The Absolute IT Asset Disposal Blog

How To Ensure Data Sanitisation When Recycling IT Equipment


The continued accuracy of Moore’s Law ensures that as new computers and IT equipment is continually getting faster and more powerful this means that every year, millions of computers become obsolete in offices around the country. Add to this old smart phones and tablets and you get a global ‘e-waste’ estimate of more than 40 million tonnes per year. What happens to this electronic garbage? About 60% of it goes directly to landfill sites, with the remainder being either recycled, reused or stripped for parts. Most of the refurbished hard drives, smart phones and laptops end up being sold cheaply in the developing world.

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What happens to the data?

Here is where the question of data becomes important. On each of these machines is an untold volume of data, ranging from email addresses to names, demographic details, consumer preferences, secret correspondence, bank details, credit records and so on.

As you'll be aware, data is the currency of the internet, and the rise in cybercrime, terrorism and identity theft makes data sanitisation especially important. Recycling IT equipment without adequate data sanitisation puts you, your colleagues, your employer and your customers at risk of cybercrime. This may seem like common sense, but it remains true that the majority of DIY data deletion attempts are unsuccessful at removing all sensitive data from your hard drive or device. If recycled, there is no telling where this sensitive data may end up and for what purposes it may be used. This places a huge burden of risk on the shoulders of a company disposing of IT equipment.

What about the free IT recycling companies?

Free IT recycling is a popular option at the moment, especially for businesses looking to save costs when regularly updating their IT infrastructure to keep up with technological changes. Recycling companies such as these can afford to offer a free service because they make their money either stripping obsolete computers down into their component parts or refurbishing them for resale in Africa, South America or the Middle East. The danger of these free IT recycling services is in their lack of data sanitisation knowledge. The employees who handle the recycling collections and the processing often do not have specialised IT knowledge themselves.

With uncertain returns, the company simply cannot afford investing in the expertise and time required to thoroughly cleanse old devices of sensitive data. So they are happy to take the risk that the data will fall into the wrong hands, knowing that it will not affect them directly. Instead, it is your business that must bear the brunt of responsibility if one of your customers or employees ends up being the victim of fraud or cybercrime. Unfortunately, there is very little that you’re able to do to mitigate this risk, as once you have handed over your old equipment, there is usually no audit trail or process hierarchy you can follow.

Although cybercrime itself is on the rise, the statistical chance of it happening to your particular company is fairly low, but the chance is there and it only has to happen once. If it does, and if the incident is ever traced back to obsolete hardware disposed of by you and your business, then the consequences can be very severe.

What is the alternative?

The alternative, and the best way to ensure data sanitisation when recycling your IT equipment, is to turn to a team of experts with proven experience in data cleansing. At Absolute IT we offer full data sanitisation as standard with our recycling service. It isn’t ‘free’ in terms of upfront costs because we have a skilled job to do and it takes time, but in terms of risk it is far less costly than the so-called ‘free recycling’ alternatives. As a customer we offer you peace of mind that your old IT equipment will be recycled and disposed of in a safe, secure and environmentally sustainable way. Your customers, your teammates and your sensitive data will never be compromised through inadequate cleansing, and you will have access to a full audit trail that proves every step of the process we take. To find out more, email: or call us on 01332 228180.

How To Dispose of Old IT Equipment

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