Looking for some good reasons to sell used servers—are you on the fence about what to do with your old servers?
Well, below is a list of 7 really good reasons to sell your used servers for cash.
Reasons to Sell Used Servers Now
1. For Upgrade Reasons
A major reason for companies to recycle or sell old servers is often that they are outdated and a company wants to upgrade—better performance.
So why keep the antiquated stuff?
When a company sells its used servers, they can then reinvest the proceeds into new IT equipment or other equipment.
2. It Can Free Up Space
Depending on the size of your organization, you could have loads of used and older servers in storage, simply taking up space, and doing nothing except gathering dust.
However, recycling or selling these used servers won’t just put money in the bank, but can also free up space for something more useful for your organization.
Like a pool table.
3. For a Tax Write-off
Now, this little trick doesn’t exactly involve selling your used servers, not at all, actually.
However, it does help your company increase its bottom line.
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the books, donating old assets.
By donating your old assets you can mitigate depreciation. This allows you to take a tax write-off at a higher value than the asset would’ve sold for.
Essentially, a tax write off is worth more than the assets are to your bottom line.
This can be coordinated directly with another company to come to pick up your assets, or it can be coordinated through an electronics recycling company.
Either way, you’ll want to coordinate with the financial department and purchasing to make sure that this option makes sense for you.
4. To Minimize Depreciation
Depreciation is another excellent reason to sell used servers and one that makes sense.
Selling your used servers earlier will yield higher price point values than waiting until an old server crashes.
It goes without saying that the longer you run a server, the less value it retains.
The tradeoff here is that if you need to purchase replacement servers, you may get better or worse pricing. This often depends on the time of year and the release schedule of new models.
5. When Performance is Lacking
Selling a used server creates an opportunity for purchasing an upgraded model, which means faster speeds, better storage, better security features, and all-around improved performance.
Given that almost every business leverages technology in some way to gain an edge on its competition, present gen servers can help companies get ahead and stay ahead.
Upgrading your servers can help your company be more competitive in many cases.
6. For Security Reasons
As with any form of maturing technology, older servers are more vulnerable to inadequate performance. This can hinder security measures.
Aging servers may be more vulnerable to viruses and malware. Simply because they’re not equipped with security measures designed to protect against newer forms of attacks.
Servers that are old and outdated also have a higher risk of going down completely. This, as we know, can severely disrupt operations.
Security reasons should be a major factor when considering reselling used servers and upgrading them. Server upgrades alone can help protect your network.
7. Because It’s Easier Than You Think
For people who may be new to the idea of decommissioning their IT equipment, or selling their used servers, at first, the thought of doing so may seem like a rather large task, but really, it’s fairly easy.
There are two routes you should consider when selling your used servers.
One is selling to an individual and the other is selling as a wholesaler, in bulk.
Selling one or two servers is a bit different than selling servers in bulk.
When you sell just a few servers, this is when you’ll want to sell to an individual consumer.
Let’s go over selling small quantities first.
Selling Servers to Individual Consumers
With small quantities of servers, I.E., 1-5, again, it is probably more cost-effective to find a single buyer.
These can be people using servers for video game hosting or hobbyist activities like computer modeling.
They may also simply be looking to strip the server for parts to keep their existing server running smoothly.
eBay is perhaps the most obvious choice when it comes to finding online buyers for anything really, and servers are no exception.
The online auction website makes it easy to list your equipment. It also makes it easy to get your item exposure.
Selling and shipping is fairly easy to coordinate on eBay for your servers or server parts.
It is not without its drawbacks, however.
The well-known auction site is notorious for siding with its buyers in transactions. That can have far-reaching implications for you as a seller.
The most obvious one is probably when it comes to shipping.
If you don’t have the original box for a server, you are almost assuredly going to damage your server in some capacity during shipping.
In these cases, you may be held responsible for reimbursements to the buyer.
More on shipping your server(s) later.
Another drawback to eBay is the fees that eBay takes from you as the seller.
As you sell more on the platform, your seller fees will actually decrease. However, for a first-time seller, your seller fees will be fairly hefty.
Between eBay and PayPal, expect to lose somewhere around 15-20% from the value of your servers.
Fees have varied historically with eBay, so this may change over time.
Before you list your material anywhere, the eBay’s “sold listings” section is an invaluable tool. You can use this tool to see what list price is realistic for your server.
Many servers that are listed on eBay never sell because they are priced too high. So, be sure to price your servers according to sold listings, not unsold ones.
While Reddit may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of selling IT equipment, it’s actually one of the better resources online.
As you can see here, there are quite a few transactions for a range of server units and components.
Mods and members do their best to authenticate buyers and sellers.
They also work hard to ban anyone who does not operate in good faith. Unfortunately, though, there are assuredly still scammers that fall through the cracks.
While you’re less likely to be scammed as a seller, there are still many ways a buyer can operate in bad faith.
For example, they could use a stolen credit card or something of that nature.
That being said, the aspect of seeing potential buyers’ post histories and the threat of a ban does provide more assurances than something like Craigslist, even if Reddit is still anonymous.
Be sure to utilize this history feature and investigate a user’s profile before selling to them.
Are they a brand new user?
The benefit of using Reddit is that unlike eBay, you can circumvent substantial seller fees. This is a major plus.
It is also possible to get a better offer for your material on Reddit than eBay.
We no longer recommend craigslist, but Facebook Marketplace is worth mentioning as an option in urban areas.
Selling Servers in Wholesale Lots
Reasons to sell used servers in bulk include server room liquidations, migrations, and decommissioning projects.
So obviously, selling servers in bulk is a whole different animal and is quite a bit different than selling on eBay or Reddit.
Regardless of why you find yourself with an endless amount of servers to liquidate, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure your inventory list is correct.
This may involve a manual inspection or the use of discovery tools with a CMDB or other asset management list/platform.
Once you have a verified inventory, you’ll want to figure out how much your servers are worth in wholesale.
Quick and Dirty Bulk Server Valuations
With consumer quantities, eBay is a nice tool to find a value estimate, but it won’t work for a bulk IT asset valuation of hundreds of servers.
As you sell in larger quantities, you expect to get less per unit for the convenience the buyer is providing, so consumer sales are not representative of wholesale ones.
If you have qualified purchasing and IT staff in-house with significant knowledge of the IT secondary market, you can always get a general resale valuation in-house.
If not, a fairly easy way to gauge what servers are worth with modest precision is to simply assume a 100% year-over-year rate of depreciation.
Essentially, assume that your servers have halved in value each year since you bought them.
If you have the original purchase document, this should make your estimate fairly easy.
Again, this is not a very precise way to evaluate your servers’ value.
Another method is to look at the individual value of your systems’ components.
If you see that your systems each have 16GB DDR4, for example, you could look up what each of those components is going for, and then approximate the component value of each unit.
From there, you can assume fairly negligible value from the chassis themselves and then take off 10%-50% of that value for wholesale pricing.
Choosing Your Wholesale Buyer
A logical place to start in the search for a bulk server buyer is in-network.
Your organization may already have a relationship with an IT Asset Disposition vendor, which can save you the trouble of vetting a new one.
You may want to reach out to other IT staff in the organization or in your network to find a trusted logistics/remarketing vendor.
That being said, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to new companies that handle IT asset disposition (AKA ITAD companies) to compare pricing and services.
Google is your friend in this case.
Larger companies typically have more comprehensive decommissioning capabilities and more global logistics capacity, but will also have more overhead to cover, and so you may find that your sale margins are lower and a smaller ITAD vendor is a better fit for you.
If your server doesn’t appear to have any demand on the market or with any of the typical purchasers, you can ignore the chassis.
You may find it advantageous to simply strip the components out of your servers, test them, and then sell each lot of components in bulk.
This may be difficult without a network of IT purchasers, brokers, etc., but it is certainly an option.
Keep in mind that you will not be getting the same amount of value out of the servers by doing this.
Regardless of what route you take to try and find a wholesale buyer, ensure that they are R2 or E-stewards certified and are trusted for data security purposes by other organizations.
PRO TIP 1: Protecting Yourself with PayPal
Whether you use eBay, Reddit, or some other site to coordinate the sale of your server, you may be eligible for seller protection through PayPal.
If you have the “friends and family” option in PayPal selected, this protection is not available.
To protect yourself, be sure that you and the buyer have coordinated in this regard and not use the “friends and family” option.
PRO TIP 2: DIY Server Shipping
If you’re planning on a DIY server decommission, you have a few options.
You could strap a server rack to a pallet, or you can just wheel the rack into the shipping truck of whoever is handling logistics.
Alternatively, you could pull the servers out and ship them individually if you’re working with lower quantities.
If you have the original box, you are less likely to have your servers damaged during shipping to the buyers.
Most standardized boxes on the market are not form-fitting to typical servers, so you’ll need to pack very carefully.
As stated earlier, the vast majority of server shipping done by non-professionals results in some degree of damage to the server.
For shipping individual servers, plank foam is extremely handy for protecting servers in transit.
We at Exit can ship you custom boxes with foam outlined for the specific servers, though we don’t know if other companies do this.
In general, we advise using tip guards, no exceptions.
Too many IT staff members have been injured by falling servers not to be extra careful with tip guards and/or hydraulic server lifts if you’re working with more dense equipment.
The logistics and processes for a large scale data center decommission is beyond the scope of this article, but you can check out our data center decommission checklist.
That being said, you should be able to find a company to purchase, decommission, wipe, and handle logistics for you in the event that your material is too extensive to handle yourself.
When it comes to choosing a company for your data center decommission, you may find this guide helpful.
Have something to add? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!