Computers, servers, printers, monitors, and other network hardware all come to the end of their life eventually. So, what are you supposed to do when you are done using them? Many people want to donate their old computers and network equipment, or recycle them because they feel throwing them away is irresponsible. However, most of the time, companies are unable to find an organization that wants dated computer equipment.
Throwing computers and other hardware into a dumpster is not just environmentally irresponsible, throwing away devices that have company data on their hard drives can expose your company to potential data breaches. Regardless how the computer was used, we usually find at least a credit card stored on the computer and many times we find employee information or thousands of customer records.
Just recycling or donating your devices (computers, laptops, smartphones, thumb drives) can be dangerous because of the sensitive data on each hard drive. Even if you delete everything from a hard drive, information can be retrieved from it. Per a 2013-14 study by the National Association of Information Destruction, 30% of recycled devices contain medical records, banking information, emails, photographs, or client account information. Don't leave yourself at risk!
When decommissioning your used equipment, you should take two steps:
- Remove & Destroy the Hard Drive – Hard Drive Destruction (HDD) means your hard drive is properly destroyed so the data on it can never be accessed. HDD is the best way to ensure your data is irrecoverable.
- Recycle the PC & other Miscellaneous Hardware with an Accredited Recycler – To be “green”, use a recycler that accepts e-waste (electronic trash) or find an e-waste drop off center.
A good IT firm can help you with each of these steps to ensure you’re protecting your company from a data breach and retiring your equipment responsibly.