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Securely Disposing of Electronics

The Information Security Office fully supports efforts to recycle obsolete electronic equipment.  However, it is important that you first take a few precautions. 

Before donating any personal desktop, laptops, mobile devices, digital camera or any other digital device capable of storing data make sure to REMOVE YOUR DATA to avoid any data theft possibilities. 

Make sure that no identifiable information about you or any of your relatives is stored on any devices are you recycling, selling or donating.

What can I do to prepare a digital device for recycling?

1) Back up all important data BEFORE beginning the removal process.  Take inventory of the files you want to keep and copy them to an external drive or other removable media (DVD, CD, memory card, or USB).  Ensure that your backup copies work (i.e., your music plays, your pictures and docs open, etc.).

2) Use a disk wiping tool. Simply deleting the data or formatting the drive is insufficient and almost always leaves the previous data accessible.  A disk wiping utility will overwrite the data in a manner that makes it much harder, if not impossible, to retrieve.  There are many disk wiping utilities to choose from, including DBAN, which is open source, free, and has a good reputation.  DBAN can be downloaded here

Additional disk wiping tools include:

Eraser is the simplest option for wiping digital USB devices clean (including mp3 players and digital cameras).  Once Eraser is installed on your computer, simply plug in the device to be cleaned and drag the files to be erased to the Eraser tool.  Eraser will remove the files from the device and make them unrecoverable.