Getty Images

DCL

We've already covered how to determine if you should repair or recycle your computer, but what if you decide to upgrade while your old one is still in good working order? Donating it to an organization or individual who can still use it gets high green marks-no reason to recycle it while it still works-but there are a few things you'll want to take care of, first.

Before getting started, find a place to donate it, if you aren't giving it away to your sister or neighbor. It's usually best to send it to a refurbisher, especially if you need to wipe your hard drive, or are uncertain about the computer's condition. Refurbishers will ensure that equipment they send to nonprofits and schools works well and runs legal copies of software, and that any e-waste is disposed of properly. Computers with Causes and Recycles.org are two solid choices.If you are donating hardware with a preinstalled Microsoft operating system, keep in mind that the license is only valid when used with the machine on which it was originally installed. Since charitable organizations usually cannot afford to purchase and license new operating systems, a legal transfer (whereby the computer and operating system stay together) is the way to go.

And, to ensure that the software transfer is legal, pass along the original disks, media, Certificate of Authenticity sticker (usually on the computer), user manual, and other documentation that came with the equipment.

You don't want to leave anything important to you-such as personal information and documents-on the computer though, so be sure to use some disk-cleaning software to clear out your browser's cache, cookies, history; your e-mail contacts and messages; your documents; your recycle or trash folder; and all nontransferable software. Techsoup has a list of freeware that'll do the job.

Lastly, don't forget that your donation is tax-deductible, so keep records of what you donate and don't forget to ask for a tax receipt so you can deduct the current market value of your old computer. Happy donating! ::Techsoup

See also: ::Avoid Hazardous Materials, But an EPEAT-registered PC and ::Choose an Energy-Efficient Power Supply

Difficulty level: Easy