycle. However, brand new computer parts are often expensive. The manufacturing process to produce computer parts typically wastes resources and creates pollution. One way around this problem is to use recycled parts to repair and upgrade your computer. Often referred to as cannibalizing, the practice of recycling used computer parts for upgrades and repairs is often just as effective as using new parts. There are many quality parts available from many different sources. You just have to know where to look for them.

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    Best Places to Find Recycled Computer Parts for Repairs and Upgrades

    The best places to find used computer parts is on websites such as eBay and Craigslist. You may also be able to find some on Freecycle. However, you have to take care when using these websites to find used computers parts. On eBay, you have to check the seller's reputation before you buy any used computer parts from him. Does the seller offer a good return policy for recycled computer parts? Does he offer shipping insurance? Has he shipped recycled computer parts in the past? If so, when the buyer received them, were they in working condition? How did the seller package the recycled computer parts? Was the buyer satisfied with the purchase? When purchasing recycled computers and computer parts on Craigslist or getting them for free on Freecycle, you need to be more concerned with your own safety than the condition of the computer part. Meet with the other party in a public place, if possible. Also test the computer or part before taking it with you, if you can. If you can't, don't pay too much for the computer or the part. It's often worth taking an entire used computer when shopping on these sites, especially if the computer is made by the same manufacturer or is of the same or a similar model as yours.

    You may also be able to find some parts at your local used computer store. While these parts may be more expensive than parts purchased from individuals, they're usually in better condition and more convenient to buy. Used computer stores usually refurbish or recondition and offer a warranty for the parts they sell. Even if you have to pay a little more for your computer repair and upgrade parts, you'll still save money over purchasing the computer parts new.

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    Additional Sources of Recycled Computer Parts for Repairs and Upgrades

    Another source of recycled computer parts is friends and family. Often they are willing to give away an entire computer for free, simply because they don't need it anymore. If they do, consider taking the computer or taking parts from the computer, even if you don't need them right away. They may come in handy later. Monitors, CD and DVD drives, hard drives, floppy drives, sound and video cards and computer memory are all useful parts to recycle from an old, discarded computer. However, don't forget to take electronics screws and internal cables. They can save you time, money and a trip to the electronics store. For safety, always ground yourself on an unpainted part of the computer chassis before removing a computer part or installing the part in another computer. Store the recycled computer parts in anti-static bags or containers until you're ready to install them on your computer.

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    Installing Recycled Computer Parts to Repair and Upgrade Your Computer

    Upgrading and repairing your computer by installing recycled computer parts is typically the same as installing parts you bought off the shelf. However, keep in mind that in some cases you may actually be downgrading your computer when you use old computer parts. You also won't have a handy instruction manual for installation as you would if you installed brand new computer parts. To solve this problem, check the website of the manufacturer of your computer or of the recycled computer part. The chances are good that they will have specific instructions on how to install the recycled computer upgrade. If you can't find instructions on how to install the specific computer part, check a trusted computer website such as CNET for general instructions on installing that type of part.

    Also, never attempt to repair a broken computer part. It will probably be a waste of your time, and in some cases it could be dangerous. Instead, recycle the broken part and install another one, even if it means you have to downgrade. You can always replace the computer part with an upgrade part later on.

    These tips should help you get started doing computer repairs and upgrades at home with recycled parts. You'll save money, prevent waste of the Earth's resources and still end up with a much better computer.