No matter how you dispose of that retired PC, it's critical to remove any sensitive personal data on its hard drive. Simply tossing files into the Recycle Bin or reformatting the hard drive is not enough. Instead, you should wipe the hard drive to remove all traces of your financial information, passwords, e-mail messages, and other private data. Your workplace might already (or should) pay professional disposition experts to erase the secrets hidden within old equipment and prepare it for recycling or refurbishment. Your household can take similar steps on a smaller scale. CNET security expert Robert Vamosi describes the best ways to prepare your PC for recycling
Simple-to-use utilities such as Eraser can erase data from your hard drive.
The gold standard
for a drive-wiping utility is whether it can overwrite the drive 100 times. We like Eraser
. Darik's Boot and Nuke
is a free, easy solution for destroying data on the hard drives of most Macs and PCs. KillDisk
, also free, is another option, but it works on PCs only. You can find other drive-wiping utilities at Download.com
. Even safer, you can remove the hard drive from the computer before sending the rest of the machine for recycling.
And before you splurge, make sure that you really need to buy that shiny, new gadget. Could you get by with an upgraded hard drive
instead of a brand-new computer? You might also find other creative uses for your old PC
before giving up on it. And what about just replacing your old iPod Mini battery
rather than snapping up this season's tiniest MP3 player? If you carefully choose solid products
that are built to last, you can avoid dealing with frequent disposal in the first place.