Free Computers and Repairs

So, my friend who is at risk of losing her low-rent apartment after 25 years needs to replace her dying computer, but of course she has no money. None. And if my computer ever broke, I’d be in big trouble too, so it’s good to have this info on hand.

computer imageA quick online search turns up a dozen or so mostly local and sometimes global nonprofits that refurbish and give away older computers. Most, however, serve their local areas (or developing countries), and most give computers to schools and nonprofits, not to individuals for personal use.

Here are two listings of nonprofits that give free computers to individuals and organizations; some of the links are outdated and no longer work (the correct link for an important one is FreeGeek in Portland, Oregon), but they are worth a look anyway.

If a nonprofit gives away computers, it usually refurbishes them first, so you know it will work. Be aware that it might have a nonstandard operating system instead of Windows – so you might have to buy and install Windows, which is not easy or cheap – and sometimes it won’t have a modem for Internet access.

Here are a few articles with more leads – and also some broken links, fair warning; the last one offers a half-dozen good strategies individuals can use to find a free computer.

If all else fails, try Freecycle.org (search and register for your local chapter) and the Free Stuff section of your local Craigslist (usually in the For Sale section). When you go this route, be prepared to check the listings every day and be ready to pick it up on short notice. After all that trouble, there’s no guarantee that the computer will work!

Which brings me to the Free Computer Repairs segment of this post. The online search turned up less on this topic, but here are a few leads:

Good luck!

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