Disposing of your old computers safely

Computers have a finite lifespan and ultimately need to be replaced. But what do you do with the old one? Do you throw it in a skip or, if it’s still working, perhaps donate it to a local charity?

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There are a number of options, but with all of them, you have the problem of making sure that any sensitive data on the machine is removed first. If you fail to do so you can leave yourself open to identity theft, fraud and more – https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/fraudsters-can-buy-second-hand-laptops-to-commit-identity-crime-aug15.

Deleting is not enough

You might think that just going through the hard drive and deleting all of your files would be enough. But deleting a file doesn’t remove it completely and there are plenty of tools available that allow files to be recovered. Even formatting the disk may leave files in a recoverable state.

You, therefore, need to not just delete the files but overwrite the space that they were occupying to ensure that they can’t be retrieved. So what can you do?

Secure disposal

The first step is to take a backup of the machine. You may think there’s nothing on there that you want, but could be caught out in a few months when you discover that there was after all. After that, you need to use a tool to safely wipe the data. Downloadable tools are available that create a bootable CD or flash drive, allowing you to start the machine independently of the operating system and clean up the disk. If you’re not confident doing this yourself, a firm offering IT support Cheltenham based https://reformit.co.uk/, for example, can help.

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The latest versions of Windows and MacOS have data removal tools built in, so you can use these without having to look for additional software.

If you have a non-working machine that won’t start up you still need to ensure that it contains no data. Even a non-working hard drive may be recoverable with specialist tools. You can try removing the disk and checking if it’s readable on another machine, in which case you can wipe it. If it’s not readable in this way the best option is to make absolutely sure by physically destroying it. Placing a powerful magnet on it or hitting it with a hammer should be enough to do the job.