Last Updated:
Vintage IBM 5150 PC

Where to Find Old Computers for Free or Cheap

Computers are amazing pieces of technology. It is amazing to realize that you can do such much by pushing electrons around. Something so cool doesn't deserve to die in a landfill. Here are some places to find old computers before they end up as trash.

Why you would want an old computer?

I think the question should be why wouldn't you want an old computer. Here are just a few reason off the top of my head:

Keep Other Computers Running

Up until recently, the U.S. military still used 8" floppy drives for their nuclear silos. You may not have a need as great as that, but still, old computers can be parted out to keep other systems running.

Reduce Waste

These machines can still have a lot of life left in them. While they may not be appropriate for your daily driver, they can run other processes and still be valuable. Here are a couple of uses for old computers:

  • Retro Gaming Rig
  • Home Media Server
  • Testbed for Linux or other OSes
  • Backup Computer
  • Starter PC for kids
  • Garage or Kitchen computer

Where Can I find Old Computers?


TRS 80 microcomputer
Thrift Stores

Thrift stores work well since people will donate their old belongings to these places so others can buy them. Depending on the thrift stores you go to and their policies, you may find one that will sell old pieces of technology, which can include the computer models you want to find. This way, you can easily stop by and check out their selection.

If you want to check out your local thrift stores, you should consider giving them a call first. Make sure they carry old computers since these devices are large, so certain thrift stores may not have enough room for them. If your local stores carry them, then you can swing by and check them out when you have time.

Estate Sales

Many areas will have estate sales based on the circumstances of the person living there. If you notice an estate sale in your area, you should go to it and see if you can find any old computers there. After all, people want to sell off their old belongings and some of them may have old computers they no longer want.

It never hurts to look into estate sales so you can contact those in charge of it. From here, you can find out if they have any old computers you may be interested in. After all, many estate sales are for older people or they are ran by relatives looking to get rid of those belongings, so it wouldn't hurt to see if there's any old computers.

Flea Markets

Flea markets are also excellent options if you want to find old computers in your area. Remember that people use flea markets as a way to sell anything they don't want to use anymore, so you can always see what people are selling there. Just spend some time walking through the different booths to see what the vendors have available.

Keep in mind that flea markets may not have what you're looking for. However, you can easily glance through the vendors to see if anyone is selling old computers you want to purchase. So even though you may not find anything, it will be easy for you to check and see if the vendors have anything that interests you.

Craigslist / Facebook Marketplace

Craigslist is an interesting option since you can find your region and look through the postings people put on it. Craigslist has a simple system where you can look through the different topics and even search for specific information that you want. This way, you can easily find something you want to purchase on the site.

Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace work well because you can find old computers in your area, which makes it easier for you to pick up and buy those products. You can also see the listed prices for old computers and parts which allows you to easily find a deal that works for your situation.

Put the Word Out

If you want to find an old computer, you need to let others know about it. Doing so allows those people to keep their eyes open for those products so they can inform you if they see something. You can do this as you communicate with your friends and family to inform them about the old computers you want to get.

You can take it a step further by making posting about it on social media so your other friends can keep you informed about any old computers. You could also use bulletin boards to let people know that you want to buy these old computers which could lead to someone calling and telling you about one.

Give Business Cards to Antique Stores and People That Buy Storage Lockers

If you want to further expand your old computer network, you should give your business cards to antique stores. This way, when those antique stores get any old computers in, they can give you a call so you can check those computers out. If they have your business card, then they can call you when something interesting comes into the store.

You should also give your business cards to people that like to buy storage lockers. You may not have time to visit storage lockers and bid on them, but you can talk with people that do. When you give them your business card, you should tell them that you will purchase old computers for a good amount of money if they find something you want.

School Sales

Many people will overlook school sales since those people will assume that they can only get desks or chairs from those sales. However, schools can be wonderful resources if you want to get old computers. After all, schools only update their technology when they have the budget to do so, which means that many of them will have old computers for sale.

Schools are a gold mine if you want to buy old computer models. Many of them will have outdated computers that still work, so you can easily go during the sale and purchase whichever ones you want. On top of this, you could purchase multiple computers if you want to have more than one of them.

Government Auctions

The government may have old pieces of technology that they want to get rid of, so you should check out some government auctions. They are similar to schools since they will update technology based around their budget, so you could end up with some old computers through their auctions.

You can look at the items at the auction to see if they have any old computers. From here, you can get ready to bid on those old computers to try and get a good deal on them. Remember that you only have to pay what you bid on it which will help you to stay within your budget if the bids get too high for your preference.

Storage Shed Auctions

Auctions are always good options for finding old computers, so why not visit a storage shed auction as well? These auctions allow people to sell old belongings in their storage sheds, so you may find some interesting technology in it. After all, people will store a variety of items in their storage sheds.

Just like with government auctions, you can easily bid on the items that interest you. If anything goes above the price you want to pay for it, you can immediately drop out of the auction. You could also get an old computer for a lower price than you would pay for it online.

Enthusiast Forums

Sometimes, you should talk with other people that have similar interests to you if you want to find old computers. You can look for online forums where other computer enthusiasts can talk about your options for finding old computers. For example, Reddit has plenty of subreddits you can visit for information on old computers.

You can also look through old forum posts to find even more information on specific topics that interest you. If you can't find the answers that you want, you can make a post about it. Don't be afraid to ask questions and interact with others to find out more information about old computers.

eBay

If you want a website specifically for bidding and finding new products, you should check outeBay. This website allows you to search for different computers and other products for sale. From here, you can bid on the old computers that interest you to see if you can get any of them.

This works well because you can have the product shipped to your house after you purchase it. On top of this, eBay focuses on keeping buyers safe, so you can request refunds if the product doesn't work or if the seller tries to take advantage of you. Either way, eBay is a solid option if you want to bid on old computers.

Conclusion

You may struggle to find old computers, but if you check out these different places, you will have an easier time finding them. Even if you don't find any that you want at first, you should keep looking for them. If you diligently search for the old computer you want, you will eventually find it.