Securely dispose of old PCs: 5 key steps

IT departments typically focus on keeping computers secure while they’re in use – but mistakes made when machines are recycled can lead to big security breaches, too.

Organizations such as New Jersey’s state government and even NASA have made headlines recently for throwing away or selling machines that still contained sensitive information.

To keep your company from making the same mistakes, here are some things businesses should keep in mind while getting rid of old computers, according to

  1. One of the first steps should be to wipe the hard drive’s data as completely as possible. Simply deleting files usually isn’t enough — IT should use advanced data wiping tools.
  2. In cases where a machine held especially sensitive information, IT should go a step further and physically destroy the drive.
  3. Often, fleets of several computers leave the company at the same time. In those cases, it’s important to keep a checklist and methodically document every step of the process so nothing is skipped on any of the machines.
  4. Don’t wait to properly decommission old PCs — the longer they sit around, the more likely they’ll lead to a security breach.
  5. Even if the disposal process begins right away, there’s a chance an inside thief could walk out the door with a machine before all data is destroyed. Therefore, it’s important to keep an updated inventory of all equipment, including individual components removed from PCs.