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How To Securely Dispose Of Old EquipmentHow To Securely Dispose Of Old Equipment

Taking a sledge hammer to old hardware will keep data thieves away, and it's good for your cardio and upper-body strength too.

2 Min Read

That's good news for consumers. Earlier this year, eBay formed the Rethink Initiative, a partnership of manufacturers and shippers of consumer electronics that promotes recycling. Among the consortium's members are Dell Computer, which has launched an ambitious recycling program. The Texas giant accepts all kinds of PC gear -- desktops, notebooks, keyboards, mice, monitors (CRT and flat panels), PDAs, hubs, routers, scanners, and printers -- at $10 per 50-pound box. Apple offers a similar service. Best Buy stages recycling drives in its parking lots for unwanted computers and home electronics.

There's also a growing list of options for home-office and small-business PC users like Kronstadt who want their data properly disposed of for reasons of security, rather than environmental concerns.

Data destruction and certification has long been available to companies looking to jettison large amounts of used equipment. But making it affordable for home PC users and home businesses has proved to be a challenge. "We struggled for a long time trying to come up with something," says Kory Bostwick, president and CEO of PCDisposal.com LLC in Olathe, Kansas, which handles more than 10,000 units each month for its business clients. "We got a lot of emails every day from people looking to get rid of their stuff."

Now for $25 or so plus the cost of shipping, PCDisposal will destroy your equipment and send you a certificate confirming that the data has been destroyed or erased and disposed of in an EPA-compliant manner. "Consumers get the same level of security as Time Warner," says Bostwick. Other companies providing a similar service include Ship 'n Shred, which will destroy and recycle X-rays and pill bottles as well as PCs and magnetic media.

TechDisposal.com in Columbus, Ohio says it "hammer destroys" dead hard drives so the data can no longer be read. An industrial press bends the drive in six places. The decimated drive then goes to a refinery where it's melted down and the aluminum finds new life in cans and golf clubs, according to Paul Proffitt, the company's remarketing sales manager.

Not that Proffitt thinks the more literal version of hammer destruction is a bad idea. "Honestly, individuals who want to get rid of their hard drive should pull it out, beat it with a hammer, and throw it in the trash can -- if your state lets you do that," he says.

But the more secure form of disposal may be a good habit to acquire in preparation for the future. "Individuals right now don't have that level of scrutiny [that corporations do]," says Proffitt, "but who knows 10 to 15 years down the line?"

Data Disposal Resources

Dell's Recycling

Apple Recycling

Best Buy Recycling information

eBay Rethink Initiative

Data Destroyer Office Pro

Alera Technologies

Ship 'n Shred

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