Four Things to Do Before You Throw Out a Computer

Computers eventually malfunction and become outdated over time. The only solution is to get rid of the entire system. You do not want to just dump an old computer in a trashcan. If you're looking to safely get rid of your electronics, you can contract the experts at Wisp for help recycling old devices by calling 504-309-5322, or try it yourself. Here are four things to do before your throw out a computer.

1. Copy All Your Data

The first step should be to copy all the data that you need from the hard drive. Do this even if you think there is nothing of value on the drive. You could just start copying directories onto discs if you want. A better alternative might be to create an image of the hard drive so that it can be restored fully on another computer with applications and data. A final option is to use an online backup service to transfer all the data before the drive is thrown away.

2. Remove Potentially Useful Components

Although the larger computer might be outdated or broken, some individual components might be wholly salvageable and still useful. Open up the computer and see whether the random access memory, or RAM, could be used in another system. See if you want to take out the hard drive or CD burner. You might also want to salvage the graphics card if it was added separately.

3. Format & Scrub or Destroy the Hard Drives

Take the time to format and scrub the hard drives in the computer. You need to do more than simple deleting and formatting. Try to find a professionally made hard drive cleaning program that will overwrite the data several times so that it becomes incredibly hard to retrieve. Do this for all drives and remove all partitions. Alternately, you could just remove the drive and have it physically shredded.

4. Find Out How to Legally Dispose Of E-Waste

A final step is to find out how to legally dispose of electronic waste, or e-waste. The laws vary between jurisdictions. You might have to take the computer to a recycling center or a specific lot in your city. Some areas require you to take computers to retailers for disposal. Know this information before trying any disposal method.

Old computers need to be disposed of properly because they contain potentially harmful metals and materials. You also need to consider that old hard drives could be mined for personal information that might lead to identity theft. Always take these four basic steps when it comes time to throw out a computer.