When most people think about computer recycling, they only think about the physical act of breaking down the machine and sorting its parts for reuse. However, veteran computer recycling firm R2 Recycling (Fort Washington, PA), which provides service around the nation courtesy of its partnership with recyclers that follow the R2 standard, would like to inform the public about an important digital component to consider: the data stored on your computer.
You may be surprised to learn that computers contain much personal information- from passwords and bank account info to contact lists and emails. This data can be extremely valuable to identity thieves and other cybercriminals, so it’s important to take steps to protect yourself before recycling your computer.
Deleted Doesn’t Mean Gone
As explained to us by an R2 Recycling representative, even if you’ve deleted files, it doesn’t mean that the data is eradicated. Your computer stores all kinds of personal & financial information that can be easily recovered by an experienced data scavenger. If not handled properly, even data from a device that has been dormant for several years can be obtained by a hacker who knows what they’re doing.
It would be best to assume that anyone who gets their hands on your device will have full access to everything stored there and to act accordingly. This includes choosing strong passwords (selecting both cases & symbols wherever possible), using multiple passwords for different websites/applications, and- most importantly – always shutting down your computer when not in use.
Here are a few tips on how to secure your data before taking your laptop or desktop computer to an e-waste recycling company:
Back-Up Anything You Want to Keep
The first step is to back up any files you want to keep. This includes documents, photos, music, and other media in addition to passwords and account information for your email accounts, social networking sites, banking/finance institutions, insurance companies, etc.
Delete Your Browsing History
R2 Recycling advises us to remember to clear all your temporary internet files, cookies, and browser history before recycling your device. Information that includes browsing histories & search terms can lead bad actors to your computer, providing them with data that they can profit from on the black market.
There are many different programs out there – both free and paid – that can help you accomplish this objective. Just read reviews first to end up with a safe program that doesn’t delete the files you wish to hold onto. If this process takes too long for you, focus on removing anything containing sensitive information like bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc.
Uninstall Your Programs
Before you take your computer or phone to an electronics recycling firm such as R2 Recycling, be sure to uninstall any programs that users can download again. This will help keep anyone who gets their hands on your old computer from obtaining access to any applications that may provide access to your data.
Consult Your Employer About Data Disposal Policies
If you are recycling an employer-provided device, be sure to check with your IT department before doing so. It’s quite likely that they have standard practices for disposing of old computers and may even take back devices from current employees.
Many companies are advised to implement strict data disposal policies to protect their network from being compromised. In some instances, large corporations not performing their due diligence has resulted in substantial fines.
Recycling Isn’t Enough – Take It A Step Further
For the final & most important step, it is imperative that you only choose a desktop & laptop recycling firm that assures that your information will never end up in the wrong hands. With over two decades of industry experience, R2 Recycling has developed the most trustworthy system for data destruction.
Each memory storage device that enters R2 Recycling’s facility has a US Department of Defense (DOD) standard wipe performed on it, and if data is not verified as eliminated, physical destruction is performed to ensure that the process will be completed.
Electronics recycling can be a great way to ensure a new purpose for your unwanted devices while protecting your sensitive data. But it’s important to ensure you research your potential options before coming to a final decision. R2 Recycling with its nationwide network of partners is always a viable, credible one to consider.