This is an age-old story. Your computer is on the fritz and you need a new one. Everything is setup and your data is transferred over to your shiny new computer. All is good with the world and then you think, “What do I do with my old computer?

You may end up giving the computer to a friend or family member. You may donate it to a community thrift store or charity. Then again, you may just toss it in the garbage and leave it at that.

These are big no-no’s when it comes to keeping your personal and business data secure!

We recently switched out one of our small business client’s computers with a new one and recommended that they keep the old computer for at least a month or two in case we missed anything during the data transfer. After the grace period was up, we recommended that they take out and destroy the hard drive before disposing of the old computer. At this point, most of our clients usually end up bringing the computer in to us for proper data destruction and disposal.

Destoryed hard drive

My recommendations had slipped the owners mind however, and he ended up throwing the computer away with their normal office waste without removing the hard drive! Unfortunately, the computer that was thrown away had a slew of business data still on the drive; including client lists, financial information, emails, secure documents, and more. Because of this, I strongly urged them to reset all of their passwords and keep a watchful eye on their accounts for a while. Unfortunately, we also ended up needing to transfer a couple of additional files that weren’t regularly accessed and couldn’t because they had thrown the computer in the garbage.

This is an extreme case of a lack of data protection, but it’s a good example of why you should treat your digital data, whether it be personal or business, like gold!

Now, what can you do when you need to dispose of a computer? Here are the basic guidelines to follow:

  1. Remove your hard drive!
  2. Physically destroy the hard drive!
  3. Dispose of your computer at a proper facility!

As always, if you have any requests for our Q&A section, please send them to questions@pccopilots.com and we will add them to our list to answer in future articles!