With technology changing and updating literally each day, it is becoming more common for people to buy new computers sooner than they did before. Also, with it being the holidays and a time for gift giving, it’s common to receive new devices (such as computers). Oftentimes, you are then left with the question of what to do with your old one. You can constantly find “electronics donation” events around town, but before you drop it off you will want to remove any information that may be stored on the computer itself. These days, it’s especially important to keep your personal information and data private to avoid the risk of identity theft. So, while it may seem a little daunting and confusing about how to make sure you’re doing the right things before getting rid of your old computer, you can have peace of mind after doing the following steps.
Remove Data – Before getting rid of your computer, you want to be sure to completely remove all the information and data. Unfortunately, simply deleting or resetting your computer will not completely erase your data. While you may not be able to to see/find the data once it’s erased, someone would be able to run a recovery program and find the information. You have to overwrite the information on the computer. This can be done with an overwriting program or you may also use a company that performs this task. Don’t forget to also delete your internet browsing history so that all of your personal information is completely erased.
Destroying the Hard Drive – Once you have wiped the data from your computer, it is best to completely destroy the hard drive to ensure that no one has any access to your information. If you are not planning on giving the computer to anyone, you can drill a few holes into the hard drive to make sure it is no longer usable. There are also companies (such as Secure E-Waste Solutions (SES) Recycling in San Diego) that will actually shred your hard drive.
Get Rid of Your Computer – After your data is wiped clean and the hard drive is completely cleared or destroyed, you can then properly dispose of the computer. There are many e-waste companies out there (like SES Recycling) that, in addition to shredding your hard drive, will also recycle your computer. If the computer is still usable, you can give it to a friend or family member or may want to donate it to a non-profit that accepts electronics (i.e. Goodwill). Sometimes only certain locations will accept the computer, so take a moment to contact them before dropping it off.