Magpie Tech Tips

October 05, 2017

How to Properly Dispose of IT Hardware

Don’t throw old IT hardware in the dumpster. It’s bad for the environment, and you could lose valuable Intellectual Property to thieves. Instead, use these secure disposal methods.

You’ll need to buy some new IT hardware eventually. New computers, servers, network gear, etc. How do you get rid of the old hardware?

It’s not as simple as throwing the old hardware in a dumpster.  That’s about the worst possible thing to do, for these reasons:

  1. Old hardware can contain important data about your business. You don’t want a dumpster-diving hacker to get that.
  2. Compliance requirements. If you’re subject to compliance regulations like SOX or HIPAA, you must take certain precautions with old IT hardware.
  3. Environmental responsibility. Computers contain elements that, if not properly treated, can release toxins (mercury, PCBs, etc.) into the environment over time. They also use rare metals—metals we can recycle, and thus reduce future mining efforts.

Instead, you’ll need to employ the following secure disposal methods. Depending on the type of IT hardware, these may overlap.  Choose the method(s) that best suits your business, and the hardware type.

Secure IT Hardware Disposal Methods

  1. Destruction. Some industrial shredding companies have the capability to destroy IT equipment. This not only protects your data, but the resulting material is recycled.
    • Best For:  Hard Drives, SSDs, Mobile Devices, CDs/DVDs

  2. E-Waste Pickup. Call a reputable e-waste disposal service in your area. They will pick up the old hardware (usually for free), recycle what they can, and ship off the rest for environmentally-safe destruction.

    (Hackers have posed as e-waste disposal companies in order to collect companies’ IT hardware. Verify the service locally before you call.)

    • Best For: Computers, Servers, Networking Equipment, Peripherals (e.g. Printers)

  3. Recycling. Yes, you can recycle some IT hardware directly! Every Best Buy store has a recycling kiosk for old cables. You can also contact the Boy Scouts of America; some troops will recycle electronics.
    • Best For: Network Cables, Power Cords/Adapters

  4. IT Partner Pickup.  The safest option is to turn over your old hardware to your IT partner. They will make sure any hard drives are destroyed and then arrange an e-waste pickup, or ship hardware directly to an industrial shredder.
    • Best For: All IT Hardware

PlanetMagpie has collected & properly disposed of our customers’ old IT hardware for many years now. We’re happy to continue doing so. Alternately, Iron Mountain is a reputable IT hardware disposal business, with 3 Bay Area locations.

Got a tech question you need answered?  Please email us at woof@planetmagpie.com and we may make it our next Tech Tip.