Computer Recycling

  • What do you do with that computer sitting in your closet?
  • What do you do about the data on that computer?
  • What kind of data is on the computers hard drive?
  • Is my computer safe to give to a friend or relative?
  • Is it safe to put that machine out with the trash

These are just a few of the questions that a person should consider before that computer can be recycled.  The environmental side of this conversation is only going to be referenced briefly.  I will provide some links that will allow you to find a recycling center in your area to dispose of your computer.  Office Depot offers a technology recycling program.

  • What kind of data is on the computers hard drive?

I would like to address a couple of the questions above.  What kind of data do you have on your computer?  It is probably an older computer that you are getting rid of, which means that you may have older software and less secure software on your computer.  The older browser may have held your credit card or user names and passwords that a newer more modern browser may have fixed.  You might have pictures that you have downloaded that may be private or even family pictures that are for just your own family.  How do you prevent this from being given out?

Back up any data before you do this.  There are some simple methods to avoid this issue.  One of the 99.999% most effective methods of preventing your data being released is to remove the hard drive from the computer and store the hard drive. The hard drive is one of the smallest pieces of the computer so easy to store.  If you need to dispose of the hard drive and have access to a drill you can put two holes in the platter.  This prevents the hard drive from being used.  When you drill the hard drive you should aim for the physical platter of the hard drive.  If you drill the two holes 90 degrees apart, that platter will never be able to spin up again.  The above methods are the most aggressive of my suggestions.

Example of points to drill the hard drive

Where to drill the hard drive

Anther method of disposal is a shredding company.  Many of the companies out there offer a service that will shred the physical hard drive.  (Run it though an industrial wood / metal chipper). This will also guarantee complete destruction of the hard drive.

  • Is my computer safe to give to a friend or relative?

If you would like to give away your computer to something like a charity, then you should run a program that will delete all data from your computer.    There is a simple program you can download from the internet called Boot and Nuke.  This program will do exactly what it says.  You download this file to a floppy disk, boot off it, and it will over write every file and bit on your computer.  Obliterating all data on the hard drive.  http://www.dban.org/ is the place to get this utility.  There is a download on this site as well at http://www.dban.org/download The link to the cd / dvd version is found at DBAN CD / DVD version.  There is one more utility that is faster and as secure as the DBAN process but it may be a bit geekier to perform.  It is called Secure Erase and should work on drives after the 2001-2002 time frame.

One other method that will leave your computer, as a computer is to simply run the restore disks on your computer.  I would recommend that you run a disk defrag on your computer before you do the recovery.  This will move your data around before you format the computer during the recovery process.  It is important that during the recover when it asks or states that you will lose all data you answer yes.  The program normally will start by formatting the hard drive and then installing everything as if it was factory fresh.  At this point you can do the updates to the computer and feel fairly safe that 99% of the data of the drive will have been formatted and destroyed.  This method is not 100% safe due to a “Professional Restoration Company” may be employed to recover data from this machine but that process is not an inexpensive thing.  So please donate to a friend or family that needs a computer.  If the computer is worth doing so with.

I don’t recommend re-use of the drive with out Dban or Secure erase, since programs such as recuva allow anyone to recover deleted & formatted data fairly simply.

  • Is it safe to put that machine out with the trash

What do you do now?  If the computer is one that can be reused and is in working condition, you can many times donate it to various charities.  Goodwill many times will take this type of donation.  This will sometimes entitle you to a tax write off, but not always.  There may be people who can use it for kids who need a machine for homework.  This will give your equipment a second life, before it heads off to the landfill.

There are no set ways to get rid of your computer.  The SPSA (local waste management) does not have a specific policy on recycling e-waste.  That means they may very well pick up your computer with the rest of the trash.  In theory, best buy, and other locations such as Office Max also offer recycling but there is many times a fee for this.  The theory is it will be a more responsible recycling than throwing it in a landfill.

17 Comments to “Computer Recycling”

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