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Recycling an obsolete or outdated computer provides an opportunity to protect your local landfill and possibly provide a kid on the other side of the globe with access to one.  It is estimated 262.54 million computers were sold in 2017 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/273495/global-shipments-of-personal-computers-since-2006/), which suggests an equal number of old computers were replaced by them.   Although recycling a computer is good for the environment in this sense, businesses need to exercise some caution with how and whom they recycle a computer with.  In addition to vital business data, our computers also store “personal information—passwords, account numbers, license keys or registration numbers for software programs, addresses and phone numbers, medical and prescription information, tax returns and other personal documents—that you would rather not fall into the wrong hands (Suzanne Kantra, Techlicious, How to Safely Get Rid of an Old Computer, August, 2018, https://www.techlicious.com/how-to/how-to-safely-get-rid-of-an-old-computer/).”  In this blog post I’ll highlight several steps you can take to ensure your data is protected when you recycle a computer.  RB’s Computer Service has been recycling computers for over 17 years.  We can help you recycle your computer with purpose and peace of mind.

“Wipe” your hard drive clean

Simply deleting files isn’t good enough.  Even if a file name doesn’t show up on the list of available files, the old file data is still there until it is overwritten.  Data “miners” can use a data recovery program to fetch it.  Below are several steps we recommend to thwart this.

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For peace of mind, drop off your old computer to recycle at RB’s Computer Service

  1. Delete and overwrite sensitive files. Sanitizing data typically calls for using the U.S. Department of Defense standard of overwriting the disk at least three times, although some organizations may overwrite disks seven times or more.  RB’s Computer Service can help you determine the correct protocol to follow (James M. Connolly, TechTarget, Computer recycling: Dangers for even the well intentioned, March, 2008, https://searchcio.techtarget.com/tip/Computer-recycling-Dangers-for-even-the-well-intentioned).
  1. Deauthorize your computer. Some programs, such as iTunes and Microsoft Office 365, only allow you to install software on a limited number of computers or allow a limited number of computers to access your files. So be sure to deauthorize your old computer with your accounts – before uninstalling your programs (Suzanne Kantra, Techlicious, How to Safely Get Rid of an Old Computer, August, 2018, https://www.techlicious.com/how-to/how-to-safely-get-rid-of-an-old-computer/).
  1. Delete your browsing history. Do this for each and every browser on your computer, such as Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.
  1. Uninstall your programs. Some programs, such as Microsoft Office, may contain personal information such as your name and address or other details. So be sure to uninstall any programs before disposing of your computer (Suzanne Kantra, Techlicious, How to Safely Get Rid of an Old Computer, August, 2018, https://www.techlicious.com/how-to/how-to-safely-get-rid-of-an-old-computer/).
  1. Wipe your hard drive. After you have removed data from your PC, next perform a factory reset to ensure you’ve removed all of your personal files and software programs.  RB’s Computer Service can help you with this.

By following the steps listed above, recycling your computer can be for a good purpose while providing peace of mind that your data is protected.  However, there are additional steps and tools in our tool box not mentioned above.  For example, for large scale decommissioning of a network with multiple computers and servers, documenting “the chain of custody is the most important thing.  Legitimate disposal companies have a regimented chain of custody process (James M. Connolly, TechTarget, Computer recycling: Dangers for even the well intentioned, March, 2008, https://searchcio.techtarget.com/tip/Computer-recycling-Dangers-for-even-the-well-intentioned).”  Regardless of the number of computers you need to recycle, RB’s Computer Service has been doing this for over 17 years and would welcome the opportunity to help you too.

In addition to computer recycling, RB’s Computer Service provides uncomplicated managed service agreements to help you with all of your networking needs.  For help with your business, contact us via phone or email: 763-441-3884, or help@rbsmn.com.  We offer ransomware strategies, and sell the best commercial grade firewall routers, best laptop computers, best desktop computers, business computers, computer parts and computer monitors plus we do computer repair, iPhone and smartphone repair and tablet repairs to customers and clients throughout central Minnesota and St. Cloud.