How To Prepare Your Old Device For Recycling

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Recently, electronic waste has been said to be at alarming levels worldwide. Some countries have significantly reduced e-waste and are, in general, recycling more. The UK is among them, with a 31.2% recycling rate in 2022, above the global United Nations average. However, there is more room for improvement. Below are some steps to prepare your old tech devices before recycling.

  • Backup your data

Backing up your data is necessary because it allows continuity. Secondly, it prevents data loss – something most device users hate to experience. Backing up data would require resources and tools like an external hard drive or a newer model of the same device. However, tech experts recommend backing your data to Cloud platforms because they offer better security. Furthermore, your Cloud-backed data is easily retrievable because of the reduced and almost non-existent risk of losing your information.

According to a tech consumer report, 35% of people fail to back up their data. And 51% of computer users only remember to back up their data when they experience technical problems with a device. Lastly, 14% of device users back up data when they have a new device and want to transfer details from the old one. These statistics portray an obvious lack of knowledge on why data backup is necessary, whether or not the device has developed a problem. Your intention to recycle your old tech makes it mandatory to protect your crucial digital details.

  • Take out hard drives and other useful hardware

A hard drive is a storage component of a communication gadget. It is where all your data is contained. It is worth noting that removing it alone does not solve 100% of a lurking security issue. If your ultimate recycling plan is to donate the device, your hard drive can become a weak link in your data security. The device itself must be wiped first before removing the drive. However, it is also possible to transfer data from an older hard drive to your newer device.

Sometimes, you may have a removable memory card inside your computer, smartphone, tablet, or digital camera. It would help if you remembered to retrieve this because it can be of further use to you. For instance, you can slot a previously used removable memory card into an Olympus OMD EM10 digital camera to extend the internal storage capacity.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s procedure to wipe your data

Wiping data from your old device goes beyond deleting files. Instead, it is the deliberate permanent removal of all personal data traceable to you. In the period you used your computer, mobile phone, iPad, tablet, etc., you might have engaged in online transactions. And every transaction leaves a digital footprint on your device. Therefore, your passwords, PIN, user names, transacting institutions’ names, etc., leave a trail on your device. This is usually known and indicated as cookies on your device.

They are files purposely designed to enhance your online experience. For example, cookies are responsible for keeping you signed in to your email account and other programs. Without deleting these sensitive details, there is a high risk of compromising your data. This matters if your recycling plan involves swapping devices with a dealer. In other words, anybody who handles your old device can retrieve any personal information you ordinarily would not want others to have. Fortunately, every device comes with a factory reset option that makes wiping your data convenient. However, every manufacturer has a different approach to factory resetting. This is why you must go back to that information to completely wipe data from your phone. It also ensures accuracy so that no one can access your information.

  • Deactivate every registered programme and subscription

Statistics show that four out of five smartphone users have at least one active subscription. It also indicates that 8 out of 10 consumers are active users of registered online programmes that record personal information. These programs are a constant feature in many people’s lives, from students to executives. And before recycling your old tech device, experts recommend deactivating or disabling such licensed programmes.

For example, if you use Microsoft Windows on your device, you may be familiar with the term ‘product key’, also known as ‘activation key’. It is an alphanumeric code that certifies the authenticity of a computer programme. By disabling or deauthorising it, you prevent another person from using your product key illegally. Moreover, if you have a newer device, you can transfer this code to it.

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