A+: Disposal of Obsolete Hardware
If you send your obsolete PC, printer, or monitor to a landfill, it will have plenty of company. Millions of old units go there every year; it’s legal (except for monitors which contain lead or mercury), but it’s also a waste of equipment that could teach somebody something or still be useful to someone. Here are some better ways to deal with obsolete computers and peripherals:
• If possible, try to dispose of your working, cast-off computer equipment by giving it to a school, charity or especially a computer rebuilding society such as Freegeek.org. These organizations might be able to wring additional years of useful life out of the equipment and are usually grateful for the opportunity.
• To dispose of non-working equipment, see if an electronics trade school is willing to take the equipment for classroom use. Some electronic and computer service facilities will allow you to drop off defective monitors with payment of a small disposal fee.
• Use “computer” and “recycling” in a major search engine to find options for constructive disposal of both working and non-working equipment.
Hard disk drives in castoff machines can be a treasure trove of confidential information for the recipients, even if you format or repartition the drives. Many open souce freeware data recovery programs such as Norton Unerase, Norton Unformat, Ontrack Easy Data Recovery, and others can pull all kinds of information from an intact hard disk, including credit-card, bank, and proprietary company data.
Open source hard disk erasure programs such as dBan and other programs that overwrite data areas of the drive repeatedly are designed to help prevent easy data recovery. However, forensic data-recovery tools intended for use by law-enforcement organizations can be purchased and used by anyone to retrieve data, even if it has been overwritten.