Server Equipment Recycling and Disposal

What to do with old servers?

This question often comes up regarding server equipment recycling. Typically, the need to recycle old servers can be the result of a refresh, update, or a data center decommissioning. As such, the server hardware can include any of the following:

  • Rack servers
  • Blade servers
  • Tower servers
  • Mainframe servers

Regardless of the type of server, though, there are several options available when it comes to recycling and disposal of IT equipment.

Server Recycling

The best option in hardware recycling is for the server to be kept in use. An example of this would be if the legacy equipment is still functioning properly, and can be used for its intended purpose. Case in point, perhaps a smaller company or organization would benefit from the old server.

Another available option in network equipment recycling is for the server to be broken down into its various components. Easily done, a hardware recycling company that is familiar with electronic waste can “harvest” server components such as:

  • Motherboard
  • Central Processing Unit (CPU)
  • Random Access Memory (RAM)
  • Hard drives
  • Power Supply

The disassembly of the server hardware is accomplished by trained technicians at the recycling center.

Once all of the old server parts are removed, the individual components are then sorted according to their destination.

By working with a list of reliable vendors, the recycling service can designate the best destination for the components. The receiving vendors are then able to complete the recycling process as part of their waste recycling operations.

Repurpose Server

The question of what to do with an old server can also be answered: repurpose the server.

Repurposing a server is another way to give servers a second life. As such, there are many uses for these old servers. 

Here are just a few options to consider:

  • Test Server
  • File/Print Server
  • Terminal Server
  • Firewall

Although there are additional ways to repurpose a server, the above list will give you a good start.’

Also, its important to remember that in this scenario, the server is still being used, as opposed to being thrown away. As we mentioned earlier, keeping server hardware in use is one of the best ways of recycling.

Secure Server Disposal

There are a few points to consider regarding the server disposal process.

Perhaps one of the most important is what is meant by the term secure server disposal. A secure disposal should include both protecting sensitive data (more on that below) and protecting the environment.

That being said, disposing of end-of-life servers and other data center equipment should not be confused with throwing it away. To clarify, a secure server disposal does not mean dumping electronic waste into the landfill.

On the contrary, proper disposal of any networking equipment should be done in an environmentally friendly manner. With this in mind, an old server disposal should be geared to maximize the reuse of the server parts. Most IT equipment recycling companies include disposal services as standard practice, and salvage as many parts as possible.

This earth friendly approach can be applied both to network devices as well as computer recycling.

Sensitive Data

Sensitive data is always a consideration when hardware recycling. Of particular concern is the data stored on the hard drives. As such, it is always best to check with your electronics recycler regarding their data destruction capabilities.

Typically, a recycling company will provide a data destruction service that will wipe or erase sensitive data from the hard drives. Another option of protecting data is the actual physical destruction of the hard drives. Industrial hard drive shredders are used to physically destroy the storage devices to the point that they are no longer usable.

Both data destruction and hard drive shredding are good options to protect your sensitive data.


As we noted above, there are various options available when it comes to what happens to old servers.

The need to recycle the servers could be the result of:

  • Updating an operating system
  • Data center closure
  • Asset disposition

Regardless the reason, the recycling of the hardware should be done in a manner that is earth friendly.

In addition, the recycling goal should be to either continue to use the server as intended, repurpose the server, or reuse the old server parts.

Ecycle Atlanta provides free server recycling for data centers, businesses, and other facilities. Schedule a free server recycling pickup here.

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