If you send in your computer to be recycled, it may be refurbished and sold if it is in good enough condition. It’s important to make sure that no data on your hard drive is still accessible before you send it in to be recycled, or before you get rid of it.

1. Shredding: The hard drive is fed into a machine that literally shreds the hard drive. This is the most effective option, as it completely destroys the hard drive.

2. Drilling: This might be the most popular option. Simply drilling a hole in a hard drive can destroy it.

3. Degaussing: This consists of sending hard drives through a magnet, scrambling the data on the drive and rendering it unrecoverable.

4. Overwriting: The business standard is to overwrite the drive three times. Overwriting is also known as wiping; it replaces the information on the hard drive with gobbledegook.

There are companies that will erase all your information as well. You can either drop the hard drives off, or you can find companies that have portable equipment and can destroy hard drives on site.

When deciding where to send computers to be recycled, it is helpful to know what standards one should look for in regards to data protection. e-Stewards and R2 are two environmental standards that also mandate that companies wipe or shred all hard drives. In addition, the National Association for Information Destruction offers certification.

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