How do I prepare old laptops and desktop towers for donation or recycling?

StarSong

Awkward is my Superpower
DH and I have a fairly substantial graveyard of old laptops and desktops, most are remnants from the (now closed) retail component of our small business. Most are Windows 7 or 8.

Is there an easy way to wipe these hard drives clean, or remove them? If it's best to simply remove them, what do I then do with the hard drives?

The City of Los Angeles has a hazardous materials collection site that takes unwanted electronics so when I'm confident that sensitive information has been purged, I can take the components there.
 

bowmore

Senior Member

Wiping your hard drive​


Microsoft® Windows® 8.1 and 10
If you’re using Windows 8.1 or 10, wiping your hard drive is easy.
  1. Select Settings (the gear icon on the Start menu)
  2. Select Update & security, then Recovery
  3. Choose Remove everything, then Remove files and clean the drive
  4. Then click Next, Reset, and Continue
 
If nothing else my best advice is to remove the hard drives and don't trust anybody to dispose of them for you unless they destroy them completely in your presence. I would not sell them to anybody without hard drives. Just donate them to The Salvation Army and be done with it. I hoped this helped.
 

ElCastor

Member
Location
Northern CA
Thank you so much, @bowmore. That was exactly the kind of direction I was hoping for.

@FastTrax, if I can't figure out something else I might need to remove hard drives but that would render the computers useless to the Salvation Army.
The only way to be certain with a hard drive is to remove it and give it a thorough bashing with a hammer. Some drill large holes in them, but the hammer is easier. Locally if I have a question about how to dispose of a difficult item I call the trash collection service. They have always been helpful.
 
Thank you so much, @bowmore. That was exactly the kind of direction I was hoping for.

@FastTrax, if I can't figure out something else I might need to remove hard drives but that would render the computers useless to the Salvation Army.

I picked the Salvation Army over Goodwill because the SA is a disaster, rescue relief response organization and charity, homeless sheltering and work training program, basic career training and education program. They are involved in the global E-Commerce project where hundreds of tons of unrepairable electronic devices are shipped to Africa for indigenous boys trained to study and rehab what is salvageable and the rest is deemed as E-Waste. The problem with the E-Waste Program is a large number of countries are illegally dumping tons of Certified E-Waste at the ports being reported as E-Commerce. This problem is similar to Several countries illegally dumping toxic waste off the shores of Somalia destroying their fishing industry.
 

StarSong

Awkward is my Superpower
General. Maybe brand specific has videos

How to Remove the Hard Drive From an Old Computer Tower :



How to Remove a Hard Disk from a Laptop in a Few Minutes


Once removed like ElCastor recommended bash it with a hammer
Thank you for these video links. Very helpful!

I appreciate everyone's assistance on this thread. I'll check with the Salvation Army to see if they accept desktop and laptop computers at all - with or without hard drives.
 

RB-TX

New Member
Just a thought - - -
Remove your hard drive as per video (earlier post here) and buy a case for it at any comp' store and then attach it to your comp with USB cable. Now you still have your data or delete all the files and use it as extra memory or as storage for your comp' backups.
 

RFW

Certified Night Owl
Location
United States
While the method in comment #2 does delete all files on the drive. It doesn't prevent it from being recovered. If you have sensitive data you want to make unrecoverable, even by professionals, use DBAN. It's very easy and doesn't need a working operating system to run, as long as the computer is able to boot up. The downside is it takes quite a bit of time, depending on the size of the HDD. Instructions below. Otherwise, just remove and destroy it.


Updated with a better tutorial.
 
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StarSong

Awkward is my Superpower
I've been working on this project, thank you all for your assistance.

It's a shame really... yesterday I wiped a laptop with a Vista operating system, meaning it's roughly 15 years old. It still works perfectly. Sure, it would be all kinds of glitchy and open to viruses if on the internet, but for non-internet purposes like word processing, spreadsheets, old games, etc., it's still just fine. Just outdated.
 

JustinCase

UNIX/Linux
You could send them to me, I could install Linux OS's on each🙂. Only problems I can see: I wouldn't trust myself with all that stored data & my wife would have cause for 'justifiable homicide' against me. She's been trying to get rid of my electronic 'parts is parts' for years. Seriously it's a world wide problem trashing electronics. I read where there is a environmental issue with some African countries dumping them into the ocean. Polluting off-shore fishing.
 
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StarSong

Awkward is my Superpower
You could send them to me, I could install Linux OS's on each🙂. Only problems I can see: I wouldn't trust me with all that stored data & my wife would have cause for 'justifiable homicide' against me. She's been trying to get rid of my electronic 'parts is parts' for years. Seriously it's a world wide problem trashing electronics. I read where there is a environmental issue with some African countries dumping them into the ocean. Polluting off-shore fishing.
Not a lot of personal or stored data on most of these, TBH. They were primarily used as cash register (slave) computers for the traveling retail component of our small business. We'd set up a store with racks of merchandise early morning and tear everything down that evening. Then load it in the truck and bring everything back to our warehouse to be unloaded the following day. Computers and printers lived at our house when not having an in-person sale event. We did these about 30 times a year for many years.

I had seven registers (laptops and printers) hard wired to a master laptop that ran the cash register program, and ethernet connections to the internet for processing credit cards.

As small business owners DH and I wore many hats. One of mine was setting up the computers for every sale, building and maintaining our websites, overseeing online sales, and all other tech support. I was completely self-taught.

Gotta say, it got pretty dicey at moments but I always got things up and running.
 

Nathan

Senior Member
You could send them to me, I could install Linux OS's on each🙂. Only problems I can see: I wouldn't trust myself with all that stored data & my wife would have cause for 'justifiable homicide' against me. She's been trying to get rid of my electronic 'parts is parts' for years. Seriously it's a world wide problem trashing electronics. I read where there is a environmental issue with some African countries dumping them into the ocean. Polluting off-shore fishing.
I have some vintage hardware that I refuse to merely go to e-waste, has to go to a loving home. some of my pride & joy:

sun&IBM.jpg

A little help with shipping costs and these gems can be had for free!
 

JustinCase

UNIX/Linux
Formatting doesn't remove the files they can still be hacked & restored. Printers have a HD with data from everything you've ever printed. I always use the removal/hammer attack method. A good hard drive degausser is your best non-violent approach.
 
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Nathan

Senior Member
Formatting doesn't remove the files they can still be hacked & restored. Printers have a HD with data from everything you've ever printed. I always use the removal/hammer attack method.
I have several hard drives that are awaiting their final demise. One was wiped with dban and the others with the "dd" command
Code:
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdx bs=1M
, filling the hard drive with zeros, which is sufficient unless the NSA, M15 or FSB(ФСБ) were after you.

2hdd.jpg




If you just remove/destroy the flat ribbon cable(underside) or pc board, that will be sufficient to thwart information retrieval by any common dumpster diver.


1hdd.jpg
 

StarSong

Awkward is my Superpower
Here's the thing - I really don't want to destroy these laptops and desktops. In fact, after wiping them clean I very much hope to find a charity that could use them. Their operating systems might be out of date, but they work perfectly.

So that's the next question. Can anyone point me to a charity that could make use of older laptops and towers?
 

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