Below are some commonly asked questions about donating hardware to the ColaLUG. If you don't see your question here, please contact us.
Q: What do these donated computers get used for?
A: We concentrate on charitable uses in the Midlands of S.C. area. The majority of the computers we re-purpose are donated to one of two purposes:
- Community centers in economically depressed areas. These computers are set up for public access by people in the community that are served by that community center.
Sistercare, a Midlands organization offering protection for domestic abuse victims and their children. The computers are used by the Sistercare clients for furthering their education, or for on-line job training. Also they are used by the clients' children for school work.
We load a suite of educational software on the computers which covers topics from pre-school through college. We also load an office suite of software so that the users can work with documents, spreadsheets or presentations.
The reason we concentrate on the Midlands area is two-fold. First off, there is the matter of distance. We are a volunteer group and any travel expenses come out of the pocket of our members, and also there are other groups similar to ours that work with the upstate and the lowcountry areas of S.C.
Q: I would like to donate my old computer. What do you need to know?
A: We are forced to be a bit picky about the computers we accept because it just costs us time, money and wasted effort to receive a computer that we are unable to use, and then end up with something that we have to properly dispose of. And because we are a volunteer group, any such expenses are out-of-pocket for whoever handles it.
First-off, except in unusual cases, we must have computers that are mechanically and electrically working when given to us. (Many that aren't working have problems that make it impractical to repair them.) Note that if your computer has a software problem that prevents it from working (such as a virus or spyware), then that is not a problem for us, since we will be wiping out all information on the computer, the virus or spyware will be wiped out along with everything else.
- In general, if the computer originally had Windows XP or later on it, then we almost certainly can use it. Higher-end (usually commercial) Windows-2000 computers will usually work fine. Lower-end Windows-2000 and anything prior to that such as Windows-98 or Windows ME, will likely not be usable for our program. But if you know the specifications of your computer and feel that it would be useful to us, please feel free to contact us about it.
Because we sometimes receive computers that have no hard drive, even if the other specifications of your computer are below what we ask for, but it has a large enough hard drive (minimum 10 GB, 20 GB preferred), we may accept it to get the hard drive out of it (or you can donate just the drive if you like.)
- Ideally, we would like computers that have 2 GHz or faster processors, 512 MB RAM, and a 20GB or larger hard drive. That is our ideal donation, but we can make good use of a computer that has a slower processor and less RAM (we usually have to add RAM to these).
Q: My computer fits your requirements for re-purposing. How can I get it to you?
A: We have several options for getting your donated computer to us.
First, why not come to a ColaLUG meeting?! Bring the computer you would like to donate and stay for the meeting. We meet the second Thursday of every month. Check the Frontpage for more dates and the location.
If you can't make it to a meeting, please contact us at donations (at) colalug.org. We can either arrange for you to drop it off or we can have a member who is nearby come and pick it up.
Q: What about the data on my computer? I am concerned about my personal information.
A: For every computer we receive, we will completely erase the hard drive using a military-class data-wiping software. This completely erases everything on the hard drive. There is nothing remaining after this, not Windows, not the recycle bin, not even the left-over bits of erased files you sometimes hear about. And after the hard drive is erased, we will install an entirely different operating system on it (Linux), which will over-write the hard disk yet again. If this assurance is still not enough to make you comfortable, we will accept computers that have the hard drives removed, but, of course, we prefer to have the hard drive included. If you arrange a pick-up or drop-off, we can even coordinate with you to remove the hard drive in your presence and hand it to you.
Q: Do you want/will you accept old printers?
A: We will accept printers if they are in working condition. But even if the printer only needs toner/ink in order to work, we have no budget to purchase that.
Q: My computer is too broken/too old to be re-purposed. Where can I safely dispose of them?
A: Many recycling centers around the Midlands area accepts all sorts of electronics for recycling. A good place to start is Keep The Midlands Beautiful or SC DHEC E-cycle website
Q: I/my organization would like a re-purposed Linux system. What do I need to do?
A: We will be happy to assist you. There's no point in us collecting and re-purposing these computers without someone to give them to! The computers get the Linux operating system loaded on them rather than Windows. If you are not familiar with Linux, many people find it to be similar to the Apple Mac operating software. We will include a complete office suite of software (Open Office) which is compatible with Microsoft Office. We can also load educational software appropriate to your needs. When we bring the computer to you, we can spend a bit of time to get you up and running, but because we are a volunteer organization, we don't have the manpower or resources to continue offering technical support afterwards, although we will try to help answer questions or at least point you to online resources where you can find answers. If you have a need for a donated computer, please contact us at donations (at) colalug.org.