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How to safely dispose of old computers

Technology changes quickly—and becomes obsolete even more quickly. To keep up with this tech-driven era, it only makes sense to upgrade your organization’s computers, phones and hardware every few years as newer technology becomes available.

But what should you do with unwanted electronics? While it may seem like useless metal and plastic, outdated technology holds a lot of sensitive information.  Information you presumably do not want to be made public. Realizing that the proper disposal of outdated technology is your responsibility and that your private information is there for the taking is the first step in protecting yourself and your business.

Working with a business that is accredited by the National Association for Information Destruction is the first place to start.  These professionals make it easy to know what to destroy and what to recycle, ensure you maintain an unbroken chain of custody and follow applicable environmental laws.

Protect your data before you get rid of tech.

Once you decide to replace a piece of technology, determine what data on that device needs to be backed up so it can be properly uploaded to the new equipment. Move important files and personal information over and sign out of all accounts. When you have everything you need off your old device, use a program to delete and overwrite the data or perform a factory reset to make retrieving data more difficult.

Secure data destruction companies like DataShield can assist you by destroying data on any information bearing device, and make sure the rest of the components are properly broken down to be recycled.

To donate or not to donate.

While you may have an interest in donating your old tech to your favorite nonprofit there are a few things you should consider first.  Does the technology have a hard drive or another memory device?  If it does, it’s imperative you remove this before sending it down the line.  Second, is there really any life left in the equipment or are you creating a disposal issue for the nonprofit? If the tech you no longer need is less than five years old, it’s possible someone else may be able to use it. Extending a computer’s lifespan through reuse may be an option but only if the operating system and software are still in use and supported.

Donating old equipment is not a bad idea, but there are a variety of factors worth considering before you make the final decision.  Ultimately, if you want verifiable destruction with a certificate to prove it donating is not an option.  Knowing that your information is protected, and you have met environmental requirements may outweigh your interest in donating.

Recycle obsolete computer parts.

Irreparably broken or unneeded tech should be recycled. Electronic recycling is the responsible and lawful way to properly get rid of equipment that has no useful life left. Keeping electronic waste out of landfills reduces the impact on our environment and allows the materials that are recoverable to be recovered. When data destruction is a part of disposal shredded material is salvaged and smelted. DataShield recycles most electronics and shreds anything that is information-bearing.

At DataShield, we take ethical, responsible electronic recycling seriously and work to keep our clients’ data safe while preserving the planet. The next time you get a shiny new piece of technology, make sure to think through how your old electronics are being handled to ensure your information is protected.


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