Best Practices for Disposing of Old Computers

Best Practices for Disposing of Old Computers

Newer and faster laptops, phones and tablets are being released every day it seems, but what are
we supposed to do with the outdated devices we no longer want to use? The security of proprietary
and personal information and environmental issues are the primary concerns when disposing of
unwanted computers. Here are some guidelines we recommend when phasing out computers from
your business or home.

Deleting a File Does Not Actually Erase Information

When you delete a file from the hard drive, the operating system only deletes the information that
describes where the file is located. Simply deleting files, emptying the recycle bin or reformatting the
hard drive is not enough to cover your digital tracks. In addition to documents, photos, videos, and
private information that is accessible on your computer; there is also your Internet browser’s cache,
cookies and history; email contacts and messages; and the recycle or trash folder.

Don’t take a chance with the security of your business and personal information. A Computer
Troubleshooters technician can complete any of the following strategies when trying to secure your
personal information on an old device.

The most cost-effective and commonly used strategy is the use of a software utility that overwrites the
hard drive with random characters and binary data anywhere from three to more than 30 times. These
utilities are typically referred to as data destruction software, hard drive eraser software or disk wipe
software.

Another effective but more costly solution is degaussing. This is the erasure of information through the
use of a powerful magnet. Degaussing disrupts the magnetic domains on the drive, which erases your
data while also rendering the drive permanently unusable.

The physical destruction of a hard drive is the only way to absolutely and forever ensure that the data
is no longer available. There are contractors who will perform this task on site, using the appropriate
tools and safety precautions. We do not recommend this type of hard drive destruction by consumers.

Donate or Recycle Your Old Computer

Extending the computer’s lifespan through re-use provides the highest environmental benefit.
There are many donation programs that bridge the digital divide by providing schools, non-profit
organizations, military personnel, low-income families and students with needed technology.

When you donate or recycle an unwanted computer, there are a lot of details you will need to be
concerned with such as; maintaining the security of information that was stored on the computer,
locating local technology recyclers and refurbishers, and tax guidelines for charitable donations. Don’t
feel overwhelmed by all of these details. Let your local Computer Troubleshooters take on the burden.
One of our professional technicians will be happy to explore the various options available to you when
deciding how best to dispose of an unwanted computer. Here are some considerations when donating
or recycling a computer:

  • If your computer is less than five years old chances are it can be put to good use. Most organizations have specific technology needs, so inquire in advance regarding donation guidelines.
  • Most charitable contributions are tax deductible and computers are no exception. Business donors can generally deduct the un-depreciated value of the computer and individuals can deduct the current market value of a computer. Remember to retain your receipt for tax records.
  • Consider donating your unwanted computer to a refurbisher who is equipped to repair and upgrade older computers. Certified refurbishers ensure that equipment works well and will pass on ready-to-use equipment at little or no cost to individuals and organizations. It is recommended that you remove your hard drive from any system that you donate to a refurbisher to ensure the security of your data.
  • Even if a computer cannot be reused or refurbished there are reputable technology recyclers that can ensure valuable raw materials are recovered from old computers and that any waste is disposed of in an environmentally-safe and responsible manner.
  • Let your local Computer Troubleshooters do all the work for you. Our technicians are trained experts in making sure your personal information is secure and responsibly disposing of unwanted devices.

Click here to contact your own Computer Troubleshooters technician.

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