Throwing Out an Old Computer? Protect your Data beforehand.

Throwing Out an Old Computer? Protect your Data beforehand.

Small company IT hardware checklist

New innovations and security require us to have an up-to-date computer. When you do buy one, we are tempted to just throw our older computer in the trash, but should we? Definitely not!

There are a few things that need to be done to secure your data and private information.

Back up your data

Do you have files that are still on your computer? These would include photos, videos, and important documents. If you would like to keep these files and keep them safe, here are a few options:

  • The cloud: There are many cloud storage services that are free or have reasonably priced subscriptions. It depends on much storage you need. A few that are widely known are Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud. However, there are so many different options to choose from.
  • External storage device: You can use a USB device for a quick solution, but for more stability, an external hard drive is great. External hard drives offers more storage capability and you can move data from your computer to the drive in a shorter amount of time.
  • Your new computer: Transfer your data from your former computer to your new computer. Every computer is different and your brand most likely provides instructions for a more direct transfer.

Sign out of accounts and uninstall programs

Be sure to sign out of your online accounts before disposing of your computer. This will protect your personal information such as your username and passwords. Also, be sure to disconnect any Bluetooth devices you may have attached to your computer.

Your programs may have your personal information too, such as your name and contact information. Please uninstall any of those programs.

Erase your Hard Drive

It is not enough to just delete your documents, because they can be restored from your hard drive/SSD by a special software. You can first delete them, but you also need to protect your information by encrypting your drive or erasing the information from it.

  • For a Windows computer with a hard drive, you can use programs that erase files from your drive, or return your computer to the factory setting. If, for example, you have a Windows 7 computer, you can go to Start > Recovery > Advanced Recovery Methods > Choose your advanced recovery method. However, you would need to have a recovery partition and a windows installation disc.
  • For older Macs with hard drives, you can choose Secure Empty Trash option. This encrypts your erased data.
    • Click on the Trashcan icon on the Dock and keep holding it > Click on the trash icon while holding down the Command key. The Empty Trash option will transform into Secure Empty Trash. Click on it.
  • If you have a Windows 10 computer with a SSD, you can use drive encryption. This drive encryption is called BitLocker Drive Encryption. It can be found under Control Panel > System and Security > Bitlocker Drive Encryption.

How to safely dispose of your computer

Companies or individuals will try to keep their computers as long as they can, but there will come a time when the computer wont work anymore. So what can be done with it?

  • Do not throw it in your trash can or dumpster: There are parts of a computer that are toxic to the environment (mercury and lead), and parts that can be used for materials elsewhere (copper and aluminum).
  • If your computer can still be used, you can donate it to a charity or community organization. Or resell it.
  • If your computer is fully spent with no hope of working again, I would recommend recycling it. However, there are places that do not recycle responsibly. There are a few places that are certified under the Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) that meet the R2 standard. There are also computer retailers that offer recycling or trade-in services, Staples, for example.

Is your network and computer secure and up-to-date? Please reach out to Paul@zianetworks.net to find out more.