What can I do with old devices?
Technology continues to evolve at an ever-increasing rate. As consumers race to keep up with the latest trends, old and out-dated devices are piling up. These devices maybe MP3 players, smartphones, computers, laptops and more. When you are ready to do something about these technological oldies, you have three general options: upcycle/repurpose, resell/donate or destroy/recycle.
Option 1: Upcycle / Repurpose
This option requires a bit of creativity and perhaps a subscription to Instructables. However, you can repurpose old devices without a lot of technical know how. For instance, turn an old smartphone into an audio player, convert an out-dated tablet into a digital picture frame and repurpose retired computers and laptops into digital storage or even private servers. You can also use hard drives, motherboards and other components for new projects or to upgrade other devices. The possibilities are nearly endless and are only limited by your imagination. Other than providing the opportunity for creative projects, the main benefit of this option is that the devices remain in your possession, so you do not need to worry about data security or materials degrading in landfills.
Option 2: Resell / Donate
The average person would most likely consider this option the easiest. In fact, most service providers will give you credit on a new smartphone if you trade in your old phone. There are also charitable organizations that accept donations to distribute phones and other devices to those in need. These both seem like great options, but reselling and donating your devices can leave your data vulnerable to breach and wrongful access. Deleting and factory resets make room for more information to be added. They do NOT erase data. Residual data can even remain after using a wiping program. Never donate or sell a device to any organization that does not guarantee they will protect your information. You can read more about the dangers of reselling HERE.
Option 3: Destroy / Recycle
If your main concern is protecting you information, then you should strongly consider securely destroying your devices. Proper destruction should also include the responsible recycling of materials. Generally, there are only 2 options for securely destroying devices: degaussing (destruction by magnets) or physical crushing and shredding. Find a service provider in your area that will provide the necessary services at a reasonable rate. They may refer to this service as hard drive destruction, media destruction, IT asset destruction, or even e-waste disposal. When selecting a service provider, ask the following basic questions: Are your services 3rd party certified? How will you destroy my devices? How will the materials from the destroyed devices be processed and recycled? Finding a secure service provider will give you peace of mind that your information is protected and that the materials will be responsibly recycled.
Which ever option you choose for your retired devices, always take steps to protect your data and keep electronic waste out of local landfills. For more information about data security and information destruction explore the DSS Security Brief.