Disposing Of An Old Computer? Read this first!

So recently we upgraded all the computer systems in our office… upgraded some Mac’s and replaced all our pc’s with Macs. Great!

But what we’re now left with is a PC graveyard…

What do we do with them all? Sell them? Throw them away? Sure…

BUT Is our data safely backed up? Have we securely erased all our business information?

As the lifecycle of our technology gets shorter, we dispose of the things that store our personal, private, valuable and compromising data more and more often. And, if we aren’t careful then it is easy to let the most valuable and private information slip into the hands of, well, anyone.

Plus, think about this conundrum –  the technologies that help you retrieve that file you desperately need when your computer crashes, are the same ones that can be used to recover your files when you give the computer to someone else.

Great… So what SHOULD we do?

I once believed smashing my old computer with a hammer was the safest way to destroy old files, but it’s far from effective. Hammering your computer into smithereens may not necessarily destroy the hard drive and, even if it does, data can still be recovered from damaged computers.

The best way to securely erase your computer is by using ‘Secure Erasing Software’. This kind of software for your PC is fairly easy to come by in the freeware arena. And, if you’re using a MAC, depending on the software version, it will have ‘secure erasing’ built in. The best thing is, you use the software on your computer while it is still functioning and completely under your control.

These tools work by overwriting “empty space” and selected files with useless random information. This means that when someone tries to recover the files all they get is rubbish. The tools will work on pretty much any drive, USB thumb drive, or external hard disk you can plug into your computer.

Some things you should be aware of:

  • If there’s anything you want from the drive/computer then back it up before you start. Seriously.
  • Securely erasing a drive can take a very, very long time.
  • There are various degrees of secure erasing depending on how hard you need the recovery of the data to be. Some clever hackers can get past single and even multiple overwrites if they really want to.

The important thing to take from this is that secure erasing needs to happen before you give away or sell any old computer.

If your computer does get into the wrong hands, there could be some pretty serious repercussions, fraudulent activity, or identity theft.

No matter how long you try to hang onto an old computer, sooner or later you’ll want to get rid of it and you’ll have to address this issue..

Sledgehammer, anyone?

What’s next?

  1. Join our Kick-Ass Tradies Facebook Group, for access to trade business specific conversations, tips and resources, plus a like-minded community of tradies.
  2. Book a 15-minute Game Plan Call with Andy, owner of Dr. DRiP plumbing and co-founder of Lifestyle Tradie, to clarify your priorities and get clear action steps.