The traditional time for airing out your closets and getting rid of all the clutter and stuff you no longer need is from the new year to spring. I propose you also take a look at the technology you are not using and consider selling, donating, recycling or just tossing what’s no longer needed.
But what should you purge? If you are like me, you might have a closet full of old cables, barely functioning USB headsets and random adapters you’re keeping around “just in case.” Let me say this clearly, and please allow it to sink in: “Just in case” is never going to happen. So let go of these things.
A good rule of thumb: if you haven’t used something in six months, it probably should be on its way out of your life.
Here are just a few items upon which you should be casting a skeptical eye:
• Old cables and adapters. My rule of thumb is to keep one kind of each cable (USB, RCA, etc.) as a “just in case,” but even that might be overkill. Any cable that’s frayed or doesn’t work reliably should go. Keep HDMI cables unless they are not working properly.
• VCRs, tape decks and non-Blu-Ray DVD players. It’s a cumbersome process to transfer old home videos and cassettes to digital, but it’s got to be done sometime. If you are not willing to let go of your DVD collection, DVD players can be pretty cheaply replaced with Blu-ray players (they also play regular DVDs) or even a 4K Ultra Blu-ray player.
• Old game consoles. Unless you are playing those games or saving them for your kids, trade or sell them to a store such as Game Over Videogames, or donate them.
• Old thumb drives and external hard drives. Transfer the contents of smaller drives to one big one (and remember to have a backup) or if you trust the cloud, keep the bulk of your files there. Do a secure format of any old storage media you plan to donate, or if you are paranoid, just destroy the hard drive before sending it to a recycling center.
• Computers. Slow and barely functional? Upgrade. But make sure to clear out your data and de-authorize apps such as iTunes that are used on multiple devices.
• Kitchen gadgets. Don’t make cooking any harder than it has to be; get rid of any kitchen tools that are clinging to life.
• Old software. There’s really no need to keep discs of old versions of Windows or TurboTax 1998.
• Anything broken or unusable. This goes for old TVs, cracked smartphones or an old computer you think you are going to get fixed someday, but probably won’t.
• Cameras. If you’re taking most of your photos with your phone, you probably don’t need an old point-and-shoot camera anymore. Donate.
After deciding what goes, you have a lot of options on what to do with these items.
For newer tech, the best first option is probably to try selling or trading in if you are in the market for new gadgets. Gazelle, NextWorth, Craigslist and eBay are good places to start, as well as more locally focused apps such as OfferUp, Mercari and Letgo.
Donating your tech is always a good bet. Goodwill is usually my go-to, although there are some local organizations that are looking for specific items.
Recycling options include Best Buy and Target, which are good places to unload nonfunctioning phones, cameras, TVs, old ink cartridges and some appliances.
Omar L. Gallaga writes for the Austin American-Statesman, Texas.