Frequently Asked Questions

How do I go about getting a free computer from ACCRC?

You qualify for a computer if you are low income, age 18 or older and submit a complete application which includes a copy of your income verification.

How do I get an application? There are three ways

  1. Download and print an application from our website www.accrc.org.
    • Choose the Individual application unless you represent a non-profit or school.
    • Mail completed application to:
    • ACCRC, Placement Dept.
    • 42 Digital Dr #3, Novato CA 94949
  2. Send us a SASE and we will mail you an application.
    • Mail a SASE (Self-addressed, stamped business size envelope) to:
    • ACCRC, Placement Dept.
    • 42 Digital Dr #3, Novato CA 94949
  3. Pick up an application from our Novato or Berkeley facility.
    • Call us or go to our website for directions
    • ACCRC: 620 Page St, Berkeley, CA 94710. (510) 528-4052
    • MCRC: 42 Digital Dr #3, Novato, CA 94949. (415) 883-1428

How long will it take for me to receive my computer once I apply?

After being approved the wait time could be 3 months or longer. The MCRC (Novato) waiting list is significantly shorter.

How will I know if I have been approved?

We will contact you if your application is incomplete. If it is approved we will call you when your name moves to the top of the list. To find out where you are on the waiting list, please call Janny at 510 367-1717 on Saturdays between 10am - 4pm.

Can I get my computer shipped to me?

Yes, if you are able to pay for shipping. We will call or send you a letter with the details when your name moves to the top of the approved waiting list.

What sort of income verification is acceptable?

The application must be in the name of head of household. The name on the application must match the name on the income verification document(s). We donate one computer per household.

Examples of income verification documents: current (within 30 days) check stubs, social services income verification letters, unemployment check stubs, bank statements with direct deposit information, proof of disability.

You can black out your SS# and account numbers on all documents but we need to be able to verify name and address.

  • Do not send originals
  • Do not send bills or rent receipts

If you have a verification that falls outside of these categories - please call Janny at (510) 367-1717 on Saturdays between 10am - 4pm for more information.

Please know that applications without income verifications will not be processed.

What kind of computer will I receive?

A refurbished Pentium 4 or equivalent desktop computer (wide range of makes and models) with a Linux Operating System and software.

  • Specs: Minimum IG RAM
  • Minimum 40G HD
  • Minimum 1. 7GHz Processor
  • CD or DVD ROM

Can I get a laptop?

Unfortunately, laptops are not available for placements.

Do I have to be a resident of Alameda or Marin County to receive a computer?

No.

What do you do with this stuff?

If your equipment is in working or easily repairable order, we will fix it and place it with a charity, non-profit, school, or low-income or disabled individual somewhere on the planet Earth. If we cannot reuse the equipment, we will disassemble it and send the base elements off to approved, environmentally friendly secondary recyclers. Cathode ray tubes are smelted, allowing the lead to be removed from the glass so that both can be recycled. Circuit boards are ground up so that a number of different metal recovery processes can be used to reclaim the various nasty alloys that are in them.

Why do you do this?

Computers affect us all. For those of us well versed in the digital arts, the computer can be a tool for good. But for those who do not have access to technology nor to a computer of their own, the digital world can be a complete abyss of terror and confusion. It may be cliche to speak about the digital divide, but there's really no other way to describe the gap between the digital haves and the compu-havenots. We must bridge the divide.

We serve the public by refurbishing used computer equipment for which businesses, corporations, and individual donors no longer have a use.

What about my old data?

When you donate your computer to us, you are also giving us any information that is on your hard drive, floppy disks, or CD's. It is not our policy to go traipsing around other people's hard drives looking for pictures of their penguins in burlap shorts, but we cannot be certain that your data will be safely hidden from prying eyes... unless you ask us to destroy your data at the time of recycling. Here are your options:

Do nothing
Doing nothing means that you do not care who sees your data. This allows us to simply reformat the drive and use it in a rebuilt computer.

Format the drive yourself
Formatting a hard drive is not perfect, but it is generally enough to ensure that most folks won't be able to read your old data. The disk will remain in working order and we will be able to format it a second time and use it in a rebuilt computer. However, formatting your hard drive might require you to consult with a geek for help.
If you want to format your drives, here are a couple tools that may be useful. WARNING! Use them at your own risk. If they work as advertised, (they do) they will irrevocably destroy your data. These are freeware data destruction applications for use on AMD/Intel/new Macs. They will not work on older macs or esoteric hardware.
DBAN Floppy Use this if your system boots from a floppy.
DBAN CD Use this if your system boots from CD.

Pay us to either wipe or degauss your drive
For a fee (see sidebar), we will completely wipe your hard drive and install a fresh operating system so your hard drive can be reused. If the hard drive cannot be wiped, it will be degaussed.
We have a giant degausser. It is basically a metal box with massive electromagnets inside. When we turn it on, the magnets are switched on and off in a cyclical fashion, creating a magnetic field around the box that will destroy anything that uses magnetic memory. As such, using our degausser is the most effective and permanent way to remove your data from this mortal coil. It is perfectly all right for you to remove your drive yourself before you arrive. Degaussing a drive renders it useless. After we degauss your hard drive, we cannot use it in a rebuilt computer.

Household Electronics Pick-Up Service

Free pick-up service for Berkeley residents.

If you reside in Berkeley, we will come pick up your household electronics and will not charge a pick-up fee. Call us at 528-4052 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a pick-up of your encroaching computers and other electronic stuff.