Refurbish, in everyday language, is "to renew or to restore to a new condition and/or appearance". In the computer world, refurbished equipment is not necessarily defective in any way; it may just be "old" (a relative term in the world of computers). When hardware is refurbished, the components are examined and non-working parts are replaced.
Companies that lease computers may use refurbishing as a means of dealing with units that are returning from long-term leases; after the computers are refurbished, they may be sold at a reduced price or donated to charity - either of which is good for business. Corporations may buy refurbished computers and hardware for a number of reasons. Refurbished hardware costs less than new hardware, which makes it possible for small businesses to make the move to computerized operations for the first time or for businesses with limited means to buy higher quality computers for less money. Another reason for a corporation to buy refurbished equipment is to maintain corporate standards by ensuring that all employees have the same equipment, even when the model being used is not being sold any longer.
There are additional reasons for choosing refurbished hardware if a company is already computerized. For example, there may be a corporate plan to use desktop computers for three years before upgrading to newer ones. In the latter part of the three-year period, equipment purchases may be needed for new staff or to replace a component that no longer works. Since the corporation intends to replace all desktop computers in the near future, the purchasing department may not want to pay full price for any new equipment at the end of this three-year period. Refurbished computers provide a cost-effective alternative.
A number of organizations, such as StRUT (Students Recycling Used Technology), the National Cristina Foundation, and the Resource Area for Teachers (RAFT) collect and refurbish donated computer equipment for redistribution to schools and charities around the world.