How to Recycle Your Old Computer and Hardware

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Do you know what to do with your old computer, laptop, or hardware when you are done with them? This isn’t something that you should throw in the dumpster and call it good. There is a lot of sensitive information on your devices, like your passwords and account numbers, so it is important to make sure you aren’t disposing of your items and giving your information to the next owner. Disposing of your computer and hardware is another important task that takes careful consideration. These types of materials are filling up our landfills across the US so proper disposal is critical to our environment.

In honor of America Recycles Day – November 15th, Protek would like to show you the best way to recycle.

Backup Your Old Computer

First and foremost, save your important files. Back up your files and transfer them to your new computer. We like to use an external hard drive. If you looking to back up in the cloud, there are several syncing solutions you can look at such as OneDrive, Google Drive or Box. Each one gives you different free storage options and then you can buy additional storage for a reasonable amount if needed.

Delete Personal Information

After backing up your files, you can transfer them to a new machine or access your online backed up files wherever you have access to the internet. Being able to access your files on the cloud can be very convenient, it is important to note that some syncing options will save the image at a lower quality than its original source. Make sure you when you save your images, you aren’t diminishing the integrity of the file.

Wipe Your Hard Drive

If you delete files thinking this will remove the actual image or information off your hard drive, think again. It might not show up in a general search, but the old files are still there and the bad guys can use data recovery programs to retrieve them if they want. Here are a few things you can to make sure your files and images no longer exist on your computer.

  1. Uninstall Your Programs – Some programs contain personal information like your name, address, or other details. It is important to uninstall any programs before disposing of them on your computer.
  2. De-authorize Your Computer – There are some programs like Microsoft Office, that only allow you to install their software on one computer at a time. If you don’t de-authorize your old computer with your accounts, you might not be able to add them to your new computer.
  3. Delete Your Browsing History – Many browsers save information about your browsing history and can even restore you user names and passwords with access to it. This is something you obviously want to avoid at all costs. Click on the cog wheel of your internet browser or the three dots on the upper right hand corner and go to the safety option and then Delete Browsing History. Make sure you check all the boxes so everything gets removed. Do this for all the browsers you may have used on your computer.
  4. Overwrite and delete sensitive files – We have all had sensitive files on our computer from one to another so make sure you delete them and use specialized software to delete them. We use something called, WiebeTech Drive eRazer Ultra. 
  5. Verify Disposal Policies – If you use your computer for business purposes, you will need to check with you employer about how to manage their business information on your computer when you are ready to upgrade or dispose of it. NIST has set up guidelines for how to dispose of old equipment. If you gather information from you clients or customers, familiarize yourself with these guidelines so you are in compliance.
  6. Wipe Your Hard Drive – It is important to perform a factory reset on your computer or device to ensure all your personal files and software programs are removed. If you would like to completely destroy the hard drive on your old device, Protek has a way to do that. This is a free service for our customers. Call us at 801.999.4767 to set that up.

America Recycles Day encourages us to recycle, and use products made from recycled material. Recycling is not difficult. It sends less material to the waste stream ,and it results in consuming less of our precious and limited natural resources. The Boy Scouts of America has the right slogan for this topic: “Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle”. Make a conscious effort to recycle your old computers and devices this month in honor of American Recycles Day.