Old computers are safely disposed of by wiping the hard drive and donating or recycling the unit. Using a responsible electronics recycler keeps the computer and its potentially dangerous components out of the landfill. If the computer still works, donating it to a charity is another option.
Clearing the hard drive is essential to protecting private information, such as passwords, financial information, health information, addresses and account numbers. Programs installed on the computer may contain personal information, so they should be uninstalled. Software programs are available to overwrite files on the computer, which prevents them from being found with file recovery software. Special software also wipes the hard drive to get rid of any lingering information.
The e-Stewards program helps consumers find responsible electronics recycling companies with the "Find a Recycler" option. If a recycling facility is not available, Staples stores accept used electronics for recycling. Some electronics manufacturers also accept old models. The consumer may need to remove the battery and recycle it separately.
Recycling the old computer benefits the environment by preventing toxic materials from leeching into the ground in a landfill. Many of the materials in the computer can be reused, which reduces pollution that would occur to manufacture new materials.