Why Your Excess Used Servers Could be Valuable


You can sell just about anything for a bit of cash; that’s why garage sales are a thing. Sometimes, though, you can sell something for a good chunk of change. If you have extra used servers you want to get rid of, don’t just dump them or give them away; you could sell them for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The price you get depends on several different factors, but many servers have plenty of resale potential.

What determines a used server’s value?

A big part of it will be who you sell it to. Companies like Alta Tech offer to buy or trade for used servers and other equipment, so if you’re planning on buying replacements, that’s one way to benefit from the server’s value. Individual buyers would also pay well, but it’s also hard to find the right buyer if you’re on a site like eBay. If you had multiple servers to sell, a wholesale buyer would be willing to take them off your hands – but probably at a discounted rate.

Another determining factor will be the age of the server. If it’s over five years old, its value may have depreciated past the point of making you much money. Even if it’s in excellent shape, a lot of buyers simply aren’t interested in a server that’s already seen several years of use.

The brand and model of the server will also influence how much you could get for it. Certain brands are more reputable, and certain models are more powerful.

How to sell your servers to an individual

If you have between one and five servers, you’d probably be better off looking for individual buyers. They might want used servers for hobbies like computer modeling, or they could need them for hosting video games. They might even be interested in a server for the spare parts. Whatever the case, this is where you’ll usually get the best price.

  • Try your luck on eBay

Unless you already know someone who’s interested, the internet will be your best bet for finding a buyer. In addition to eBay you could list your servers on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, but you’d have to keep a sharp eye out for scammers. Unless you’re in a big rush, sticking with one or two sites you can trust is safest.

eBay makes it easy to put up a listing and connect with buyers, plus you don’t have to mount a huge advertising campaign in order to get your listing out there. Shipping is also pretty easy to coordinate.

However, if there’s a problem between you and the buyer, you should be aware that eBay is known for siding against the seller. For example, it’s nearly impossible to ship a server to someone without some level of damage happening along the way. Unless you have its original packaging, that’s pretty much a given. This will likely result in a claim from the buyer, and assuming eBay will side with them, you could be liable for some level of reimbursement.

Another drawback has to do with eBay’s seller fees. Regular sellers don’t have to pay that much, but new sellers are required to pay pretty hefty fees. If you’re taking care of payments through PayPal, you can expect the combined fees to take between 15% and 20% of the sales price of your servers.

Even if you don’t use eBay as a selling tool, it can still be a handy resource. There are plenty of servers listed there, so they could provide a reference point for how much yours is worth. That being said, make sure you’re looking at the sold (not unsold) listings. Some people ask for too much, and their servers just sit around looking expensive. The people who are asking for a reasonable price are the ones who actually make the sales.

  • List your servers on Reddit

This may seem like a bizarre suggestion, but there’s actually a fair amount of IT equipment that gets sold on Reddit. Members and mods work together to authenticate sellers and buyers, and those who aren’t operating in good faith get banned. There’s still a higher possibility of scams here, but you also get to avoid seller fees; some people feel like that balances things out.

Pro tip: how to protect yourself if you’re using PayPal

Regardless of what online site you’re using to sell your server, PayPal may offer seller protection for the transaction. Go into your settings and see if you have “friends and family” selected; that’s what you don’t want. Seller protection is a policy that prevents chargebacks, reversals, and any associated fees.

How to sell your servers as wholesale lots

If you’re selling servers as a result of decommissioning projects, migrations, or server room liquidations, using eBay or Reddit would be way too labor-intensive. First you’ll need to verify your inventory, and then you’ll need to evaluate its worth for a wholesale buyer. If you want a quick and dirty appraisal, assume that the servers have lost half their value each year since being bought. You could also come up with an estimate based on the value of the individual components.

Selecting a wholesale buyer

It’s recommended to start by looking in-network. If you already know an IT Asset Disposition vendor, you won’t have to vet anyone else before agreeing to sell them your servers. If that isn’t an option, you could ask IT staff within your network if they have any trusted connections.

In some cases, it’s actually more profitable to strip the servers, test the components, and then sell the components in bulk. It’s more work, but it can also mean more profit if you can’t find a good buyer for the servers themselves.

The takeaway

Even if it takes a little work to sell your used servers, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you could get for them. Just make sure that you know what the servers are worth, and take your time to find the right buyer; the payoff should be worth the effort.

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