Collecting and Tossing the Hardware
This way of dealing with PCs can become more complicated if an employee works at home, but Rosen said he only could recall one incident where additional steps were taken to collect a PC. If an IT department decides to dispose of older PCs that no longer meet standards, Doug Washburn, an analyst with Forrester Research, said several companies offer recovery, recycling and disposal services. The companies include big-time players such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM and lesser-known but important asset recovery services companies such as Intechra and Redemtech.While IT departments are still responsible for making sure that all desktops and notebooks are properly accounted for, Washburn said these service providers can help with other aspects of cleaning up PCs, including wiping the hard disk drives clean of data and making sure hardware is disposed according to regulations set by the United States and European law.These IT service providers can also completely destroy PCs if there is a concern about security and data being compromised. "The benefit here is that when you are sourcing PCs or servers, you can tie into the contracts that these companies like HP and Dell will come and dispose of your PCs," said Washburn. "If you are buying thousands of PCs or servers from these organizations, they might give you a bit of a discount on the recovery aspect." These asset management providers can also provide a detailed inventory list that allows IT managers to see what is being disposed, and an administrator can check that list against the in-house PC inventory. Donated Desktops Another avenue open to IT departments looking to deal with unwanted PCs is charity. Paul Baltzell, a director of Distributed Services for the Indiana Office of Technology, said in the case of PCs owned by government agencies, older PCs that meet certain standards-desktops that use at least an Intel Pentium 4 processor, for example-can be fixed and donated to schools or other nonprofits. One bonus to donating PCs to charities is that enterprises that do so may be able to claim a tax credit. "If we have machines that are older and have not been refreshed just yet, we will send it out to our surplus department ... and if the computer is still in good shape, surplus will distribute it to the schools," said Baltzell. "I would say in a business case that a lot of these PCs can be donated and you can get a tax credit for it. That's definitely an option."