This post discusses IT disposal, and how to get rid of old computers and other gadgets. Doing this properly is crucially important if you hold personal or client data, especially when you consider legal responsibilities and legislation, such as the recent GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
Computers, especially if they’ve been around a while, practically contain our DNA.
We pay our bills, communicate with everyone from family members to clients, and even do our accounting on our computers. When we need to dispose of a computer, we can’t just casually toss it out. Proper IT disposal and data safety practices aren’t things you can skip (pardon the pun!)
It’s worth taking extra time to ensure you get rid of your old computers without exposing yourself (or your business) to risks. There are even some companies that specialise in IT disposal.
Pass it down!
If you’re looking to get rid of an old computer that still has some life left in it, it may not be necessary to throw it away. If your computer is slow and sluggish, you can uninstall everything, do a factory reset, and pass the computer down the family!
If you have a youngster in your family who wants a computer for educational games, audiobooks, or even just to watch Netflix, then pass the computer down. Kids don’t necessarily need a computer that’s lightning fast or in pristine condition (although teenagers may well want one, to play the latest games!)
Kids can practice typing or learn basic computer skills on an old computer. They can play with pre-installed paint programs, read Wikipedia, or type up their school papers. A computer of spectacular quality isn’t necessary for many basic student tasks, especially for younger students. You can let the computer live the remainder of its life as a technology learning tool or entertainment console for one of your children. You also won’t need to worry about strangers accessing your information – because strangers won’t have access to the machine.
Backing Up Your Information
Before thinking about IT disposal, you need a way to move important files from your defunct computer to your new computer.
You can safely facilitate this transfer in a number of ways: You can use a USB stick, memory card or external hard drive to transfer files offline. Alternatively, you can use services like Dropbox or Google Drive to securely store and transfer files via the cloud. They’ll be accessible from every device you own, so long as you log into your account. This is a great way to keep important files portable.
IT Disposal: Wipe Your Hard Drive
After you’ve taken everything you need off of your hard drive, you can perform a factory reset or uninstall and reinstall the operating system. This will restore the computer to its original state – the way it was when you initially purchased it.
Tools like Eraser can be used in before (or in conjunction with) a factory reset to help you cover all of your bases. These tools overwrite the drive several times so there’s no chance of anyone recovering the data. For really sensitive data, something like this is the best option.
Remove or Replace Your Hard Drive
Another option is to remove and keep your old hard drive in case you need to access it later. A hard drive is small and easy to keep in a safe. If you have it, nobody else will be able to access it. Some people keep old hard drives as secure backups. If you’ve taken everything off a hard drive, know you won’t need to use it again and are feeling destructive, you can take a drill and put a bunch of holes in it. Grab a heavy metal hammer, beat it to pieces and utterly destroy it! Data can’t be recovered from a hard drive that’s smashed into a million tiny bits.
If you still want to sell the old computer, replace the hard drive with a new one or sell it at a discount. The new owner can purchase and install their own hard drive. If the rest of the computer is fine, it won’t go to waste.
IT Disposal: Old Equipment
Some computer components, especially old-style monitors, require special IT disposal. They contain materials that won’t fare well in landfill, and so they’re best kept away from public waste disposal sites.
Call a specialist rubbish removal company to come in and take away the computer you’re throwing out. They’ll follow the proper protocol, and you won’t get in trouble for disposing of your electronics the wrong way.
If you’re still unsure of your ability to properly dispose of your computer without being hacked, you can take it to a computer consultant who can properly prepare your backups and rid you of your old computer. These people charge a fee, but if you have doubts, it’s better to leave things in experienced hands.