How To Safely Dispose Of Old Computers

How to safely dispose of computers and other technology devices

When you get rid of sensitive paper documents, it’s a good idea to shred or burn them to help protect your privacy and prevent identity theft. Similarly, it’s important to erase your personal information from computers (desktop, laptop, or tablet) and other devices (smartphone, gaming consoles) before you dispose of or donate them.

If your device was provided to you by your employer, or if you own a small business, you may also risk loss of intellectual property, legal penalties, and potential damage to your corporate reputation.

So, what should you do?

1: First you should back up the files or data you want to keep

Start the process by making a copy of your information somewhere else like a portable USB drive. To create a backup of the files on a computer running Windows, you can use the Backup and Restore feature that’s built into Windows Vista and Windows 7, or File History in Windows 8. If you’re moving your files to a new computer, you can use Windows Easy Transfer to transfer your files from one computer running Windows to another.

2: Choose the best option for removing your data

Simply reformatting a disk or reinstalling the operating system does not guarantee the old data is unreadable. Your two best options for data removal are to use a certified refurbisher (this is the preferred course of action for business computers) or you can do it yourself. The following information will help you choose what is most suitable for your situation.

Microsoft has a listing of authorized technology refurbishers that can help you with data destruction and proper disposal practices. You can see them at this website: http://www.microsoft.com/refurbishedpcs/Disposal.aspx

If this high end disposal service is beyond your needs, you do have a couple FREE download options to Do-It-Yourself:

1: Softpedia’s DP Wiper:
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Security/Security-Related/DP-WIPER.shtml

2: Active @ KillDisk:
http://www.killdisk.com/

The 2 FREE applications mentioned above are tried and true and their websites are not infected with any drive by Trojan attacks. I DO NOT recommend simply opening up Google or any other search engine and searching for Disk Wipe utilities. In testing this, I found that more than ½ of the links I checked were in fact infected with some type of Trojan trying to infect my system. REMEMBER – anytime you search for something “FREE” you’re apt to get more trouble than you bargain for…

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