Almost every piece of computing equipment in your office retains data in one way or another. Even your networked printer can hold on to information. Using built-in erase programs for computers, phones, printers, tablets, and so on isn’t enough to render data inaccessible.
Hackers have access to tools you don’t, including software that can un-erase drives, or reconstruct data after it has been fragmented. Knowing that, don’t put your old machines in the trash or recycle bin before you remove the printer or computer’s hard drive.
The next step in making sure your information can’t be recovered or un-erased is this: physically destroy anything that can store your data.
Go ahead! Go ballistic on your old drives, CDs, DVDs, USB memory, and mobile devices. Just remember all the times your computer crashed using that new accounting software! Not only does taking a hammer to that old phone make it completely unusable, but it can also provide some much-needed stress relief during tax season*. You can find pictures online of where to drill into your laptop or hard drive to make sure you are destroying the data properly.
If you would rather someone else take care of it, there are companies that will destroy your old data storage devices securely and completely. Make sure to get a certificate of destruction, this ensures that everything was disposed of properly.
Take time for this extra step. It’s worth it.
*If you are gifting your old desktop computer to a family member, go out and buy a new hard drive and have it installed in that machine. Directions for downloading and installing operating systems can be found online.