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Do’s and Don’ts: Disposing of Old PCs and Devices

Researchers have shown that the majority of used devices for sale on eBay and similar sites contain sensitive information from the previous owner.  The same is true of PCs handed down within an organization.

There’s a lot of confusion around what constitutes a “wiped” device; to that end, here are some do’s and don’ts when it’s time to upgrade:

Don’t rely on the Delete key.  Merely deleting files doesn’t truly delete them—which is confusing, obviously.  No, this key simply eliminates one pathway to a file.

Do read up on how to actually eliminate a file from your device.  The step-by-step instructions vary, depending on the type of device and its operating system.  It’s easy to find how-to information through Googling or a YouTube search.

Don’t hesitate to contact a professional.  These are the people who erase information from specific devices every day; they know how it’s done.  For example, employees at mobile phone stores are typically happy to wipe clean your phone while you watch, then allow you to confirm that the info is gone.

Do back it up.  Remember, wiped is wiped; if there’s any chance at all you will want the data or files in the future, copy it to the cloud (in the form of Google Drive, for example), a USB stick, or a backup drive while you’ve got the chance.

Don’t leave anything to chance.  Sure, it’s nice to trade in a phone and get a few bucks back, or pass your laptop along to your kid.  But think about the value of your data and decide whether it’s worth the risk.  Many people decide it isn’t, which is why they …

Do smash their hard drive with a big hammer.  Seriously.  For peace of mind, pure destruction is the best medicine.

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