3 Ways to Get Rid of Old Computers Without Getting Hacked

With Black Friday looming and Christmas coming quicker every year, technological FOMO is set to hit peak levels. And once you’re happily set up with a bargain-priced tablet or laptop, the temptation to throw out your old hardware (out with the old!) is hard to resist.

But in a year where companies as big as Sony and Talk Talk are getting data stolen – and not just theirs, but yours too – maintaining your privacy is becoming more and more of a concern.

So how can you get rid of your old electronics safely without unwittingly sharing your details? Is it even possible to improve your technological life without losing control of your personal one?

Do It Yourself

While erasing the contents of your entire computer sounds easy, you’d be surprised at just how much of your data can remain hidden on the hard drive. Even after deleting a file from your recycle bin, there’s still a trace of it somewhere. So it’s reassuring to know there are plenty of comprehensive online guides to backing up and storing your files – be it through external hard drives or the cloud – as well as the steps you need to take to wipe your presence from an old machine altogether before you sell or scrap.

Call for Back-up

cant someone else do it

But if that all sounds like too much hard work, hope is not lost. For starters, there’s every chance you have an IT-savvy friend or colleague who can do it for you. Just make sure it’s someone you can trust! Then you can hide it in the attic or pass it on via Gumtree or Freecycle.

If your computer is only a small part of the stuff you want taken away, you can look for a removal company to not only take away your tech, but wipe it for you as well. Clearance companies have emphasised the importance of data destruction, imploring that we think of even barely-functioning desktop PCs as untapped goldmines of confidential information.

So whether you had a broken power supply unit or your Mac was riddled with malware, don’t assume that your private data is as corrupt as your device’s boot sequence until your clearance company has shown you the data destruction certificates.


smash computer

Sure, we’ve all thought about doing this, but as a last resort – and an enjoyably cathartic one at that – it’s definitely an option. If you’re going to smash your computer to pieces, just make sure that the hard drive itself – the entire reason you started this rampage in the first place – is left completely unusable.

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Written by:
Simon Davies is a London based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues and solutions.
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