Closing the Digital Divide: Getting Cheap and Free Computers

digital divide free computers keyboard photo

Photo via Lizzardo

One of the major issues behind the digital divide is the expense of obtaining a computer. They cost a pretty penny and when you’re on a tight budget, it can feel impossible to bring home the latest in computer gear.

Thankfully, there is a way to get affordable computers to people who need them and improve our impact on the environment at the same time. Many computers have exceptionally long lifetimes for basic use, so distributing refurbished used computers is a great way to spread technology to people who wouldn't otherwise have access. Plus, keeping computers in the loop for as long as possible reduces their impact on the environment - getting a used computer is far greener than getting a new one.

Here are a collection of ideas for getting your hands on free computers, cheap computers, and inexpensive used computers.

Getting Free Computers
Across the US and world there are non-profit organizations like Free Home Computer and Smart Riverside that help get free computers into the hands of people who need them. They’re called digital inclusion programs and in places like San Francisco, they’re gaining ground. For most of these programs, if you meet the qualifications they set, you can get a free computer. Even if you don’t quite meet the criteria, they usually have computer labs open for people to use.

Getting Great Used Computers
Going through a used computer seller is a good way to find an affordable computer. UsedComputer is a nice place to start, or check out a local computer repair shop, which often will have inexpensive used computers for sale.

Also, computer manufacturers have refurbished computers that are a fraction of the cost of a new computer, but are of the same quality.

Finding Cheap New Computers
New computers and notebooks keep getting cheaper as well, especially Linux-based systems. Check out the ASUS Eee PC, or subnotebooks that are super cheap, portable computers.

Free Computer Help
Finding help to keep your computer running smoothly can also be costly, but there are free programs available. Computer Hope and Free Geek are two awesome resources for people who don’t have money to spare for computer repairs and assistance.

More on Blog Action Day 2008:
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