"Pass IT On For Good" USB card helps repurpose old computers


April 13, 2013

The Pass IT On For Good USB card erases an old computer's hard drive, and installs new educational software

The Pass IT On For Good USB card erases an old computer's hard drive, and installs new educational software

Image Gallery (2 images)

What should you do with your old computer? Chances are that no one will want to buy it, but you don’t want to just throw it away – especially with e-waste being such a huge environmental concern. Recycling or donating are possibilities, but how do you know that all of your personal information is really deleted from its hard drive? Well, that’s where the Pass IT On For Good project comes in. It supplies you with a USB card that deletes all the personal content on your computer, installs educational software, and then instructs you on how to donate it for use in schools in developing nations.

Pass IT On For Good is a joint non-profit effort of the University of New Hampshire's Research Computing Center, and spin-off software company Obliterase. Here’s how the system works ...

After purchasing and receiving a Pass IT On For Good USB card, you boot up your old computer, hook it up to the internet, plug the card’s flip-out dongle into its USB port, and launch the integrated software. That software then assesses the computer’s specs and condition, to see if they meet the minimum requirements for Pass IT On’s educational partner organization, The World Computer Exchange.

From there, the program lets you know if your machine is up to snuff for donation, or if it should simply be recycled. In either case, the software then proceeds to permanently delete all personal information from the hard drive, using Obliterase’s proprietary technology – as many readers will already know, simply selecting files and deleting them on your desktop does not remove all trace of them from the computer.

If the computer is bound for donation, a new operating system will then be installed. That OS will contain educational content specific to the intended destination of the machine.

Finally, you will be e-mailed a certificate of erasure, along with information on where to take or ship your computer for donation or recycling.

As you repurpose additional computers (friends and family can also use your card), a tally of your educational and positive environmental impact will be updated on the project’s website – keep in mind that donating a computer not only keeps it out of the waste stream, but it also saves the environmental and energy costs of manufacturing a new one. Each card is good for a given number of uses, but can be recharged online.

The organizers of Pass IT On For Good are currently raising funds to get their program up and running, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$25 will get you a Bronze Pass card, good for five uses. Cards with a higher number of uses, at a reduced cost-per-use, are available for larger pledges.

More information is available in the pitch video below.

Source: Pass IT On For Good via Kickstarter

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Sounds like a great idea, I hope it's a huge success!

Sylvia Peet

If no one would want to but it, chances are it's such a power hungry behemot that donating it would be like donating a ball and chain.

Now, for companies that do not WANT to bother finding buyers for their not-so-old hardware... well, for them it might work.

Jaroslaw Filiochowski

You can download that stuff probably 10x as easily. Also, if your old computer cannot download stuff from the internet - who would want it anyway?


Does it work on UNIX or Linux? Or only Windows?

Sean Lijek

They've found a way to use Kickstarter to market their pre-existing product. Clever for sure but....


Hello -

Sounds like a good idea.

In terms of data safety I like to take out the hard disk and "harvest" the magnets. I keep the platters and other cool machined parts for steampunk jewelry possibilities.


Why would someone want to pay to make a donation? Sounds like a sneaky way to sell someone a limited use software license.


I'd just download Edubuntu, Qimo, or Puppy and install that, which does the same thing. But I guess it's an OK idea. lots of computers will run Linux, when they struggle with Windows and its anti-virus bloat.

James Van Damme

It sounds really interesting. Hope it would be a great great success.

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles