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How to Properly Dispose of Your Old Computers

Posted January 29th, 2016

old computerOver the course of our adult lives, we will go through at least a few computers or laptops. However, you can’t just toss them in the trash. There are important steps that you must take to dispose of these devices in a secure and responsible way. Today we will outline some necessary strides to ensure their appropriate disposal.

With a gigantic selection of priced-to-sell computers currently on the market, the likelihood of having to get rid of one, or more, is very high. That being said, knowing how to completely wipe your old hard drive and repurpose the computer are two very important things to know.

Once you’ve transferred all the files you wish to keep (documents, pictures, etc.), you’ll need to erase all the leftover bits of data that someone could use to steal your identity. These would be things like financial records, medical documents, and other sensitive documents. Consider the steps below to keep your data safe.

Note: If you’re considering buying a new computer because your old one is acting sluggish, check out our blog on how to speed up your computer before you do. It might just need a quick tune-up.


Leave No Doubt Data is Destroyed

The most important concern everyone should have when getting rid of an old computer is controlling the loss of personal information. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as deleting the files and emptying out the recycle bin.


Darik’s Boot and Nuke

One of the most popular ways to securely delete sensitive information is Darik’s Boot and Nuke or DBAN. DBAN offers users a few different methods for erasing hard drive content. This helps to deter would-be hackers from gathering any personal data. The DBAN software offers both an extremely detailed clean as well as a more basic cleaning option.



Not typically used for home computers, mostly because it can cost slightly less than a used car, degaussing is one way to completely wipe all of the data from your hard drive.

The degaussing process works by using magnetic waves to completely clean your hard disk. Generally, degaussers are used for companies that plan to wipe multiple computers at once. Though not cost effective for the regular user, it can be quite a great piece of machinery for business owners who hold lots of sensitive information on their machines.


Smash, Destruction, Annihilation

Probably the most fun way to clean your hard drive is by destroying it. This method allows for some creativity, so have fun with it.


How to Dispose of the Actual Computer

As stated above, you shouldn’t just throw your old computer into a dumpster. Many computers and monitors contain toxic amounts of mercury, lead, arsenic, and other dangerous chemicals that can endanger the environment. While you may show your good intentions by taking your devices to a recycling center, a very large number of these used items still make it to dumping areas in Ghana and China.


Options Other Than Recycling

Instead of throwing away or recycling your old computer, try repurposing it. For instance, you could update the operating system to Linux just to experiment or hone your coding skills.

There are quite a few programs out there that will give your used computer to a family in need or someone who would like to join the digital age but doesn’t have the means to.

You may also be able to make an extra buck or two by selling it on eBay, Amazon or craigslist.

You could also hold on to it for extra parts if you ever need to replace something on your current machine.

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