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How should you dispose of a computer hard drive?

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Quick Answer

To safely dispose of a computer hard drive, take it to an e-waste processing center or a retailer such as Best Buy that offers electronics recycling, as of 2015. It is also possible to physically destroy the hard drive yourself and include the parts in a normal trash removal.

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Full Answer

One option for disposing of a computer hard drive is to take it to an e-waste processing facility or collection site, as these operations are able to safely dismantle and recycle the components without harming the environment. Sites such as eCyclingCentral.com allow you to search for a nearby location within a specific state. Note that some locations only accept e-waste on a periodic basis rather than at all operating hours. Another option is to visit a retailer that runs its own e-waste processing program or to speak to a local computer shop, as many have access to business-level electronics recycling programs.

Regardless of the method you choose, it is important to wipe the drive and erase all of your personal information. If details such as banking information, sensitive documents and account login details remain on the drive it is possible for another party retrieve them. Many operating systems offer drive formatting options, as do third-party software programs. In some cases, it may be necessary to physically render the drive inoperable to ensure that the data is inaccessible.

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