Recycling electronics is an important part of life in this decade, but there are also risks associated with this. Your electronics may contain personal, sensitive information, and you will not want the wrong person getting their hands on these details. While recycling electronics is a good thing for you to do, there are steps you should take prior to doing this, and here are the two most important ones:
Wipe the Device
It doesn't matter what type of electronic you have; it could contain personal information. This includes cell phones, home computers, laptops, and gaming devices. If the wrong person obtained this information, you could end up with major problems, such as identity theft. To protect yourself, here are some of the options you have:
Perform a Factory Reset
This is something you can do on cell phones, but you can also do this on many computers. Before doing this, you may want to back up your files on a separate device. This is only necessary if there are files that you want to keep.
When you perform a factory reset, it somewhat erases the information on your computer. The average person would probably not be able to access the information, but a computer hacker or expert could, and therefore this is not always enough protection.
Remove the Hard Drive
Another option you have with a computer is to remove the hard drive. This option works great because the hard drive is where all the information is stored, and no one would be able to steal your information without having the hard drive.
The downside to this option is that you must know how to open the computer, find the hard drive, and remove it. The other downside is that it leaves you with a computer component you may not really need.
Run a Hard Drive Override Program
When you delete files off a computer, you are probably aware that the files are not really gone. They are still there somewhere, and a computer expert could find them. Hard drive override programs reduce the risks of someone finding your files, especially if you run this type of program several times.
There are many different ways you can do this, and you can find a variety of different products online to help you.
This first step is vital because identity theft is so common. According to NBC News, research shows that 1 in 5 Americans are victims of this.
Choose a Reputable Recycling Company
Donating old, unwanted computers and cell phones is beneficial for so many reasons, but taking the right steps to protect yourself is also important. One benefit this offers is energy-savings. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling one million computers saves enough energy to power over 3,500 homes.
Recycling electronics is also important because these items contain lead, mercury, and other toxic elements. When these elements end up in the ground, they contaminate the air, soil, and water. Choosing to donate is a wise decision, but you should always make sure you choose a reputable recycling company to use.
As you look for a recycling company, try to find one with these features:
- Free services – look for a company that does not charge you to take your items.
- Look for the SMS logo – SMS stands for Sustainable Materials Management, and this is a program offered through the EPA. It sets guidelines for recycling, and it ensures that the recycling companies are correctly handling their duties.
- 100% data destruction – a recycling company should offer the guarantee that they will destroy every piece of information on every device they receive.
You can learn a lot about a recycling company by visiting their establishment and by asking questions. If you find a company with a good reputation, you may feel better about donating your old devices. This is something that is very important because electronics are so popular today, and you can do your part by donating the items you no longer need.
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