Saying goodbye to your older computer? 7 Tips on How to Properly Dispose of Your Computer
Are you planning to buy yourself a new computer? Any plans on what to do with your old one? You actually have two options – sell it/give it away or throw it away. However, you cannot do these two things immediately.
Your old computer contains data that can get you into a lot of trouble if it falls into the hands of someone – let’s say a fraudster. Your personal information like accounts, passwords, card numbers, addresses, and such can still be saved somewhere in your system. These need to be taken care of.
You also can’t just throw your old system away either. Aside from containing non-biodegradable materials like plastic and synthetic components, it also has numerous toxins that are harmful to the environment.
And since you can’t give away/sell or just leave your computer in the trash bin just yet, here are seven tips on how you can prepare your computer for disposal.
1. Back-up your data
If you have important documents in your computer like soft copies of IDs, tax forms, bank statements, and such, don’t forget to back them up. Also, you don’t forget to back-up your pictures and videos. It’s a good idea to backup work files too. Just don’t forget to have a few thumb drives (or DVDs – for older systems) handy for saving your files.
2. Purge all sensitive files
Important and sensitive files like tax documents, bank statements, and soft copies of IDs like your driver’s license need to be removed from the system. The problem is… simply deleting them and clearing the ‘Recycle Bin’ aren’t enough. There are applications out there that can still recover these files even if they’re already ‘permanently deleted.’
The best and safest way is to get software that purges all deleted files and their leftover fragments from the system. You can find free software that does this on reputable software download sites. Moreover, these are quite easy to use too – just install the app and click the ‘purge’ button.
3. Delete Browsing History
Browsers are the most vulnerable applications on any computer. These applications save your browsing history and your accessed files over the internet (and usually – and legally – sends this information to different companies for ‘research’ purposes). Not only that, if you’re not careful, it also saves passwords and other sensitive information. That said, a high-jacked browser is a goldmine for hackers and fraudsters. So, don’t forget to delete your browsing history before you dispose of your computer.
4. De-authorize accounts
Applications like iTunes, iCloud, and MS Office 365 only allow you to install software on a certain number of computers or devices. Don’t forget to de-authorize these apps so that you can install new instances on your new computer.
5. Uninstall all programs
All programs save some sort of personal information. For example, Microsoft Office saves your name (or username) and other particulars like employer name or even address. Browsers save your browsing history and other information you’ve provided over the internet through ‘cookies.’ To take care of info saved by apps, it’s always best to uninstall any program that didn’t come packaged with your operating system.
6. Physically ‘wipe’ your drives
The first five tips should be good enough if you’re planning to give your computer away to a family member. However, if you’re planning to throw the computer away, then the safest way to getting rid of your sensitive data is to physically destroy your hard drive. For most systems, you would just need a screwdriver to open the chassis and the drive should be easy to pull out. You can then use a power tool – like a drill or a saw – to destroy the drive (or a good ol’ hammer will do too!).
7.Know your local regulations
It is always a good idea to check your local laws on recycling electronic waste. Most, if not all, states have regulations and policies on how to properly dispose of electronics. So, you might want to do a little bit of research for what processes are in effect in your area. There are also businesses, organizations, and recycle centers that can take care of disposing your computer; and a quick online search can give you an idea of those who operate in your local community.
You may contact one of our experts to further guide or if you have any questions.