Your Questions on the Secondary IT Equipment Market Answered

A circular IT economy comes with huge cost-benefits, however, there are some common misconceptions that prevent many from considering 2nd hand IT hardware. One of these misconceptions is that the refurbished IT market requires one to settle for second best in terms of quality. Having taken part in major research projects that not only debunk this myth, Techbuyer’s Richard Kenny and Astrid Wynne recently discussed their findings at the SpiceWorks SpiceWorld virtual event.

They presented their research that recently appeared in an IEEE paper that proves when optimized properly, secondary equipment can out-perform the next generation of servers. Sustainability reporting is not just becoming a government requirement for larger corporations, but likewise an expectation from both shareholders and customers. Rich and Astrid analyzed significant environmental benefits of second hand, from the reduction of scope 3 emissions to alleviation of finite material mining. Their session was popular amongst they many IT Pros that attended SpiceWorld, and it offered easy and actionable takeaways that all businesses can take advantage of to improve IT performance, reduce carbon footprints, and save on costs.

After the presentation was a valuable Q&A session with attendees, where there was a lot of great discussion around refurbished IT equipment. We’ve pulled a selection of questions and subsequent answers and provided them here:

Question: “What do you suggest regarding security issues for equipment that will never be patched, but still functions? I've been donating old [Intel] vPro desktops and notebooks to a local faith-based community support organization, but it's kind of passing the buck for security issues.”

Answer: “Where it’s going to enter the secondary market, the device needs effective data sanitization. Look for a provider that uses a software program such as White Canyon, that permanently destroys data, making any type of forensic data recovery impossible.

Where it is too old to be adequately patched for a production environment then we need to look at the most effective recycling options available. Look for a provider that ethically recycles in line with industry regulations. Also think about component level harvesting to make the best use of the equipment if the software and/or hardware can't be properly updated or secured.”


Question: “What about hardware that requires subscription to access all functionality? Specifically, things like firewalls that use an "end-of-life" date after which subscriptions cannot be renewed and functionality drops to the bare minimum. Are these companies being pressured to do better?”

Answer: “Great question. Yes, they are being pressurized to do better particularly as the world has an increased focus on sustainability. One of the key functions of the Right to Repair - as well as eco-design legislation - is to ensure products are supported and do not become obsolete before consumers are ready.

Right to Repair has recently been receiving some top-level support in the USA and around the world. Businesses and consumers are increasingly coming to the realization that extending the lifespan of IT equipment is our best method for making use of the rare materials found in tech devices. This in turn saves these materials from making their way to landfill.”


Question: “Does purchasing new equipment cause more waste as the old equipment is thrown away?”

Answer: “Yes, and this is the argument for reuse rather than use and destroy. Even recycling redundant equipment is not a great choice for the environment. This is because recycling does not currently have the ability to fully recover all of the critical materials from within a device for reuse. This means that during the recycling process, critical raw materials are still being wasted.

Making equipment last longer by refurbishing, reusing, reconfiguring and remanufacturing at systems level avoids the need to mine, manufacture and transport materials across the globe.”


Question: “I am looking to replace some of the hard drives in my office equipment with SSDs, will this result in a performance improvement?” 

Answer: “When looking to extend the useable life of Desktops and Laptops switching from a HDD to a SSD and increasing the RAM can make the device perform better than the day it was first bought.

We recommend solid state drives that provide both speed and responsiveness whilst offering the big data capacity of mechanical hard drives.” 


About Techbuyer:

Techbuyer is a global provider of new and quality refurbished servers, storage and networking equipment, laptops and desktops. With over $12 million in global stock from over 150 brands including HPE, Dell and IBM, we can support your entire IT life cycle by refurbishing, upgrading, replacing or repairing your devices.