Even the best technology on the shelf today has an expiration date. Sooner or later, those once great PCs your company invested in end up outmoded, broken down, and in need of replacement. But getting rid of technology carries its own risks, so make sure that you protect your data (and the environment!) by following these steps:
1. Understand the Risks
Your computer holds more of your personal or corporate information than you may think. This information may be in the form of easily accessible tax returns, medical information, addresses, phone numbers, or password documents, or it may be far less visible in the form of license keys, registration numbers, or backup files from websites or your operating system. Even if you delete these files or reformat your hard drive, wiping all information, that data can still be harvested by determined individuals. The only way to be safe is to completely root out that information, or to physically destroy the drive.
2. The Hard Drive
Virtually all of the danger to your data comes from your computer’s hard drive, the long-term memory your computer uses to store information from day-to-day and year-to-year. Therefore, the hard drive is the sticking point when it comes to device disposal. There are several effective options for dealing with the hard drive once you have safely removed and backed up any data you need to save.
a. Remove the hard drives and store them in a safe location such as a company archive.
b. Use a robust utility program to destroy the data bit by bit beyond recovery.
c. Physically destroy the drive (safely!). This can be accomplished by disassembling the device and using sandpaper on the disks, putting several nails through the drive with a nail gun, or by having the device sent to a special data elimination service.
3. The Rest of the Computer
If you’ve followed step two, your data is secure and you’re ready to get rid of the rest of the computer. Just remember that most computer equipment contains hazardous materials that don’t belong in a landfill, and therefore don’t belong in your trash. Fortunately there are a number of other great options for getting rid of old work computers.
a. Resell It – If you’re a large enough company you may want to consider having an option to sell off old computer equipment to your employees, or have a raffle or giveaway. EBay and certain internet vendors are a great place to try to capitalize on old technology as well. Just be sure to let them know whether or not the equipment will include a hard drive and operating system.
b. Recycle It – Recycling is a great option that keeps heavy metals out of landfills. Most computer manufacturers have mail-in recycling programs for old technology, and some big box stores and local governments host drop off programs.
3. Donate it – A great option for tax deductions, computer donations can provide computers to organizations which repair and refurbish the technology for use in schools, nonprofit programs, or as a fundraising option for the same.
For more information on computer hardware and IT management in and around Walnut Creek, CA contact today at 925-528-9081.