With what seems to be an exponentially increasing amount of e-waste troubling the world these days, eCycling, or the safe recycling of electronics, has luckily also seen an increase in recent years. And while simply recycling electronics to be scrapped and safely disposed of is a good thing to do, furthering the life of your old computers and phones by donating them is another viable alternative.
Today, though, we’re here to tell you that you should think twice before donating your electronics.
What You Should Know Before Donating Your Electronics
We don’t mean to suggest donating your electronics is a bad thing. Instead, we want everyone to be aware of the dangers that come with donating something that used to house your sensitive data.
Turning over old computers to organizations like Goodwill without destroying your data could result in:
- Identity theft.
- Federal fines, if you’re a business and the computers hold or held customer data.
- Others snooping through personal photos or documents.
Donating a computer, whether it’s going to ultimately be recycled or resold, should not be done without proper planning and precautions. Not taking the correct steps could lead to any one of those consequences and likely other unintended consequences.
Mitigating the Risk
What many folks don’t know is that it’s fairly easy to recover files that are simply deleted—we even wrote a blog post about the issues of just “deleting” old files. The files in your recycle bin aren’t really gone, even after you permanently delete them from that folder. To that end, simply erasing your old files before donating your computer isn’t enough. If you can’t completely destroy sensitive data through proper hard drive disposal, your data may not be completely safe.
Awareness is the Key
The most important thing to know is all the liability lies with whoever is donating the electronics. Whether you’re a company donating old computers, or an individual just looking to get rid of that one old laptop, it’s important to secure your data so that it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Donating your old devices is recommended at times, but not without first weighing the risks associated with potentially giving others access to old data. Be sure to take everything into account before you log out and send that old computer down the street. Consider working with a computer recycling service or a professional ewaste handling service.
If you have any questions about how to best keep your old data secure, contact the electronic recycling experts at DataShield today.