When Recycling Older Computers, Business Must Take These Steps to Protect their Organization
We all know how important it is to recycle computers and electronics—at the very minimum everyone should be aware about the dangers and toxins--e.g. lead and mercury and other carcinogens—associated to the material some deices. If not properly recycled or dumped into a landfill these elements could end up in our environment, poisoning the water or air. But, recycling old computers or electronics is not just good for the environment, it clears up space, reduces the amount of clutter and decreases the risk of data from causing security breaches.
New devices are surfacing rapidly with a host of manufactures competing for space by making units far more compact, better, faster and more efficient than the next—and this has quickly becoming the norm. Consumers and businesses have increased budgetary spending for hardware and software, since speed and the latest technology translates into efficiency and better business practices. New equipment, machines and devices are purchased as soon as they come to market, yet reluctant to let old machines out of sight. In fact, according to the EPA, only 38% of old computers were recycled in 2009. The percentage of cell phones collected for recycling was even less, registering only at 8%. Although these percentages have likely improved in recent years, this still leaves far too many electronics left to gather dust and take up space.
Old, Outdated, Legacy Devices Increase Data Security Risks
The number one reason given for failure to recycle is concern over privacy and the security of data on the device. The average person has no idea how to make a hard drive unreadable or how to remove personal information from a mobile device. If your devices no longer work, you have less chances of knowing how to access the data stored on it. As time passes you forget what information was stored on the hard drive or in the folders, which increases the chance of keeping these devices stored instead of recycled.
Outdated and non-working devices, are just that. The data is still there, and the files contain information, the device is just old.
Here are some tips for preparing your old devices for recycling, so you can feel confident releasing them from under your watchful eyes.
- Backup Data -This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of people who forget this basic step. Before erasing anything on a device, computer or mobile device, make sure there is a backup copy. There are many options to choose from to backup your data--external hard drives, internal servers and virtually in the cloud.
Once this step is complete, you can, with a clear mind, go on to permanently deleting all information from the original device. Unless your back up fails, but that is another story, another time.
- Utilize a Data Erasing Program - When you delete a program or a file, your computer simply moves it to another location on the hard drive. Even “emptying” the recycle bin will not completely erase data. Programs exist that can retrieve data, even if the files have been deleted and the hard drive is reformatted. Even though you may never need to access this data again, even if your old computer no longer works or even if it doesn’t turn on, the data is still on the drive! it’s good to apply the “better safe than sorry” rule—and use a data erasing program.
Data erasing programs can render the information on a drive unreadable by overwriting the data with meaningless symbols. This makes the original data unreadable and unrecoverable.
- For a Personal Computers (PC) there are several download programs (free) like Kill Disk that can be burned onto a CD, DVD or USB device. Then, following the program’s instructions—a hard drive can be completely erased.
- Apple provides detailed instructions for Mac users on how to securely erase data, and there are programs like Paragon.
- To erase data from a mobile device, first delete all information then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for doing a factory hard reset. After that remove the SIM card and cut it in half.
3. Physical Destruction - If you’re still concerned about ensuring the complete eradication of data, you can physical destroy the hard drive. We don’t recommend smash the device or drive with a hammer, this can be difficult and tiny pieces may fly everywhere. Instead, you can contact a recycling company that provides hard drive shredding services. A shredded device is completely destroyed and final.
Recycling old computers is good for the environment, reduces clutter, frees up storage areas in and around the office and decreases the risk of data breach offering a layer of protection. Leveraging these tips will prepare your organization when recycling computers or data containing devices
Southeastern Data Manages Assets So You Don’t Have to!
Southeastern Data is a full service IT Asset Management and Electronics Recycling Companythat specializes in helping organizations manage their surplus, obsolete and electronic waste materials through responsible and cost-effective electronics recycling and remarketing solutions.
Southeastern Data is committed to protecting the environment by minimizing what goes into landfills or Ewaste that is exported. E-Recycling is the solution to computer obsolescence, it but must be done while maintaining transparency and compliance with State, Local and Federal Regulations. Next time your organization needs help managing assets contact Southeastern Data – Southeasterndata.com.