What Should I Do with this Old Computer?

Let’s do some spring cleaning. Somewhere at work (or at home) there are old computers lying around. Check out the IT storage room; it might scare you what they have in there. The hard drive on those computers contains sensitive information.

There are several reasons that you do not want to throw them out in the trash. First, they contain hazardous material that you are not allowed to send to the landfill. Second, anyone can grab those systems, pull the hard drives out and scan them for data, including deleted data.

That’s right, when you delete a file on a computer it is marked as deleted in a table that tracks the space on the hard disk, but the file is still there. There are programs on the internet that will undelete those files, even if the computer is broken and will not boot up. (See below for more permanent ways to delete individual files and folders).

PCI requirements dictate that all work-related hard drives should be destroyed by a reputable local company that will destroy them on-site and give you a certificate that lists the serial numbers of all drives they wiped.

For your home computer, you have a few options. You can pull out the hard drive and have a service destroy it. Professionals have special equipment that can either shred it into small pieces or use a super magnet to permanently erase everything on the drive. Many communities have recycling days where you can drop the rest of the computer off for free for a minimal charge.

How should I permanently delete files on my computer?
There are utilities available online that activate when you delete a file and will write over the old space the file was taking multiple times to make it unrecoverable. Remember to make sure that any files that are backed up online are also deleted.

What other spring cleaning can I do to make sure my computer is secure and runs faster?
Remove any programs and browser plugins that you no longer use. This will help your computer run faster and more efficiently. Go through your files and securely delete any that you do not need any more. The fewer files on your local system, the better it will perform.

For additional resources, check out these articles:

How to Permanently Delete Files From Computer (December 2022) (twitgoo.com)
How Do I Permanently Delete Files From My Hard Disk? | PCWorld
6 Ways To Permanently Delete A File On Windows (technewstoday.com)