Best Practices for Disposing of Old Computers

Published on: May, 6th 2013 | Under: Computer Repair

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Newer and faster laptops, phones and tablets are being released every day it seems, but what are we supposed to do with the outdated devices we no longer want to use? The security of proprietary and personal information and environmental issues are the primary concerns when disposing of unwanted computers. Here are some guidelines we recommend when phasing out computers from your business or home.

Deleting a File Does Not Actually Erase Information

recycleWhen you delete a file from the hard drive, the operating system only deletes the information that describes where the file is located. Simply deleting files, emptying the recycle bin or reformatting the hard drive is not enough to cover your digital tracks. In addition to documents, photos, videos, and private information that is accessible on your computer; there is also your Internet browser’s cache, cookies and history; email contacts and messages; and the recycle or trash folder.

Don’t take a chance with the security of your business and personal information. A Computer Troubleshooters technician can complete any of the following strategies when trying to secure your personal information on an old device.

  • The most cost-effective and commonly used strategy is the use of a software utility that overwrites the hard drive with random characters and binary data anywhere from three to more than 30 times. These utilities are typically referred to as data destruction software, hard drive eraser software or disk wipe software.
  • Another effective but more costly solution is degaussing. This is the erasure of information through the use of a powerful magnet. Degaussing disrupts the magnetic domains on the drive, which erases your data while also rendering the drive permanently unusable.
  • The physical destruction of a hard drive is the only way to absolutely and forever ensure that the data is no longer available. There are contractors who will perform this task on site, using the appropriate tools and safety precautions. We do not recommend this type of hard drive destruction by consumers.

Donate or Recycle Your Old Computer

recycling computersExtending the computer’s lifespan through re-use provides the highest environmental benefit. There are many donation programs that bridge the digital divide by providing schools, non-profit organizations, military personnel, low-income families and students with needed technology.

When you donate or recycle an unwanted computer, there are a lot of details you will need to be concerned with such as; maintaining the security of information that was stored on the computer, locating local technology recyclers and refurbishers, and tax guidelines for charitable donations. Don’t feel overwhelmed by all of these details. Let your local Computer Troubleshooters take on the burden. One of our professional technicians will be happy to explore the various options available to you when deciding how best to dispose of an unwanted computer. Here are some considerations when donating or recycling a computer:

  • If your computer is less than five years old chances are it can be put to good use. Most organizations have specific technology needs, so inquire in advance regarding donation guidelines.
  • Most charitable contributions are tax deductible and computers are no exception. Business donors can generally deduct the un-depreciated value of the computer and individuals can deduct the current market value of a computer. Remember to retain your receipt for tax records.
  • Consider donating your unwanted computer to a refurbisher who is equipped to repair and upgrade older computers. Certified refurbishers ensure that equipment works well and will pass on ready-to-use equipment at little or no cost to individuals and organizations. It is recommended that you remove your hard drive from any system that you donate to a refurbisher to ensure the security of your data.
  • Even if a computer cannot be reused or refurbished there are reputable technology recyclers that can ensure valuable raw materials are recovered from old computers and that any waste is disposed of in an environmentally-safe and responsible manner.

Let your local Computer Troubleshooters do all the work for you. Our technicians are trained experts in making sure your personal information is secure and responsibly disposing of unwanted devices.


About Kim Weinberger

Kim Weinberger is the National Director of Business Development - Computer Services for Computer Troubleshooters Global. Kim has a long-standing relationship with Computer Troubleshooters that began when she and her husband bought a technology franchise in Fond du Lac, WI, in 2003. In addition to her role as a franchise owner and operator, Kim also served as a Regional Director for four years and then as an Assistant National Director for five years. In 2012, Kim became the Director of Operations for the Computer Troubleshooters Global franchise and the Geeks On Call franchise, which has since merged with Computer Troubleshooters. In 2016, Kim's role shifted to managing the growth and development of computer services for Computer Troubleshooters Global, as well as the CPR Cell Phone Repair franchise.