Even if it has been a long while since you’ve purchased your new computer, there’s a good chance that your old computer is still hanging around. Filling up closets or just sitting on a shelf in the garage, old computers are some of the most notorious squatters in your home. Still, there’s a certain complexity comes with getting rid of the darn things. Not only are they loaded with hazardous or valuable materials, they may also contain sensitive information. In this piece, we’re going to look at how to responsibly say goodbye to your old computers and mobile devices.
Back Up Your Data
If your computer still boots up, hop on and take a look around for sensitive contents. If the computer connects to the internet, you will probably be able to back up your files to an offline service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. If the computer is not able to connect to the internet, you may need to use a physical external hard drive to remove important documents. Some higher capacity flash drives may actually be able to help if you don’t have much to offload. Price out the options. Sidenote: Backing up your data on a regular basis is a good idea regardless of whether or not you plan to dispose of a computer or other device.
How To Get Rid of Sensitive Information
One of the scary aspects of selling, giving away, or even trashing an old computer is someone accessing personal information you thought you got rid of. Let’s walk through how to make sure your documents are safe.
Sign Off & Deauthorize Everything
Just like you’d close the windows before you move out of a house, make sure that nothing else can access your data by signing out/off and deauthorizing any installed products. Make certain that you’re signed out of every program and that the device is deauthorized for any software product or service. Completely delete your browser history and downloaded files. Leaving even one application connected to an outside service on your computer can expose other sensitive data to whomever else comes across your computer after it’s out of your hands.
Do a “Wipe” of Your Hard Drive
You may think you’re in the clear by simply deleting sensitive files after they have been exported. Sadly, the contents of those files may still be hiding in your hard drive. In order to truly wipe your hard drive, you will more than likely need to use an external wiping program to make sure that your digital files are “shredded.” If you plan on disposing of your computer and want to make absolutely sure that no one will be able to access any sensitive data, some have recommended physically destroying the hard drive. This can be done by removing it and either smashing the plates inside the hard drive with a hammer or drilling a hole through the plates. Because of safety concerns, we don’t recommend physically destroying your hard drive.
Never Throw a Computer In the Trash
Even though the title of the article contains the word “dispose”, this does not mean you’re throwing anything in the trash. Computers, mobile devices, and most other electronics should never just be thrown out with household trash. The first reason is due to the environment. Some of these devices contain materials that may be hazardous to the environment such as lead or mercury. The second reason is because of how recyclable these devices are. Almost every ounce of these devices can be recycled. Many of these computers and devices even contain gold.
Ask About Trade-Ins or Recycle
Wherever you’re purchasing your new computer, ask them if they take older computers in on trade. You may find that your old computer may actually even shave off some of the cost off of your new computer. Even if they won’t take the computer in on trade, many computer sales companies or other electronics stores will accept computers for recycling.
Still Not Sure? Bring Your Computer To Geek Rescue
If you don’t feel comfortable about disposing of your computer properly, whether you don’t think you could adequately wipe the hard drive or properly recycle it, bring it to the computer specialists at Geek Rescue. At Geek Rescue, we can lay your computer rest in the safest way possible. If you’re not sure whether or not to get rid of your computer, we can see if there’s anything that can be done to save it.