Updated October 3, 2019 . AmFam Team
When it comes to getting rid of your old computer, safety is more important than you might think. After all, your PC is home to lots of personal information and sensitive data. To protect yourself, dispose of your tech the smart way. Here are some tips to help you get rid of your old PC.
No matter how careful you’ve been, your computer probably contains private information like passwords, financial account numbers, medical information and tax records. Make sure your personal details are actually erased by not just deleting them, but wiping your hard drive. Save the files you want to keep on an external hard drive, then wipe your old PC’s slate clean.
Wiping your hard drive with software is the easiest way to clean it up, but the only way to truly prevent the most intrepid of thieves from getting your information is to physically destroy the hard drive. Do this in a safe manner by removing it from the computer, then gently dismantling it with a screwdriver and damaging individual pieces. You don’t have to do much harm to render your hard drive broken beyond repair, so don’t go overboard with the denting and smashing.
Simply throwing your old computer in the trash isn’t a smart option – not to mention it can be illegal depending on your local laws. The electronic components are bad for the environment, so special arrangements must be made. Check with your local sanitation department for rules and regulations on the disposal of electronics. If you want to do more than just trash your old computer, here are some great alternatives to consider.
Recycle it. The Environmental Protection Agency (Opens in a new tab) has information about some great options. And your local community may also have a recycling program!
Donate it. Many organizations collect old computers and donate them to charities. If you’re worried about any leftover information on the hard drive, remove it and replace it with a cheaper, empty one before you drop it off at the charity.
Resell it. Your computer may be old to you, but some people and organizations are interested in buying your used electronics. Check online for possible buyers near you. You may even be able to sell individual parts if they’re still good, like old graphics cards or coolant systems.
Repurpose it. Your computer may still have some use as a DVR for security cameras or as a household media server.
No matter what you decide to do with your old computer, make sure to be safe about it and keep your personal security a priority. Interested in learning more about how you can proactively protect your identity? We’ve partnered with CyberScout to help you keep an eye on your credit score and any fraudulent purchases made with your identity. Connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to sign up for our credit monitoring service.