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How to Ensure Safe Computer Recycling

How to Ensure Safe Computer Recycling

If you, like many others, have several old computers sitting at the back of your cupboard or collecting dust in the attic, you may want to think about how to recycle your computer safely. Whether they are physically broken, have insufficient specifications, malfunctioning hardware or are simply just too old, think about giving them to someone else to use or fix. However, if your gadget really is unsalvageable, you should always consider recycling electronics.


When should you replace your computer?

How to dispose of your old laptop securely?

    1. Back-up your data

    2. Deleting your personal data

        - How to destroy a hard drive before recycling a computer? 

    3. Transferring your data 

        - Secure your data

    4. Recycle your computer safely

When should you replace your computer?

 Photo credit: NicoElNino / Shutterstock

According to Norton Internet Security: “Users should replace their computer devices every four years. Not everyone will need to upgrade his or her computer every four years, but it’s a good rule to follow to ensure your data is safe and properly protected online.”

Therefore, every year, ask yourself “when was the last time I bought a new computer?” If you can’t remember, the chances are you may be due for an upgrade. So, once you’re ready to make the switch, you’ll need to follow a few steps to ensure your old tech has been appropriately wiped and disposed of safely.

You can't just throw your old computer in the bin.

This doesn’t mean throwing your old laptop in the bin, though, as this can be highly detrimental to the environment and will leave your sensitive information out in the open for criminals to find. You don’t want someone else finding out your personal details and having access to your photographs and phone numbers or committing fraud – the last thing you want.

How to dispose of your old laptop securely?

1. Back-up your data

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Firstly, before selling, giving away or recycling tablets, laptops or mobile phones, you should back-up all of your data and wipe all of your personal information from the device.

Begin by erasing or removing your hard drive from your laptop before disposal. This includes all documents, spreadsheets, photos and emails – anything that may contain any personal details and data that can be used by criminals. This may seem obvious, or you may think there’s nothing you need saved on your old device, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, as some may be hidden in applications.

There are plenty of options for backing up information, including external hard drives, flash drives and online options, so select a method that works for you. Alternatively, you can get a company to do this for you for a small fee, to ensure everything is backed up properly. 

2. Deleting your personal data

 Photo credit: kazu326 / Shutterstock

You may be thinking “how to clean a computer before recycling it?”, but don’t worry, we’ve got the answers to make sure you’re recycling your computer safely to protect your data. To prevent anyone from accessing your data in the future, you’ll need to make sure it is permanently deleted; this just requires a few simple steps.  

However, it is worth noting that even when you delete files on your computer, it doesn’t actually delete the files, it just removes them from the file system’s table of contents. As a result, the data is kept on the hard drive and, until it is over-written, can be retrieved using an un-erase program.

As a result, to ensure safe computer recycling, you can download a free disk eraser online to successfully get rid of your data for you in a click of a button. After this, you should take your computer back to its factory settings by using your devices restore system. This is often found online with a simple search into Google, such as “how to reset my Dell computer back to factory settings”.

Finally, use the disk eraser to overwrite all the empty drive space on your computer, to ensure that all your information won’t be able to be retrieved at a later date by a third party. 

How to destroy a hard drive before recycling a computer?

There are a number of different ways to ensure the secure disposal of computing devices. In the past, it was always advised to pull your computer apart, remove the hard drive and destroy it with a hammer to prevent any confidential data being passed into the wrong hands. However, today, if you are just scrapping an old computer, removing the hard drive from laptop before disposal can be carried out in many ways, such as burning, smashing or shredding, for example.

3. Transferring your data 

 Photo credit: / Shutterstock

If you have backed up your data successfully before you wiped your old hard drive, putting your files back onto a new computer should be easy as pie. To do this, simply just plug in your USB or external hard drive (whatever you used to back up your data) and drag your old files onto your new computing device.

Secure your data

Now that you’ve set up a brand-new computer, and all your old data has been transferred, the next step is to secure those files on your computer. Some new computers come with a free trial of security software, but these are limited as they are only valid for a short period of time. It is worth buying a long-life security package to cover your personal information and documents, to avoid it needing to be updated or renewed constantly and becoming unprotected at any point.  

4. Recycle your computer safely

 Photo credit: / Shutterstock

Once you have successfully wiped your data, the next step is to recycle your computer safely. There are several ways to recycle computers, such as taking your device apart and selling individual components. However, the best option to ensure you are getting the most from your old device, is selling it to a new owner individual or a recycle company.

Regardless of how old the device is, or the condition, companies (such as RecycleZone) will either dispose of your computer safely or sell it in exchange for cash. If you decide to go down this route, do your research to find out what you must do to your device before sending it via post. In most cases, you must charge the device to 100% and switch it off. In addition, remember to remove any passwords or codes that will obstruct the new owner or company from getting into the device – but this tends to be sorted when you reset it back to factory settings.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to recycle your old electronics, consider other uses for your old gadgets, such as a security camera, an alarm clock, an iPod or even an e-reader. 

Feature image credit: alexmillos / Shutterstock