If you’re in the process of spring cleaning, you might have found some old devices that you don’t need anymore. Donating these is a great way to help the environment and declutter your home, but it’s essential that the device is properly wiped of all personal information before it leaves your ownership. Before deleting anything, be sure to back up all important information. Being green shouldn’t make you blue!
Dragging files to the trash does not really delete them. They still exist on your computer’s hard drive. Even emptying your trash may not permanently delete the files. They may still be accessible to a skilled hacker.
One solution to this is whole disk encryption. Most computers come with this feature built in, and it just needs to be activated. This can be done on Mac OS, Windows 8 and 10, and Windows 7. If your computer does not have this feature built-in, visit Slant for suggestions.
As a last resort, you can physically damage your hard drive to erase information. Watch this video for instructions.
If you’re donating a phone, remove the SIM card and SD card (if you have one). Disable any Find My Device settings. Then make sure to restore it to factory settings. This will erase your personal data and leave the phone as it was the day that you bought it.
According to the EPA, recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year, and for every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.
Visit the EPA’s website for suggested places to donate your old electronics.