Don’t look now.
In the recesses of your office drawers, stuffed in the back of cabinets, lurking under couches…
The dead wait.
Your old Blackberry. Your first-generation iPad. A dusty PC in the garage, a Chromebook in the attic. All kinds of “dead” devices peering out at us, surprising us when least expected, leaving us wondering what to do with them.
If you don’t dispose of them properly, like the living dead, your device’s information could come back to haunt you.
So, how do we bury them for good?
How to Dispose of Your Home Computers (Desktops and Laptops)
No, you can’t just place a computer on a curb and hope it meets a nice home. There are three ways that you can dispose of your home computer – you can recycle it, you can sell it or you can give it away. For any of those options, however, you’ll want to ensure that all your data is gone.
The easiest way is to physically destroy your hard drive. Some computers, however, have fixed drives, making them more difficult to destroy. When I was getting rid of an old laptop I owned, I went to my local paper shredder place, who removed my hard drive and destroyed it for me, in front of me. Before you do that, however, you’ll want to try to wipe out as much data as possible.
You can overwrite a PC’s disk by using programs like Eraser and e-Maxx. If you want even more detailed instructions and information, you can follow this in-depth guide from PC World to make sure your information is gone before you sell or give your computer away. For an Apple, you can follow their instructions here or follow these instructions step-by-step.
If you decide to recycle your computer, don’t just leave it in a random dumpster and hope for the best. Several stores offer recycling services, such as Best Buy and Staples. You can also visit the Electronics Recycling page and search for an electronics recycling center in your area. Just look for this in lower left-hand corner of the site:
How to Dispose of Your Mobile Phones and Tablets
Before you even think about disposing of your mobile phone or tablet, take a look at the FTC guidelines on mobile device disposal: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0200-disposing-your-mobile-device.
Just like with your desktop or laptop computer, you’ll want to get rid of the information on your device before recycling, selling or giving it away.
On an Apple, go to: Settings—> General —> Reset —>Erase All Content and Settings –> enter in your password —> Erase
On an Android, go to : Menu —> Settings —> Privacy —> Factory Data Reset (be sure to select both device and microSD card) —>Reset Phone —> Erase Everything
Don’t forget to remove any SIM cards your device might have (yes, your Apple device may have one too).
A good guide to follow is PC World’s article on selling your devices and protecting your data: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2022436/how-to-sell-your-old-tech-while-protecting-your-data.html
For recycling, check with your device maker or wireless provider to see if you can get any money back. eBay is another option for your mobile devices.
When deciding about what to do with your old devices, donating them is another consideration. Charity organizations you might want to check out include : Computers with Causes, Cell Phones for Soldiers, and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. If you want something closer to home, contact your local schools and community organizations to see if they accept donations.
Don’t let the dead overwhelm you – and don’t let them come back to life to haunt you! Take care of your unused and dead technology before it’s too late.