September 10, 2015

For better or worse, most technology users will replace their various devices every few years.  There are a myriad of reasons: always want the latest and greatest; being forced to update by vendor; or even a complete functional breakdown of the device.  Regardless of the reason, users should plan for these purchases accordingly, with in-depth research and possibly a consultation with knowledgeable IT professionals. (Hello Syzygy 3.)

But what many users and companies don’t ask is what’s to be done with the old technology?

Broken, obsolete, or unused devices take up real estate that you may need for the new technology or other purposes.  It’s also somewhat depressing having old IT just hanging around collecting dust.  (Don’t ask, it just is.)

So really, what should you do?

Well, what you shouldn’t do is simply throw out the devices.  All electronic equipment contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans, animals, and the environment.  The older the device, the more toxins it contains.  For this very reason, it’s now pretty much illegal everywhere to just throw out old IT.  While you may not go to jail for throwing your equipment in the garbage, you can be fined and publicly shamed.

Plus, improper disposal of your old technology presents a security risk.  Cutting and pasting data from one machine to another doesn’t remove the data from your old machine.  It’s still there, and with a little research, fairly simple to retrieve.  This is true for a PC, laptop, tablet, phone, Macbook; if you don’t properly wipe the data from a machine, it can be retrieved.

And your old devices are not your 5-year old car.  They have little to no resale value.  Technology value fades quickly, especially as the cost for the newest device continues to drop.  In rare cases you may get a few bucks, but don’t plan your kid’s college tuition payment around reselling your old IT.

We’ve found the best solution – especially for individuals or small businesses – is to contract with a certified technology recycler to dispose of the old technology.  Most disposal companies will pick up the equipment at your location, destroy the hard drives (either physically or through data wipes) – be sure to get documentation of the destruction – and then dispose of the devices in a legal manner.  Now, depending on the number of devices you want removed, you may have to pay for these services, but in the end, it’ll be money smartly spent.

The story is similar for larger companies, but with their larger quantity of machines, disposal firms may pay them to dispose of the equipment.  (The metals and chemicals in the machines can be re-sold, or the equipment can be re-furbished and sold elsewhere.)

While the trash may be convenient, it’s the wrong place for your old IT.  Be good to the environment or those who may still use your old gear, follow the above suggestion.