How to let go of your old tech securely and responsibly

Written by a NortonLifeLock employee


According to several studies on cost of ownership, users should replace their computer devices every four years. Not everyone will need to upgrade his or her computer every four years, but it’s a good rule to follow to ensure your data is safe and properly protected online.

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To help you remember, every time we have a leap year ask yourself: when was the last time I bought a new computer? If you can’t remember, chances are you may be due for an upgrade. Once you’re ready to make the switch, you’ll need to follow a few steps to ensure your old technology has been properly wiped and recycled, and you’ll need to transfer your data and secure it using security software.

Here are some easy steps to help you on your way.

Wiping Data Securely

You can’t just toss your old computer in the trash. Well, you could, but it’s not a good idea. Your computer has loads of personal information stored inside: information online criminals would love to get their hands on. Before you get rid of old tech, you’ve got to make sure it has been securely wiped. This is also true of any USB or external hard drives you don’t want anymore.

First, you’ll need to download an application to erase your mechanical hard drive. You can select specific files to erase or clear the entire hard drive; it’s up to you.

If your wiping software asks you to identify the number of passes you would like it to run, three is a sufficient number.

Just follow the instructions on whichever software you prefer and wait for it to do its thing. This can sometimes take a while and you should plan accordingly. If the process is interrupted, it may not be completed.

Remember, putting files in the recycle bin is not the same thing as wiping them from the hard drive. These ‘deleted’ files can still be recovered by a professional or stolen by an online criminal, should they gain access to this device

Recycle Old Devices

Once you have successfully wiped your data, the next step is to take your old machine somewhere it can be recycled.

Best Buy has a great recycling program—regardless of where you bought it or how old the machine is, the company will properly dispose of it for free. This also includes recycling for items like VCRs, cords, cables, and radios.

Feel like a doing something charitable? Goodwill takes computers and monitors in any condition, as well as computer accessories. It’s free, and you can get a write-off slip if you ask for one.

Transferring Data

If you backed up your data successfully before you wiped your old hard drive, putting your files back onto a new computer will be a snap. Just plug in your USB or external hard drive and drag your old files onto your new computer.

Securing Data

Now that you’re all set up with a fancy new computer, and all your old data has been replaced, the next step is to secure your new computer and all the personal information inside it.

Some new computers come with a free trial of security software. These are typically only good for a short period of time, and they will likely need to be updated or renewed at some point.

Look for home computer security products such as Norton Security that will help keep your computer updated and prepared for cyber attacks. These include anti-malware, firewall protection, and additional family features for users with young children.

Don’t leave your computer unprotected, especially after you went through all the trouble of remembering to upgrade your hardware!

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30 days of FREE* comprehensive antivirus, device security and online privacy with Norton Secure VPN.

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Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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