Posted by: Ed Becker | June 3, 2008

Recycle Your Computers – Protect Your Identity!

Green Business Technology - Good for EveryoneHave you recently purchased or received a new PC?   As you prepare to use this new computer, plan carefully what you will do with the old PC.   Above all, do not set it out at the curb for the trash unless you want to live to regret it!


Computers contain toxic ingredients.  There are environmentally friendly options to discard or recycle your PC.  Before you are good to the environment, be good to yourself and secure all the data that was on the old PC!  A failure to do so can result in your corporate information or personal identities being stolen.  Do not take the chance.  Instead follow these steps to be protected and to protect the environment. 




If you just delete files, you have not done enough.  Deleted files can easily be recovered and the data used any way the finder desires.


It is essential to either keep the hard drive, destroy the hard drive with a tool or a shredder, or erase the data using a special program for your computer.


For Windows, if you are not destroying the hard drive, use a commercial program called Windows Washer. You can also try a free software called Eraser from Heidi Computers. A Google search will reveal sources for both. 


Once you have deleted personally identifiable files and data from the hard drive, you can dispose of your old computer.


First, tell your circle of contacts.  Ask your technology provider, friends, co-workers. Someone you know may want your old computer. If not, a school or charity might be able to use it. Charities can refurbish your machine and give it to someone in need.


Schools and charities do not accept just any old thing. Most organizations have standards for equipment they will accept.  Do not be surprised if your old computer will not meet those standards.  The primary test for acceptability is that your old PC must be able to run current releases of standard software.


If your computer is 3 years old or less, it will most likely be acceptable and provide a lot of benefit to your chosen organization.


You may also find organizations that accept donated equipment on several web sites which are dedicated to this purpose:


Hewlett-Packard offers a trade-in rebate program.  HP will even provide a written quote for your old computer online. (


HP Recycling ( will accept all brands of computers, ink cartridges, and cell phones, as well batteries for recycling.  If you buy a new HP computer, there may even be a cash credit for your new purchase. ( is a site dedicated to recycling or selling your old computers. 


Apple has a free recycling program that is available when you buy of a new computer. The brand you recycle does not matter as long as you purchase a new Apple computer.  Details are found on the Internet at


CONGRATULATIONS!  If you have followed these steps, you have protected your data, your identity, the environment, AND provided a computer to a worthy cause.  Give yourself a gold star and make it a great day!





  1. It’s an amazing fact that so many literate IT users around the world haven’t a clue about protecting their information when recycling their old kit. What I really find amazing is that businesses even entertain the idea of recycling old kit without checking if the data’s going to be removed, let alone if the equipment will stay inside the country of origin or be shipped to a developing country so that the data can be used as part of some Internet Cafe Phishing experiment.

    End users, particularly the general public need to be really careful when disposing of their kit, and you’re right to highlight the issues in your blog. However, there’s plenty of articles on the web about UK local authorities not recycling computers properly when they’re sent to the dump. They’re simply shipped out off the UK and in a number of instances, end up in developing countries without having had data removed, let alone tested t ensure they work.


    Richard Tanfield-Johnson

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