What to do with a laptop that no longer works?

If your laptop is no longer functioning properly, you have several options for what to do with it. Here are some quick answers to common questions about dealing with a broken laptop:

Should I try to fix my broken laptop?

If the issue seems minor, like a software glitch or mechanical failure, it may be worth trying to fix it yourself or take it to a repair shop. Replacing inexpensive parts can often extend the life of a laptop.

When is it time to replace my laptop?

If the laptop is very old, repairs would be expensive, or you use it for important/work tasks, it may be best to replace it with a new one. New laptops have faster performance and longer battery life.

What should I do with my old laptop?

If it still powers on, you may be able to wipe the data and sell or donate the laptop so someone else can use it. Otherwise, you can recycle it or sell it for scrap parts.

Can I sell my broken laptop?

Yes, you can sell a broken laptop to computer recyclers or on sites like eBay as-is for spare parts. Be upfront about what is not working when selling it.

How can I safely dispose of my old laptop?

Take it to an electronics recycling center or use a tech recycling service so hazardous materials are disposed of properly. Some manufacturers and retailers also accept old devices for recycling.

Assessing if Your Laptop Can Be Repaired

If your laptop is having issues, deciding whether it’s worth fixing depends on several factors:

Age of the Laptop

Older laptops may not be worth expensive repairs, as replacement parts can be hard to find and the machine is outdated. Laptops over 5 years old are often not worth fixing unless the issue is minor.

Cost of Repairs

Compare the price of repairs at a shop to the cost of a new laptop. Repairs over $200-300 could indicate it’s time for a new device instead.

Cause of the Problem

If it’s a simple software issue, fixing it yourself may be the best option. Hardware issues like a broken screen are tougher and may require a professional.

Your Laptop Usage

Those who rely on their laptop for work or school may want to invest in repairs to avoid disruption. For casual users, replacement may be better.

Availability of Parts

Manufacturers support replacements for around 5 years. If your model is discontinued, finding parts could be difficult or impossible.

Problem Repairable?
Won’t turn on Maybe – if issue is minor like RAM
Cracked screen Yes, but often expensive
Key fell off Yes, easy fix
Battery died Yes, simple replacement
Motherboard failure Rarely, requires full replacement

This table shows some common laptop issues and whether they are realistically repairable. Minor issues like keyboard keys or batteries can usually be fixed, while major issues like motherboard failure are often beyond repair.

Repairing a Damaged Laptop

If you determine your laptop’s issue is minor enough to be fixed affordably, here are some tips for completing repairs yourself or finding professional help:

Basic Troubleshooting

First try basic troubleshooting steps like restarting, updating drivers, or reinstalling the OS. This can resolve many minor software issues.

Order Replacement Parts

For physical damage like cracked screens, you can often order replacement parts online for $50-200 and follow repair tutorials.

Use Authorized Repair Shops

Take advantage of warranty coverage and manufacturer authorized repair shops when possible to ensure qualified technicians and official parts.

Find Independent Repair Shops

Search for well-reviewed local repair shops for affordable fixes if the warranty is expired.

Consider DIY Repairs

Watch online repair videos to fix issues like storage upgrades yourself. Only attempt DIY repairs you are confident handling.

Back Up Your Data

Before any repairs, be sure to fully back up your laptop’s data in case anything goes wrong or it cannot be fixed.

Know When to Quit

If repair costs exceed 50-60% of the price of a comparable new laptop, it likely makes more sense to put that money toward a replacement.

Alternatives If Your Laptop Can’t Be Fixed

If you determine your broken laptop isn’t worth repairing, you have some options to either recycle it responsibly or get some value back:

Trade It In

Many retailers offer trade-in programs where you can get credit for old devices when buying a replacement. This nets you some money and ensures responsible recycling.

Sell It For Parts

List your laptop model on sites like eBay as-is for parts and make a few extra dollars. Be upfront about what issues it has.

Donate It

Some charities accept old electronics donations and will refurbish working devices or properly recycle unusable ones.

Recycle It

Take your laptop to an e-waste recycling center so hazardous materials inside are safely disposed of and metals can be reclaimed.

Keep It As A Backup

If it powers on, you can wipe the laptop and keep it as an emergency spare in case your main device ever fails.

Selling Your Old Laptop

If you decide to sell your used, broken laptop for spare parts, there are some best practices to get the best price:

Reset to Factory Settings

Fully wipe your laptop’s data and reset it to factory conditions before selling so no personal information remains.

List Detailed Specs

Include the laptop’s model, CPU, RAM, storage, and any notable features to help buyers determine if it has parts they need.

Note Exact Issues

Specify exactly what is and isn’t working, like battery condition, screen problems, or software issues.

Take Clear Photos

Get high quality pictures of the exterior, screen, ports, and any damage to accurately represent the laptop’s condition.

Learn Fair Market Value

Research completed eBay listings and computer recycler quotes to decide on a competitive asking price.

Offer Returns

Consider allowing returns within 7-14 days in case the laptop isn’t as described, to give buyers peace of mind.

Donating or Recycling an Old Laptop

If you don’t want to deal with selling your unusable laptop yourself, donating or recycling are good options that keep devices out of landfills.

Charitable Donations

Many non-profits accept old electronics either for resale or recycling. This lets them raise money and dispose of e-waste responsibly.

Manufacturer Takeback Programs

Some laptop brands like HP and Dell have mail-in recycling programs to get your old devices to proper e-waste facilities.

Electronics or Community Recyclers

Check for nearby recyclers that securely destroy data and handle e-waste according to environmental regulations.

Retailer Takeback

Major retailers like Best Buy offer to take back and recycle old electronics with the purchase of a new device.

Specialized Recycling for Batteries

Lithium-ion laptop batteries require special handling. Take them to a battery recycler or hazardous waste facility.

Data Destruction

If concerned about personal data, use a drive shredder utility or physically destroy any storage drives before recycling the laptop.

Reusing Salvaged Laptop Parts

With some basic skills, you can extend the life of laptop parts by reusing them:


RAM sticks from old laptops can often be reused in desktops or newer laptops, if they share compatible types like DDR3 or DDR4.

Storage Drives

Hard disk and SSD drives can be externally connected via USB to recover data or serve as backup storage.


Cracked screens can be difficult to reuse, but intact LCD panels may be compatible with newer replacement parts.

Extra Batteries

Test old laptop batteries and use ones still holding a charge as spares for other compatible models.


Keyboards, mice, chargers and some other parts can be used as replacement parts or backups if the connections match.

Spare Parts

Fans, cables, screws and minor parts can serve as replacements for repairing similar laptop models.

Craft Projects

Keyboard keys, circuit boards and other decorative parts can be reused creatively in DIY craft projects.

Disposing of e-Waste Properly

It’s important to recycle laptops and other electronics instead of throwing them in the trash. Here’s why:

Save Landfill Space

Recycling reduces the amount of e-waste taking up landfill space, as reclaimed materials can be reused.

Prevent Hazardous Waste

Toxins like lead and mercury inside electronics can contaminate groundwater if discarded improperly.

Allow Recovery of Valuable Materials

Recycling enables the reclamation of useful metals like gold, copper and aluminum for new products.

Stop Illegal Dumping

Proper recycling means these hazardous materials won’t be illegally exported or dumped in developing countries.

Comply With Laws

Many states ban the disposal of e-waste in landfills. Recycling correctly adheres to local laws.

Save Energy

Extracting virgin metals consumes more energy than obtaining materials through recycling.

Quick Laptop Recycling Checklist

Here are some tips for easily and responsibly recycling an unwanted laptop:

Back Up Any Data

Copy any important files or photos on the laptop to external storage before wiping it.

Erase and Reset the Laptop

Use a factory reset or drive wiping utility to delete all personal information.

Remove the Battery

Take out the battery for separate battery recycling if possible.

Find Drop-Off Locations

Search for nearby e-waste recycling drop-off spots or local recycling events.

Mail It In

Check for prepaid recycling labels from retailers or manufacturers to easily send it.

Bring All Components

Recycle laptop accessories like chargers, mice and keyboards at the same time.

Get a Receipt

Request documentation from the recycler to ensure your device was properly handled.

Consider Data Destruction

For sensitive data, have the drive physically destroyed prior to recycling.


Trying to repair or finding new homes for out-of-use laptops is often better for both the environment and your wallet than simply trashing them. With some due diligence, you can extend your laptop’s lifespan, recover some value back, or ensure it is recycled responsibly. Just be sure to back up your data and properly sanitize the device before passing it along or recycling it.