How We Reuse

We want to make sure that all working technology finds a good home.

While Free Geek recycles a several tons of electronics each year, our primary focus is getting the donated technology reused. At the heart of Free Geek’s mission is the Build Program, where donated computers are lovingly refurbished into working machines running the Ubuntu Linux operating system. These computers are then earned by volunteers, donated to non-profit organizations, or sold in the Thrift Store.

Free Geek volunteers not only refurbish desktop computers, but also work with laptops, Macs, motherboards, network devices, optical drives, cards, RAM, and exciting related components.

Other electronics besides computers also get reused.

Data destruction: At Free Geek we take the utmost care to ensure complete data destruction of all user data that is donated to us. Hard drives that meet our specifications for reuse are removed from their systems and wiped in our hard drive sanitation banks. The process we use is Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) for data destruction. DBAN overwrites sectors of the hard drive 3 times using a destructive write which ensures that ALL data on the drive is completely destroyed and totally unrecoverable. Hard drives that are below our specifications for reuse are physically destroyed on site.

Magnetic media such as floppy disks and backup tapes are disassembled in our recycling area and the plastic components are shredded by our plastics recycling vendor. Optical media such as cd-rw discs are physically destroyed as soon as we receive them.


I’ve never used Linux and I hear it’s hard to use…

While this is a common misconception and Linux can be very easy to use, with theAdoption Program, Free Geek offers help in how to use and personalize the computer you earn. Free Geek also hopes to offer a series of in-depth classes about each program (Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Presentation) AND a class which allows you to find out a little more about how to do what you want to do with your computer (“Super Adopter” class). Additionally, as an incentive to keep using Linux, Free Geek offers a year of free tech support for all volunteers who keep Linux on their PCs.