What happens to old technology? What happens to that PC that just got replaced on your desktop? The two major considerations to be made are firstly about what happens to the information it contains and secondly where it physically going.
Every technology, no matter where it is used, contains personal and business information that most likely shouldn’t be made public. A good example is when software accounting packages are upgraded they retain a ‘backup’ of the old information ‘just in case’. In many cases, this ‘just in case’ information is never removed even after multiple updates have been performed. If that machine is then simply given away, so too is the confidential information that someone with a little bit of knowledge could extract.
Thus, after any technology device has been ‘retired’ it should be wiped so all the information contained within is removed. With a PC this generally means running a specialised piece of software that will write zeros to every location on the hard disk. For something like a mobile or tablet, wiping information securely can be more challenging. Most of these devices support a ‘factory reset’ but that may not necessarily remove all the personal information. So even after you do a ‘factory reset’ on a device make sure you check that it no longer contains any private information.
Once you are confident all private information has been removed the next question to answer is where is the PC going? Is it simply going to be thrown out or could it put to better use. In many cases, hand me down technology is not sufficient for many but there is certainly a class of people who could make good use of whatever is available. The best place is to check with your local council, school or charity organisation to see whether anyone could make use of what you are getting rid of. However, don’t be disappointed if they aren’t interested.
If the machine can no longer be used then it will be destined for the rubbish heap. Unfortunately, most devices don’t contain components that are environmentally friendly and therefore shouldn’t be just thrown out in the trash. You should look for a local specialised recycler. Many local councils now provide specialised e-waste depots that can take used technology and dispose of it correctly.
So before you chuck that piece of technology you have just upgraded, ask yourself whether it has been wiped and whether it can be disposed of appropriately. Sure, both processes take more time but in the end they are worth it for your privacy and for the planet.
Image courtesy of Teerapun at FreeDigitalPhotos.net