Salvaging people's "throw-away" stuff

I got a story to tell, one which always at the same time amuses me and wonders me too… :slight_smile:

So, I live close to a container park (a dumpster) which is located in a small village near me only a few kilometers away from my home. I accidentally discovered this place some years ago and been going to it virtually every Sunday. Throughout the years, it keeps amazing me what people throw away these days. I went yesterday again to see if I could salvage some “old stuff” from there and here are my findings…

  1. 120 GB SATA Maxtor disk with 8MB cache - status: perfectly in order
  2. 60 GB PATA WD disk with 2MB cache - status: perfectly in order
  3. ATi Radeon 9600XT AGP8x with 128MB - status: perfectly in order
  4. ATi Radeon 9800 AGP8x with 256MB - status: perfectly in order
  5. P4 @ 3 GHz - status: perfectly in order
  6. P4 @ 2.4 GHz - status: perfectly in order
  7. 2x 256MB DDR400 modules - status: perfectly in order
  8. 128MB DDR333 module - status: faulty at 120MB address

In the past I also have found another 120GB disk from Maxtor, same as above except a PATA one and I currently use it as my main disk on my desktop, a 80GB PATA Maxtor, 6x 80GB WD PATA disks, a Geforce 7900GT PCI-E card, a Geforce 6600 PCI-E card, various ATi cards, mostly from previous generation and countless other disks too which I won’t put in this list or it’ll make it pretty extensive, memory modules, working LCD monitors (latest a 22" one which works just fine), various soundcards, from older Creative AWE to X-FI ones, etc, etc

So I was thinking a bit and it really amazes me that people exist who throw away stuff that could be used for probably many years, especially the disks and CPUs. I got so much stuff lying around here that if I wanted to, I could probably build a small server farm at home. Granted, it’s not the latest greatest of technology, but all of the above is “good enough” for such things. I especially value the disks since I got a lot of video’s and having more storage is always a good thing for me. When I bring “new stuff” at home, I usually do extensive testing on it and throw away those that are not working or faulty

Moral of the story? I probably don’t have to spend $$$ on stuff as I can get it for free pretty easily. Yes, it’s not the newest tech but still can be used for many things. Even some of the GPUs (f.ex the GF7900GT) is powerful enough for most games today (not that I play many) and even the older ATi 9600XT/9800 ones will do for a lot of games…

We really live in a “throw-away” society these days and there’s so much thrown away despite of still being in perfect working state… It’s on one side sad to see such things happen but on the other side I’m sometimes happy it exists since I won’t have to spend $$$ much, especially on storage and CPUs :stuck_out_tongue:

Madness. :slight_smile:

I’ve been to computer auctions and seen functional systems sold for 5 quid. Monitors for a pound.

Often, I suppose, it’s just cheaper for an IT department to throw out everything and buy all new stuff, so they only have to train their low level IT minions and general staff on one system at a time. Perfectly serviceable equipment, which may be a few years old, becomes ‘a cost’.

If you know where to look, you can lead quite a decent life on the scraps of civilisation. Civilisation’s loss, I say.

Wombles of the World, Unite!

Well, this container park I go to is only for consumers, ie it is not allowed for firms to dump their disposed stuff there so everything I find there comes from normal people throwing it away. F.ex, the 120GB SATA disk apparently belonged to a guy who was into body building and had lots of pics and videos on it. He also studied on the KU Leuven as I saw his teaching documents and work assignments… Of course, it had a few pr0ns too and those are a nice addition to my collection :stuck_out_tongue:

The other 60GB WD disk came from a PC which apparently belonged to a girl student, also studying at KU Leuven. She had lots of pics of her friends (some of them smoking hot :P) and most of the other stuff was filled with music and some vids. It also contained saved MSN conversations she had with her friends. Since I’m not interested in their private data, except if there’s good music on it or a movie, I just reformat these disks so they be ready for when I need to put something on them… Oh, the guy that throw away the 120GB SATA disk had “The Ali G Movie - In Da House” on this disk so I took it since I don’t have it yet (and haven’t seen it also).

I imagine that if I go to another one, where firms dump their “old” electronics, I could find much more stuff I can still use, but atm I don’t know such a dumpster near me…

Some organizations, when the hardware gets “relatively” old (per the organization/corporate standard) will rather “throw out” hardware to some undisclosed location, rather than sell it or auction it off. The reason being the possibility of corruption/insider knowledge in the sell off or auction is too much of a pain for corporate IT management to deal with. So they simply wipe their hands of any old equipment, doing their best to ensure no one in the organization can possibly lay their hands on the old equipment.

That can some times explain the almost silly throw aways that can be found, IF one knows where to look.

Corporations, well a lot of them but not all, usually do disk scrubbing before throwing away unneeded disks in order to minimize possibility of recovering sensitive data. The container park I go to is only for consumers and you won’t find there batches of systems or disks thrown away, like in the 20-50 at a time or so. That’s why I always get disks with data on them and lots of private stuff. F.ex the 60GB disk I got came from an older Dell PC that when I opened it, still had everything in it (disk, DVD drive, memory modules, mobo, GPU card, etc). I’ve seen in the past a firm throw away many identical systems at a time in this park. Looking at those, it very fast became clear to me that the firm is/was involved in video surveillance and had a lot of video capture cards in these systems, each one with 8 channels input/output plugs. All these systems lacked disks so I guess the firm just kept them and threw away the rest of the systems. That’s the only firm I’ve seen throw away something in this particular park - I forgot the firm’s name though but recall all systems had it on them

Companies worry about “Health & Safety” regs, and being held accountable for what they pass on. So the easiest solution is to throw away or have crushed, rather than sell or give away.

rotfl!Wish some dumpster like that existed near my home also… That would surely save me a lot of $$$$ and I could then test a lot of things I am afraid of doing on my system (which I got after shelling out my hard earned money :’()…

Yep, I don’t just do it for taking stuff that works which I could use. The pleasure also comes from testing and fixing stuff. A year ago I found a Gigabyte mobo that was thrown away due to one single faulty capacitor so I took it home, replaced the capacitor and used the mobo for some time

Also, it’s not really a dumpster but a whole container park and the electronics area consists of big wooden craters where all is thrown in. Sometimes, I have to remove stuff on top to get to something that’s more deeper.

I live with a bunch of pack rats. People here have been threatened with eviction for hoarding so much junk that it’s led to safety and sanitary problems. The stuff on the list above would never reach the dumpster here. :slight_smile:

I’ve only ‘dumpster dived’ the once, and came back with a fully working Athlon XP / 512Mb DDR box with 60Gb disk.

It’s not cutting edge, but it’s fine for Linux … !


That’s good enough for a small server. The only thing I will add to such a system is more RAM

You lucky *******!!! The only thing I’ve ever gotten out of a dumpster here is a keyboard! BTW it works.

Well here in Canada there has been an enormous uproar about sensitive personal data showing up in the hands of general people even with rules about scrubbing hard drives. Police files,
Doctors patient records from clinics, hospital records, bank records, credit card records, and even military and government records have shown up in the most unusual places. It’s a big problem and growing exponentially.

Indeed, it’s becoming a problem. I guess there should be some standard way of scrubbing different types of storage devices. Like, f.ex, all storage devices need a “button” or something on them that when pushed, will scrub everything and one can safely throw it away. Of course, this does not guarantee all will be scrubbed when thrown away since it still depends on the person to push/activate this feature and some may just forget and throw it away with all the data still on it. This will also ease it for computer illiterate people who only use computers to do work and do not know enough about how stuff is stored on such devices, let alone go reformat a system’s hard disk. If disks and the likes had a “button” on them, they could easily activate it and scrub before throwing away. Since such a thing will be disastrous to one’s data, it should be implemented in a way that makes it very clear to the end user that once activated, there’s no going back and he’ll lose everything.

Like the SCSI-Safe drives of the 1980’s which had a jumper that once removed cause the drive to erase everything at next power-on. The drives were short lived as the jumper once removed couldn’t be replaced. Point is that people including busy IT people seldom spend time even removing hdd’s let alone wiping them. I know here the military and government are starting to use services similar to mobile shredder companies to come in and clear hdd’s and remove them for recycling. Even here, public tend to cry about tax dollars going to outside services to make these storage system safe. It’s a no win isn’t it?

I’m not sure whether this would work but maybe if you keep finding stuff, and you have it in excess you could start selling some of the things on ebay and other aucton websites llike that? You could make an extra buck or two! I suppose it depends on their condition though…

It’s possible. A lot of the stuff I find is in decent and working state and I’ve already sent out a few things to people on IRC without charging them anything (just payed for the transport costs myself). I do lots of stress testing on this stuff to make sure all is alright and working. If not, I just throw it away but I find more working stuff than broken one.

Or harvest the data… Start a detective agency. Sell it to Google… >:)

Our company swaps out systems every 2-3 years (though maybe longer now until we decide how to handle post-XP installations… they are NOT keen on going with Vista!) and part of that process is to run a hard disk scrubber that runs over it with random 1’s and 0’s. I think we do 3 passes each time.

Obviously, they do not include the OS which of course is no matter for me :slight_smile:

I’m waiting for one of the laptops to come up for “raffle”.

I’ve also gotten a number of computers from a friend who’s company was just giving away systems after the service agreement was over because it was cheaper to replace than to spend for their IT people to get this older technology running again. I’ve gotten 2 laptops from him this way (pent M 1.4GHz Dell D400 and pent M 1.3 GHz Thinkpad) as well as a number of desktops (Dell Dimension 4100s and GX110s).

So far, the last computer I’ve actually bought was in 2000. The rest have been toss-aways and such. Running Linux makes this a lot easier to accept because it runs on so many systems and I don’t have to worry about legal complications regarding licenses.

oh yeah… imma rip off all those n00bs for hard cold ca$h by selling their private stuff >:) rotfl!