Recycle that Pentium
Besides boat anchor there are some good uses for old computers. Set up a dedicated screen saver machine. You load up your photos and set a screen saver to run continuously. Since you already own everything it is way cheaper than even the cheapest digital photo frame.
If you are feeling philanthropic, there are many lesser known local charities that provide computers for those who can’t afford them. Even a classic Pentium can run word processing but realistically if you have a Pentium 3 it is probably going to be of value for someone. I let my old clients know I will take their outdated computers and if they are over burdened with them, they will often deliver them to me. I always caution them that they should insure there is nothing on the hard drive that they value. It is a lot easier getting rid of the machines if there is an OS on them but even without an OS there are homes for these abandon machines.
I clean up the computers, often cannibalizing several to get enough memory and hard drive space to be of current use. If liability is of concern to you, it may make sense to clean off the hard drives yourself.
From PC World Archives author Lincoln Spector suggests to clean up specific files and the drive's free space, rely on Summit Computer's free Hard Disk Scrubber 2. To be extra cautious, check Heavy Scrub to write over the disk three times A more powerful option is Jetico's $40 BCWipe 3, which adds 5220.22-M support and cleans up unused space in the swap file.
To wipe the entire drive, Lincoln Spector of PC World, recommends LSoft Technologies' free Active@ KillDisk. The free version does a basic wipe, covering the drive with zeroes in one pass. Wiping takes lots and lots of time though. You can download the freeware version from http://www.killdisk.com/downloadfree.htm
I have cleaned and donated a couple of hundred computers over the years and have not had any issues yet. Note yet, so please cover your fanny if you are not sure of the disposition of the computer donor.
Use any hard drive erasing program with care, back in DOS days the plaintive wail of “you mean format c: lost all my stuff?” was heard way too frequently. These disk scrubbing programs do a much better job of getting rid of data.
If you have time on your hands and are relatively computer literate, you may find cleaning and donating computers to worthwhile causes, very satisfying. I know I do.
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