The typical lifespan of your server is between 6-10 years, around 6 years for most rack servers and slightly longer for integrated servers.
Meaning, they are not designed to last forever, and sooner or later, you’ll need to decommission and/or replace your servers.
So, when the time comes to finally retire your old servers, what should we do about them?
When not managed properly, your old servers may take up your valuable storage space, and not to mention the data stored within them may be at risk. Also, if you neglect the opportunity to sell the servers for money, you may lower their overall ROI and lose the chance to help finance the upgrade through the resale value.
In this article, we will discuss how and where you can sell your old servers and other IT equipment so you can maximize their value. We will also review the best vendors that will offer the most money and maximize your servers’ ROI.
When should you consider retiring your server?
Of course, your organization’s current situations and needs are unique, and your servers are also unique with their own life expectancy.
Yet, here are some factors you can assess to weigh when you should retire and/or replace your old servers:
- It’s no longer supported by its manufacture
A clear sign that your server is too old (and potentially obsolete) is when it’s no longer supported by its maker, and so won’t receive any updates or security fixes.
Without these updates and especially security patches, the server is prone to potential security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious parties.
You should retire and replace unsupported servers as soon as you possibly can. Typically recycling or physical destruction is your best bet here, but albeit it’s rare, it’s possible to find a buyer and sell this server.
- Your server could no longer fulfill your organization’s performance requirements
A healthy business is one that grows, so it’s natural that your company will outgrow your server’s technical specifications sooner or later.
For example, if a new Intel CPU is announced but your server can’t support this new CPU, then you may start thinking of an upgrade.
In this type of scenario, if your used server is still in good condition with a fairly high resale value, then you can try selling this server to fund the upgrade.
- Your company is scaling down
When your organization is looking to scale down, naturally you’ll need fewer servers and IT equipment in general. When scaling down, selling unused IT assets so you can recoup some of your investment should be your priority.
If you are scaling down due to economic reasons, the recouped money from selling your servers could potentially save your business and cover some of your operational expenses.
- This particular server is not used for some time
There are organizations that simply own too many servers and IT assets and have those that aren’t being used at all—gathering dust. There are cases when the organization simply has forgotten about the servers’ existence.
The thing is, these servers will lose their value over time. The company should perform regular IT asset audits and attempt to sell these unused servers (and other equipment) as soon as possible.
What can you do with your retired servers?
What are your options when the time to finally retire your server comes? There are actually multiple options you can consider:
- Donate to organizations in need: pretty self-explanatory, you can put your retired servers into a good cause. But you should make sure to securely wipe any sensitive data stored on the server.
- Repurpose: you can repurpose your older servers for less demanding tasks within the organization. Since the server stays inside your company, data security concerns may not be a major issue, but it’s recommended to still be extra careful. You may also use the server as backup or storage devices.
- Recycle: if the server is no longer functional, the resale value is too low, or if it used to store highly sensitive data and security is a major concern, then recycling the server is a viable option. Make sure to recycle responsibly according to the applicable environmental regulations.
- Sell: To recoup some of your investment, there’s an option to sell the server as scrap metal for raw materials after physical destruction. However, if the resale value is still relatively high, and you are confident about secure data wiping, then selling the server as-is can be the most profitable option.
Where and how to sell your unused servers
As discussed, if your server is still in a fairly good condition and still sells for pretty high value, then selling your server should be the most profitable option to maximize its ROI.
If you are planning to replace the server, then the resale value of the old server could also help you find the upgrade, so this option—when possible—should be a no-brainer.
The thing is, despite its obvious benefit, selling your used server is not always the most ideal option depending on three factors:
- Usability: pretty obvious. If the server is no longer functional (at least, optimal,) it will be very difficult if not impossible to sell it
- Resale value: you’d want to find a buyer that will offer the highest possible amount of money for your server, but it’s not always possible.
- Data security: it’s common for servers to store sensitive, confidential, and regulated information, such as customer records. Performing secure wiping on the server to ensure this data is unrecoverable without physical destruction to retain the server’s functionality can be valuable, can be challenging and/or expensive.
With these three considerations in mind, we generally have three main options for where you can sell your servers:
- Finding your own buyer. For example, if you can sell your used servers to partner companies or colleagues. This option includes advertising your servers on relevant media (i.e., on Craigslist) to find your buyer. This option will give you the most flexibility and freedom in setting your terms and price, but you’ll need to do everything by yourself, including performing secure data wiping and packaging/transporting the goods (all of these have their own risks). Not to mention, finding your own buyer can be very challenging and time-consuming.
- Listing your equipment on marketplaces. For instance, on Amazon or eBay. You’ll typically get an easier time finding potential buyers on these marketplaces, but you’ll have less flexibility in setting your terms. You’ll still need to perform secure data eradication and package/transport the goods, but the marketplace platform may provide some limited assistance.
- Selling to specialist IT companies. The last option is to sell your servers to specialist ITAD vendors, like Big Data Supply Inc. This is typically the preferable option if you are selling used servers and IT assets in bulk. You might want to contact multiple ITAD companies to get multiple quotes from different companies. This way, you can make sure you are getting the best possible offer. A reputable ITAD company could perform secure data wiping when required and handle the packaging/transport of your devices. On top of these benefits, you’ll still be able to get a fair value out of your servers.
What is an ITAD company?
An ITAD (IT Asset Disposition) company is a company that specializes in handling and buying/selling used or retired IT assets, and in this case, servers.
There are three key aspects to an ITAD process:
- Maximizing the value of the retired IT equipment, either by purchasing the asset for a fair price, or recycling the server when resale is not possible.
- Ensuring any action taken (resale, disposition, recycling) to the IT asset stays compliant with any regulations and standards. This includes both environmental and data privacy/security laws and regulations.
- For IT assets that store potentially sensitive or confidential data, the ITAD process must ensure the secure erasure of this data so that it’s unrecoverable by any means.
In some industries or locations, a proper ITAD process may be legally required to ensure data privacy and to prevent any future security risks. Yet, even when it’s not legally required, ITAD best practices can also help organizations maximize the ROI of their servers and other IT assets.
Technically, any company can perform ITAD on its own, but the actual process can be time-consuming and challenging, not to mention may require the company to invest in specialized and expensive equipment. This is where a specialist ITAD vendor can help with their expertise and experience.
Check for relevant certifications
As discussed, selling your used servers to a specialist ITAD vendor is typically the most viable and profitable option. This is especially true if you are planning to sell in bulk, although some ITAD companies may accept individual transactions.
Yet, with so many ITAD vendors available, how should you choose the right one to sell your assets to?
Before anything else, check whether the ITAD vendor possesses any relevant certifications. These certifications can be a good measure of the vendor’s credibility and proof that it stays compliant with relevant regulations.
Some relevant certifications in the iTAD industry are:
- ISO Standards. There are three relevant ISO standards in the ITAD industry:
- ISO-9001 for quality management standards
- ISO-14001 for environmental management standards
- ISO-45001 for health & safety standards
- RIOS™ (Recycling Industry Operating Standard): RIOS certification is only given to companies that have stayed in compliance with ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001 standards. ITAD companies that are RIOS™-certified have implemented environmental responsibility across the organization, ensuring optimal health and safety policies across the facility.
- R2 (Responsible Recycling): R2 is a facility-level accreditation only given to companies that have established a comprehensive and secure policy to manage used and end-of-life IT assets, components, and materials. Check out the R2 standards library here.
Also, depending on the industry you’re in, you may be legally required to stay compliant with specific regulations, such as HIPAA if you are in the medical field, or FERPA if you are an educational institution. In such cases, make sure to evaluate whether your ITAD vendor complies with these regulations your company is required to follow.
Top 3 ITAD vendors that will offer the most value for your servers
- Big Data Supply Inc.
Big data Supply Inc. is a U.S.-based ITAD vendor that also has offices in the Netherlands and Singapore (allowing a more optimal resale network to Europe and Asia.)
It is a one-stop, premier iTAD solution that is both R2 and RIOS-certified. Not only will they be a reliable partner for you to sell your used IT assets, but they will also offer end-to-end IT disposition and recycling services that may help you secure your data and maximize the value of your retiring network equipment.
Some services provided by Big Data Supply Inc. are:
- Purchasing and reselling used network equipment at fair value
- Permanent and secure data destruction. Big Data Supply Inc. will provide you with a certification of data destruction for each secured asset. When required, they can also provide a chain of custody documents.
- Complete IT asset removal (physical destruction)
- Hardware recycling practices that adhere to current environmental best practices
- Third-party OEM maintenance
- Cloud storage services
With locations in Southern California, Singapore, and the Netherlands, Big Data Supply Inc. can offer comprehensive ITAD services worldwide.
Both businesses and individuals that are selling their IT equipment in bulk can use Big Data Supply Inc. as their reliable ITAD vendor.
- Cascade Asset Management
Cascade Asset Management is a Wisconsin-based, certified IT asset disposition solution that will help you maximize the resale of your retiring IT equipment while also reducing logistics and processing costs by:
- Helping remove device locks that prohibit resale
- Advising how to protect devices during transport to maximize resale value
- Providing repairs to IT assets to improve the resale value of each equipment.
- Employing a shared route transportation method to pick up IT assets at multiple locations within one trip to reduce logistics costs
- Reviewing third-party carriers when applicable
- Ensuring each device only receives the absolutely necessary services to reduce processing costs
To mitigate security risks and ensure data privacy, Cascade employs secure data destruction techniques (physical and electronic), including secure on-site wiping, shredding, or crushing while
Maintaining secure and environmentally-responsible recycling practices. It is NAID (National Association of Information Destruction) AAA-certified, assuring Cascade complies with all the best practice requirements and applicable regulations requiring the protection of sensitive/confidential consumer information (i.e., HIPAA and FISMA.)
Cascade Asset Management also maintains a secure chain of custody to ensure transparency and accountability during the transport of your devices from your location to the Cascade facility.
- All Green Electronics Recycling
All Green Electronics Recycling is one of the top ITAD companies in the world, based in California but with various other disposal locations across the U.S.
All Green Electronics Recycling specializes in global IT asset disposition, secure data destruction (including hard drive shredding), IT equipment destruction, and reverse logistics. At the moment, it is one of the world’s leading R2-certified electronics recyclers.
Offering global ITAD services, All Green Electronics Recycling can pick up, package, and transport your used IT equipment and then destroy, recycle, or repurpose your IT equipment while providing a comprehensive report.
You can expect to get the highest return on the value of your IT equipment with All Green Electronics Recycling. It accepts computers, servers, laptops, cell phones, network equipment, and telecom equipment, among other types of IT equipment. Being also a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher, it can return the maximum value for all of your retiring IT equipment anywhere in the world.
If your equipment is/was on a lease, All Green also has a lease buyback program that guarantees a higher return than going back to your previous leasing company. One of the top ITAD companies you can consider to maximize your retired equipment’s ROI.
Above, we have discussed your options to maximize the ROI of your old servers by reselling it, as well as the top three ITAD vendors you can consider to sell your servers to.
When selling your old server, always remember that value shouldn’t only be your only concern but also data security and privacy.
Make sure to choose a buyer that won’t only give you a fair value for your IT assets but can also provide you with secure data eradication (with certification of data destruction) while maintaining environmentally responsible practices.