Dumpstering an office full of computers can cause any number of problems. The equipment takes up a big chunk of landfill space and contains heavy metals that can contaminate soil and water. If someone dumpster-dives your old equipment, your confidential data could end up anywhere.
Recycling is a much better choice.
Here’s the problem: while many places accept old computers for free, including major manufacturers such as Dell and HP, they do not bother to erase your data. You’ve probably seen headlines in recent years about old government and corporate computers showing up on eBay with confidential data free for the taking. Fortunately, there are now services like PCDisposal.com that provide Department of Defense-standard data destruction prior to recycling the parts. There is a nominal fee, but when you compare this to the cost of equipment disposal and cleanup–or worse, the cost of exposed data–it’s well worth it.
If you’d prefer to tackle the data destruction on your own, there are software programs that “shred” your data. A simple file delete won’t do–anyone with a $20 software recovery program can restore your files in a matter of minutes. Programs like McAfee QuickCleanMcAfee QuickClean or CyberScrub’s cyberCide work behind the scenes to remove all trace of your confidential data from your hard drive.
After you’ve cleaned up the hard drive, you can donate your computer to local charities or schools, or find a needy organization online through the National Cristina Foundation. If you’re in the St. Louis area, check out a local organization, Web Innovations and Technology Services.