Recycled Laptops Securely

You don’t know where your old Laptop might end up after you get rid of it.

How to securely dispose of redundant laptop and pc’s. This ensures your personal data doesn’t end up in the hands of criminals or scammers.

How to dispose of old laptop computers

Back-up your data

Anything you need to save before you give your laptop away is to backup your data.

The best back-up device is dependant on how much data you have. The most trusted ways are:

External hard drives or USB Keys, Cloud storage e.g. Google Drive through your Gmail account. Dropbox a 3rd party cloud storage or Microsoft OneDrive which comes with Windows 10 pre installed.

But you need to make sure you have enough space to backup your files. Most FREE services only come with limited space for cloud storage. For additional space you’ll need to purchase either a one off payment or any ongoing subscription.

Delete your data

Your main worry when you think about how to dispose of laptop computers you own is what will happen to your personal data, pictures, banking info etc..

Deleting your files and emptying the recycle bin doesn’t remove them from your hard drive far from it.

They can be easily retrieved with the most basic recovery software which can be donwloaded for free from the internet.

Even formatting your hard drive or solid state drive will fail to remove your personal data from the storage device.

There is a range of software available for download which can erase your data permenantly. You will need to ensure that if your erasing with a secure program. And that it uses either the UK or US standard for data sanitization.

Secure Data Destruction

These standards are the US version of DoD 5220.22-m or the UK HMG Infosec IS5 enhanced method. Enhanced overwriting involves three passes; each sector is overwritten first with 1s, then with 0s, and then with randomly generated 1s and 0s.

Physical Destruction

Physically Destroy your hard drive or storage media. If the idea running software fills you with dread or is too complex. A pragmatic way of getting rid your personal data is to destroy your hard drive.

Remember to back up your data beforehand as per  previous information above. If you don’t do this then you will lose your data forever.

Removing your hard drive is relatively simple and most guides can be found on Youtube. You just type you make and model of device with the qesution of how to remove hard drive:

Disconnect your PC from any power source. Remove all other cables the unit is attached to this makes it easier to manouver. Open the casing and locate the hard drive (usually connected to a flat,  thin SATA cable). Undo any screws that secure the hard drive to its caddy. then remove the hard drive.

Reduce the hard drive to tiny little pieces. Remember to wear protective goggles or wrap your hard drive in a towel to prevent being struck by flying metal. Alternativly if you have a drill available, drill with a HSS bit size 4-10 through 3 locations on the drive. Drill 2 on the roundish type section and 1 through the middle bottom ensuring the bit passes through the other side. This ensures the drive platters are damaged beyond recovery.

You can now secure in the knowledge dispose of the unit your local Household Waste and Recycling Center or Tip. No one will be able to recover any personal data from your drive.

Recycle or Reuse

Find your old PC or Laptop a new home. The units contain harmful substances like mercury, lead and arsenic so it can be tricky to know what to do with it. UK councils will not allow such dangerous materials in wheelie bins, for example.

However, there are a number of means you can dispose of your computer:

Recycle: Your local recycling centre may be able to take it. Contact them to find out if they will accept it.
Sell it: If your PC still works, you can list it on sites like eBay. Don’t worry if you have removed the hard drive as they are relatively inexpensive to replace.
Donate it: Charities like Computer Aid International refurbish your old computer and send them to developing countries. You can also give it to a local youth club, school or give it away using sites such as Freecycle.

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