Tech Tip: Don’t Just Throw Out That Old Computer

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Getting rid of old computers or servers? Did you know that the components used in technology equipment are not landfill-safe? On top of the environmental hazards, unprotected e-waste typically contains a lot of confidential and private information in the form of saved passwords, internet history and files left on the retired computer or server.

As a first prevention step, find a local recycling facility where e-waste can be safely disposed of. And make sure to take the following number-one security precaution before you haul it off: remove and destroy the hard drives. A drill and a hammer usually do the trick just fine. Alternatively, many companies that shred paper documents will also destroy your hard drives.

Some IT providers — such as Computerware — offer free e-waste recycling services to clients, picking up your old hardware and making sure that it’s properly recycled.

Don’t forget other e-waste, including mobile phones, copy machines and other devices that have touched company data at some point. Before you recycle any device, always give serious thought to what data may be on it.

Alan Edwards, CISM, is chief information officer at Computerware, Inc., in Vienna, Virginia.

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