The article linked below discusses a number of ways older computers can be re-purposed. Many of these ideas could be put to work in a dental office. For example an out of date treatment room computer could be re-purposed as a media center to provide on demand music for patients.
However if you must get rid of an old machine not only do we have a duty to dispose of electronics responsibly, as dental professionals we have an even bigger obligation to insure that personal patient data cannot be recovered from any items we dispose of.
It is not enough to simply erase the data or put it in the “Recycle Bin”. Data in the recycle bin is not really erased it is just orphaned with no pointers to find it, but it is still there and an expert can easily recover it. You need to completely destroy the data by writing over the disk segments multiple times or reformatting the disk.
Doing this yourself is tricky so unless you are geekish either get your IT support team to do it for you or check out an application like KillDisk.
We buy a lot of electronics in this country, and that means we throw a lot of electronics away, as well