Secure computer disposal
One aspect of computer management often overlooked is that of what to do with personal computers, laptops and servers once they reach the end of their useful life. The most important factor is that these machines will contain valuable and confidential data. Just deleting this data will not remove it securely from a device. It is relatively easy for a knowledgeable computer user to recover deleted data from a PC, laptop or server.
Data can be recovered using data recovery products, some of which are free on the Internet. Deleting partitions or reformatting will not work either as there are many ways to recover deleted partitions or recovering from a format. It is not even necessary to have the machine as data can quickly be retrieved by connecting a drive to another computer.
Company data falling into the wrong hands could be damaging in all sorts of ways. The financial loss to the business, loss of customer confidence, loss of reputation or even legal action for failure to secure data and breaching General Data Protection Regulation. There have been numerous high profile cases of government data falling into the wrong hands which highlight some of the risks.
Many people think “if I delete the data and format the disk then no one would bother trying to recover my data and in any case, there is nothing confidential on it”. On the confidentiality front, people can be very creative, finding ways to misuse other peoples data. Could anyone be bothered, possibly not but hackers spend vast amounts of time trying to get into people’s systems? A computer hard disk full of data would be a treasure trove for them. Do you want to take the risk?
Other considerations are what to do with the physical machine. It is illegal to dump them so they must go to a licensed recycling company who will charge for disposal. Some companies want to donate old computers to charities or third world countries. That is good for the environment and means more use for older machines.
Whatever happens to these machines it is essential that they are securely erased before disposal.
There are three main ways of destroying data from a computer hard disk.
- A software program is used that writes meaningless data to every part of the disk destroying all data. Some programmes make more than one pass, and this is required to comply with some standards. The machine is reusable as it is not damaged.
- Degaussing involves removing the drive and subjecting it to a powerful magnetic field, which destroys all the data and damages the drive. This needs a specialist and costly hardware which is also very heavy, so is not practical.
- Physical destruction obviously means the device can’t be reused. Destruction must be done safely and effectively which is not practical in the office environment.
To reuse the machine the only option is software based erasure. Secure wiping a computer needs power, a monitor and keyboard. To make this task as easy as possible Atomik.biz favours using a bootable memory stick with the erasure software on it. USB sticks are quick to boot, the machine does not have to have a working operating system, and you don’t need the password.
Wiping multiple computers simultaneously, will save time and therefore money. As the software has to write data to every part of the disk, it will take some time, typically twenty minutes to an hour per drive depending on the performance of the machine and the size of the disk drive.
Wiping servers is more complicated when data is in fault-tolerant RAID systems. Servers typically need additional drivers to boot so can’t be erased using the same process as laptops and PCs. Depending on the hardware there are various options for secure wiping servers.
The Atomik.biz prefered solution for disposal of machines is to run a software-erase program on each computer which is then collected for recycling. If this is not possible, we will destroy the drive with our ten-tonne hydraulic press. There is often no charge for collection, but this may vary depending on numbers of machines and collection costs. Erased computers are refurbished and reused if possible.
Office Equipment removal and recycling
Atomik.biz offers a service to clear old computers, screens, phone systems and communication equipment. There are several common scenarios where we remove equipment.
Removing old broken or disused equipment from a functioning business.
Old equipment often sits around offices for months or years as it has company information so can’t just be dumped or given away. This equipment usually has no value so is just recycled but has to be securely wiped first. We wipe it on site or remove it and wipe it at our premises before recycling it. In either case, a certificate is produced which proves the data has been securely erased. This equipment has no value so we charge for the service. If disk drives are not working a certificate can’t be produced. If that is the case drives are physically destroyed with a hydraulic press, which has to be done off-site for health and safety reasons and because the equipment is not portable.
Another scenario is a company is closing down. It is still important to securely wipe the data and produce certificates. If the machine is reusable, it will have some value which we will offset against the costs of recycling. The service we offer is removing all computers, printers, screens, phones, comms equipment, software manuals etc.
We will negotiate with the liquidators and arrange a timely office clearance.
For secure removal of equipment
Please use the Contact us page or call us on 01525540041 or 02033271747