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How to Properly Dispose of Computers and other IT Equipment

Posted: June 3, 2013

Computers and other IT equipment that have reached the end of their useful life need to be disposed of properly, to secure any confidential data that may be stored on them. Ag IT has gathered recommendations that should be followed when disposing of IT equipment.

Most people know how to get computers and computer/IT equipment, but once that equipment reaches the end of its usefulness, many people are unsure how to properly dispose of it.

Throwing computers and computer equipment in the trash is not the answer! Whether you are in an office at University Park, at a Commonwealth Campuses, or in an Extension office, proper equipment disposal is an important security consideration.

Old computers and equipment might seem like junk, but they might be a treasure trove for someone trying to steal your identity or your information. Even on a broken computer, there may be data stored on the hard drive that could be recovered by someone with the right tools and expertise. Users need to treat these computers as if they were filing cabinets full of information.

Copiers and fax machines may also have hard drives inside them to store recent documents. These devices should be considered just as susceptible to data theft as computers.

Some key points to keep in mind when computers or other computer equipment with hard drives reach the end of their useful life:

  • Place equipment in a secure place for temporary storage before it is recycled. This “holding area” should not be public places such as hallways or loading docks, but rather somewhere that equipment will be secure. You don’t want someone to walk off with your data!
  • Arrange for proper disposal of equipment. At University Park this means arranging with Lion Surplus (http://www.surplus.psu.edu) to have the computer equipment picked up. At Extension offices, you should take old equipment to your nearest Commonwealth Campus to be picked up by Lion Surplus. You may also bring the equipment directly to Lion Surplus at University Park. Lion Surplus ALWAYS securely wipes or destroys hard drives in equipment, ensuring your data will not be accessible to anyone.
  • If you have equipment that you think may have data on it but you are unsure how to dispose of it, please contact the Ag IT Help Desk and one of our consultants will work with you to find a solution.

More detailed information related to computer equipment disposal is available at http://agsci.psu.edu/it/how-to/recommendations-for-computer-printer-copier-and-fax-disposal

If you have additional questions or concerns related to equipment disposal, please feel free to contact the Ag IT Helpdesk.