Securing your Devices Before Discarding

Technology is evolving at a breakneck pace. Just a decade ago mobile phones were fairly large and had antennas. Technology like ipads, iphones and Apple watches were not even a twinkle in the eye of Steve Jobs yet. Today mobile devices have become more than just a fun accessory. They have become a crucial part of our daily life, both for personal and business use. Unfortunately, once a device has passed, it usually is decommissioned and disposed. How should that be done?  What about all that information on the device?  Let’s examine how to securely dispose of your computer technology after your business has retired it.

 

  • Eliminate Access – Ensure that you eliminate any accounts or other access to business systems associated with the decommissioned equipment. A former employee or disgruntled employee could access your system using old technology. You don’t want lingering network access accounts used to remotely connect to the computer system at your work. Shut down access immediately instead of letting the device sit around the office.
  • Protect and Destroy Data – Many businesses have sensitive data on their hard drives and on the devices that are carried around to clients. Reformatting or so called “erasing” isn’t good enough these days. Protect any data you still need by transferring it to one of your newer devices and use tools to destroy the data. For desktop computers make sure your personal data isn’t recoverable by reasonable means, do a secure wipe; this not only deletes your data but also overwrites the data a certain number of times, which makes the data much more difficult to retrieve. For mobile devices, the easiest way to securely erase a smartphone or tablet is to encrypt the device first, then do a factory reset. First, though, remember to backup any files you want to keep and remove the microSD and SIM cards.
  • Check Twice – After you’ve deleted your personal and business information, it’s good to double-check to make sure it’s gone. Check your: phone book, logs for both dialed and received calls, voicemails, sent and received emails and text messages, downloads and other folders, search histories, and personal photos. If you stored apps on your device, remove them and the data associated with them.
  • Discard Using Environmentally Friendly Methods – Once you have a clean desktop, phone or tablet, you have several options: recycling through the manufacture or local recycling program, donate it to a non-profit, or go the old fashioned way through the garbage. Before you decide what method you plan on using check with the Environmental Protection Agency to see if there are rules about how to dispose of each type of device.

How do you get rid of old electronics?

If your business is like many businesses, you probably have a back storeroom that has a pile of old devices, misfit gadgets and ancient computers. These discarded fossils are collecting dust and taking up valuable space in your office or possibly your home. While we all know the drill when it comes to disposing of paper, plastic and aluminum via recycling programs, we often hold onto old electronics because we don’t really know what to do with them.  Are there any parts that could be of use?  Can it just be pitched or does it need to be recycled? Here is some valuable information on getting rid of your technology safely and some resources that will guide you along the way.

Recycling in a digital world can be a little intimidating. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average home contains about 28 electronic devices including: laptops, smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. That number jumps remarkably for even small businesses. Many states have started passing e-waste regulations to save landfills from being inundated with electronics that could be dangerous. So far, 25 states have passed legislation mandating statewide e-waste recycling. Several more states are working on passing new laws or improving existing laws. If you are unsure where your state stands check out the E-Waste Map.

Looking to unload your fossil pile somewhere?  There are options available that you may want to consider and some steps you should take before you eliminate your old electronics.

  • Wipe The Memory – It doesn’t matter whether you are going to recycle the device, sell it or dismantle it for parts, always clear the memory so that the information (personal or business related) can not be uncovered. Be sure to backup the data before you do a final wipe.
  • Sell– This option is attractive to many businesses because it would be great to recoup some of the cost of the appliance. Look into options like: eBay, Craigslist, or kiosks like EcoATM. Mail-in services like Gazelle.com are also an option if you don’t mind waiting a week or more for the money.
  • Recycle – This option may mean waiting for your local electronics day or e-waste day. Your first step should be checking the manufacturer’s website to find recycling options. Large retail chains like Staples, BestBuy and Radioshack also have product drop off locations and even gift card options available.
  • Donate – A great tax break might be in your future if the technology is not completely outdated and the devices could be of use to a non-profit or community program.  Talk to local business leaders to see if there is a program in your area.

 

Recycling your old Equipment

Most businesses cycle their computers every 3-5 years; however, that is not always possible for all of the computers in the office. Purchases are often staggered for budgeting purposes. In many cases, that means that odd computers and technology often gather and before you know it, half a closet is filled with old equipment.

The question of what should be done with your old computer can be troublesome. Computers and old CRT monitors can contain hazardous materials and you cannot dispose of them in your regular trash. Still, you do have a few options. You can either recycle or donate the hardware for reuse. There are many non-profit organizations that will take old computers and either re-purpose them or recycle the physical pieces, and the proceeds often benefit charities. One such organization is RecycleComputers4Cancer. Their proceeds go to funding cancer research and providing technology for cancer patients. The donations are tax deductible and they may even pick up the equipment (this depends on the condition of the equipment). They also take many other items that you may have around the office collecting dust, such as server and network racks, PDAs, phones, mobile devices, printers, and many more.

There are also other ways to recoup some value out of older hardware. There are many online resources for sites which will buy the old equipment and often refurbish it and then sell them online. These sites are much stricter about the age and condition of the computer however, as they are looking for some return on their investment.

recycling

If those are not an option for your business, most local communities often have an electronics store that sells computers or you can contact your local municipality. Most of these organizations will take the equipment for a nominal fee.

Before donating the computer you should leave the system intact and have a technician clean all of the personal information from the hard drive. Drive wiping software can easily do this but can take a few hours to finish. This way you can have the peace of mind knowing that any private data is securely wiped from the drive.

If you need help finding a recycling center to recycle your hardware or a qualified computer company that refurbishes the hardware as a tax deductible donation please ask an M&H technician by calling us at 866-9MH-TECH or email us at support@mhconsults.com

old computer recycling comic