Computers are getting faster every season, and many people are unsure of how to replace their systems? 10 or so years is a strong case for replacement, but some people switch computers within 2 or 3 years just because a new model comes out--or because the viruses they constantly get while misunderstanding the fact that replacing a system won't permanently "solve" a virus problem. If you have a source for computers from the 1990's to today, here are a few recycling points to keep in mind:

If the computers are from the 1980's or older, start looking for museums and interested buyers.

Get Gold Out Of Your Mind Now

One of the more disappointing get-rich schemes was scrapping gold from computers. It's fine to look for gold in any sources you can find if you already have a gold stockpile. You're not going to make useful money for the effort with scrapping computers for gold, and if you're starting your gold collection with computers, you're already losing money.

Gold is only found in trace amounts inside a computer. The point of gold in electronic components is to transfer information quickly, the information in electronics is in the form of electricity. Gold is a great conductor of electricity, and the traces and pins that transfer electricity are thin for a reason.

Transferring data means giving electricity a set path to travel as fast as possible. There are multiple lanes--sometimes smaller than the human eye can see--that go in a single direction at high speeds like a paper towel soaking up water.

If the gold traces are too big, that electricity will "soak" or spread across the entire gold piece, resulting in slower electricity movement from point A to B.

Commemorative or gimmicky computers such as solid gold iPhones or gold-inlaid desktops are not the norm and not an argument for gold scrapping in computers. That's just hunting gold creations in general, which is an entirely different business and hobby.

What's Worth Scrapping?

The big scrap materials inside computers are aluminum, copper, and rare earth magnets.

Aluminum is the most plentiful material, as the case, supporting framework, and many components are made from aluminum or with additional aluminum cases. Even if the computer is covered in a plastic outer case or mold, the inner case paneling is still made out of metal as a form of heat-resistant protection while still being lightweight.

Other big aluminum sources include the heat sink, which is usually a solid block of aluminum with fins used to transfer heat through absorption and air cooling. Some models may have smaller cores, but the fins are still plentiful enough for scrapping.

Devices such as hard drives, solid-state drives (an alternative to hard drives with no moving parts), and disc drives (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) all usually have aluminum cases which can be unscrewed. Also of note is the rare earth magnets inside hard drives, which can be scrapped or sold to hobbyists.

Copper is another heat sink material, giving you a big chunk of copper for your efforts. Copper heat sinks are usually found in customized computers or systems dedicated to gaming and graphic design as a higher-tier heat management system, but copper and connected aluminum/copper heat sinks are appearing in more systems.

Contact a scrap metal services professional, like those at Freedom Metals LLC, to discuss pay rates and current demand for computer recycling.