When your electronics get old or you upgrade, your first instinct might be to get rid of the old right away. But first, you should ensure no data is left on the device in case it ends up in the wrong hands. You would think you can just delete the data, but it’s not always that simple, as sometimes the data remains on your device unless you take additional steps to permanently delete it.
The following types of electronics should have their data wiped before you get rid of them, and your options for doing so are outlined:
Use a disk cleaning software to permanently remove the data from the hard drive. You can use “secure erase”, which writes over all areas of the hard drive, or “disk wiping”, which erases sensitive information and clears flash drives and digital cards as well.
Smartphones and tablets
Perform a “hard reset”, which returns the device to the original factory settings. This can usually be done through your settings. If your device has a removable storage chip, remove it as well.
Digital media such as a camera, media player, or gaming console
Similar to smartphones and tablets, you should perform a factory hard reset and physically remove hard drives or memory cards from their slots.
External hardware such as printers, monitors and external hard drives
Remove any memory cards from the equipment (especially printers and fax machines) then perform a factory hard reset.
In addition to these options, you can also physically destroy the device or hard drive. There are services available to do this, or you can do it yourself by driving nails or drilling holes into the device. You must ensure the remaining pieces of the drive are small enough so they can’t be reconstructed. Once the data is permanently deleted and you’re ready to get rid of it, be sure to call your local landfill and inquire about e-waste drop off locations in your area.