Get rid of your old computer? Here’s how to make sure you dispose of it safely
When you’re done with your old laptop, Mac, or PC, don’t throw it away. Make sure you dispose of it properly, including safely disposing of any personal data on your computer’s hard drive.
Disposing of your old computer can be relatively straightforward. When you buy a new electrical item, such as a PC or laptop, the seller from whom you buy it is legally obligated to help you safely and responsibly dispose of the replacement item.
In practice, this means that retailers must:
provide a free in-store return service for your old product when purchasing a new version
create an alternative free return service.
If the seller is unable to provide any of the above, they must pay for local processing services.
Whatever service the retailer provides, they must provide free written information, including details about the service, how electrical equipment can be reused and recycled, and why electrical items should be separated from household waste. Information provided by retailers may include in-store posters, online information, or printed brochures.
But if you cannot use the retailer’s recycling system, there are many other options that we will explain below. We also explain how to delete your personal data from your old laptop or PC before disposing of it.
Computer recycling schemes
One of the best recycling services is called WeeeCharity. This charity will collect your old computer equipment from your home for free. It will also offer to securely erase your data for free. The charity donates refurbished computers to people who need them or recycles them in an environmentally responsible way.
Alternatively, your city council may implement a plan to recycle old computers (but may charge collection fees). For more information visit the website of the Environment Agency or contact their council.
You can also enter your zip code on the Recycle Now website to see if there is a computer recycling uk program near you. In addition, the Freecycle Network helps you give away your old car, and Computer Aid International delivers computers to developing countries.
In any case, you need to take some steps to safely delete data from your computer. Some charities offer to do this for you. If you’d rather take matters into your own hands, follow our tips below.
Restore your computer to factory settings before disposal
Before disposing of your laptop or desktop computer, you must reset it to “factory settings”. In theory, this leaves only the bare operating system and preinstalled programs on the device, and stops access to your files and any programs you add.
Need more help with your computer? Our friendly technical team can assist you with personalized support for a variety of technical issues. Find out more here Computer Recycling
Before starting this process, you need to make sure that you have backed up all the files you need. Store them securely on an external hard drive, new computer, or online cloud storage. If you want to reinstall the software from your old computer to a new one, write down the license keys. You will need them to install paid software (including Microsoft Office) on a new computer.
Use data destruction software
Discarded computers can be recycled anywhere, often with components removed to recover valuable metals. However, potentially sensitive data can also be retrieved at this point, even if the computer was reset to factory settings following the steps above.
To be sure that your data is gone, you should consider using data destruction software. Windows 10 allows you to erase data using factory reset options. If you are using a different operating system, it is recommended that you run additional software.
Wipe data permanently with our guide to cleaning up your hard drive
Remove hard drive
If you’re scrapping a laptop or desktop and don’t want to mess around with data destruction software, the safest way to prevent access to your data is to physically remove your hard drive. You can fit your old hard drive into an external cart available online for around £ 12. This will make it hard drive