What is my computer worth?

Don’t invest in computer hardware like you would real estate.

So what is your computer worth? A few years after you buy your computer not much. Buy it to use it. Computer equipment loses value at roughly 2% per week. What does this mean to you? What you purchase today is worth 2% less this week, 2% less of that total next week, etc.

If you paid $1000 for a computer today, next year it will be worth $300 and the year after that $100. Three years from the date of purchase, it is worth about $30. This “back-of-the-envelope calculation” is close, but not exact.

Desktop computers have lost most value in the past few years and laptops have maintained the most as many people have moved to portable computers.

What produces this devaluation?

  • Faster processors, larger hard drives and less expensive memory coming out each year. Three years ago the hottest computers were P3 933mhz computers. Now, the hottest computers are close to 4Ghz. One can be sure there is a faster processor around the bend.
  • New computers being produced for less money. Most computer manufacturing is accomplished in Asia where labor costs are extraordinarily low. A basic new computer five years ago was $1500. Now, one can buy a new computer for $400 - $700.
  • Oversupply in the used market. Company shut downs, IT departments phasing out equipment faster and more efficiently and large reorganizations in the past few years have flooded the used market.

How do I get a valuation? How can I get it valued or find its pricing?

  • Try eBay. The best way to find its value or to get a quick valuation is to log on to eBay. Closed prices of what has been sold is easily attainable by selecting closed prices. Search on your Make and Model number. You will find a list of comparable items. Sort by highest price and read the green (items that have sold) and you will be able to attain a fair market valuation.
  • Pricing. If you choose to sell your computer or laptop on eBay, keep in mind that fixed pricing receives higher pricing than auction pricing. Price your laptop at the mid-range of all the fixed priced listings that you may have seen on eBay.

How do I sell my computer?

What is the difference between value and recovery?

Worth means that if you spent the time to prepare it for sale – moved it out of the office, cataloged it, wiped the hard drive, found a box in which to ship it, advertised the sale, warranted it, answered technical support questions as the sale went forward, etc., you can recover the market worth. If you are not willing to do this work, figure on recovering about 30-40% of the market value of the equipment less the cost of the move.

Example: 10 computers and monitors purchased for $10000 total at time zero. After two years, you phase out this equipment. Estimated total worth of the equipment is now $1000. If you do not want to sell the equipment yourself, you may recover about $300 to $400 less the cost of moving the equipment. The difference between worth and recovery is the cost to move, sell, and advertise all this equipment.

If you are a home user, the challenge is the same. Most home (non-game) users can accept a slower computer for about three years - a year longer than most corporations. Even home users upgrade and spend the money.

How about donating the equipment for a tax write-off?

While your computer may have some value, you may judge the effort to get it too high for the reward. However, donating is one of the most expensive routes you can take to liquidate your computer equipment. Here is why:

  • You will still have to wipe the hard drives: Most likely you will not want to donate computers with software licenses and proprietary information. Allocate at least an hour of time per computer.
  • You will still have to find a suitable charity or school: Plan on a few hours for making the phone calls.
  • You will still have to catalog the items you wish to donate: While some schools and charity organizations will accept any equipment, most are very selective about the equipment they accept. Monitors, because of their EPA liability, are generally no longer accepted by most organizations. Do not be surprised when you call a school to hear: “we are only accepting computers less than a year old.”
  • You may have to pay for moving the equipment: You will need to allocate time and money to find a mover to take the equipment from your office and move it to the organization accepting your old equipment.
  • You will have to accomplish paperwork to protect yourself: You will need to draft and get signed paperwork stating that the organization accepts the equipment with all the rights and privileges and costs that go with ownership. You must protect yourself from any potential EPA issue should the organization improperly dispose of the equipment you donate.

Selling to employees, selling to another firm or giving away to friends are all similar to the donation option and may likely include the cost of providing technical support as well.

Let’s just put in in the garage or lock it in storage.

75% of all firms nationwide lock their surplus computer equipment into storage. While this temporarily “solves” all the above costs, it raises the future disposal costs, does not eliminate the wiping costs, eliminates almost any significant recovery value and increases your moving and storage costs.

If you use a computer at home, chances are you have at least one piece of equipment in the garage such as an old monitor. Millions of monitors, old computers, and old printers await disposal in homes throughout the United States. Tragically, many of these will end up in land fills as owners do not spend time to manage the disposal.

The same issue of disposal faces any business as the equipment ages in storage or ages in use. Eventually, it will have to be sold or disposed in some fashion.

What can a computer liquidator do for you?

A good computer liquidator will eliminate many of the issues surrounding the costs of liquidating computer equipment:

  • Offer a fair price for the equipment. If it’s relatively new and shipped after you accomplish an upgrade, you will receive the most recovery.
  • Remove equipment from your site in a timely manner. Looking at old equipment in an office after an upgrade is not exciting. Andover, for example, can remove equipment in as short a period as hours.
  • Wipe important data from your hard drive. Ultimately, the safest way to remove data from a hard drive is to shred the hard drive. This is the most expensive method to secure information and this cost to perform this service will come out of the value of your equipment. Most firms opt to have the hard drive wiped to a standard that makes recovery possible by only those with very sophisticated recovery equipment.
  • Destroy very old and unusable equipment in order with EPA standards. This is an important service a good liquidator can perform. Although much of the equipment you liquidate may be worth reselling, some will have to be recycled. A liquidator should have the knowledge and contacts to mange this issue.

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