It’s hard to believe that only eight years ago, Apple released the very first iPad. Since then, tablets and smartphones have taken over from desktops and laptops as the computing devices of choice for consumers all over the world. So what should you do with that old desktop or laptop that is collecting dust in the basement storage room? You should recycle it of course! But before you do, follow these five steps to ensure your device doesn’t harm the environment, and to be certain your sensitive information doesn’t wind up in the wrong hands.
1. Save your files to the cloud or on to an external hard drive or thumb drive. Once you hand that device off to a recycler, it’s as good as gone, so make sure you save any pictures, documents, music or videos. Anything that you might want later on needs to be in your possession.
2. Wipe the hard drive or destroy the hard drive. You’ve probably been told that “formatting” your hard drive doesn’t really erase the information. That is 100% true! It merely hides the data in order to create more space for new data. So if data security is your biggest concern, you can download specialized software that will really and truly wipe your drive clean. In fact, it will overwrite the drive multiple times with random data. But in reality, if you follow the steps below, you shouldn’t have to wipe your drive at all.
3. Find out if your workplace or school has an e-waste collection program. Many organizations work closely with a preferred e-waste recycler to ensure their internal I.T. equipment gets recycled properly. It would be much easier to take your old device to work and drop it in a bin rather than driving around the city looking for a secure drop off depot!
4. Do your research! No matter where you’re dropping off your computer, make sure the company that is handling the recycling is reputable. They should be certified to multiple standards such as ISO, R2, and NAID. These certifications demonstrate that the recycling company is committed to the health and safety of its employees, to the protection of the environment, and to the security of their customers’ sensitive data. Using a certified recycler will give you peace of mind that your device won’t end up in a landfill, or worse! Plus, you can be certain the data contained on your device will be sanitized thoroughly, or destroyed altogether.
5. Let it go! That old computer isn’t doing anybody any good sitting in a closet. But did you know that old computers contain many commodities such as aluminum, copper, and even gold? Let’s get those resources out of your old computer and back into productivity. It’s good for the earth!