At IMSInkspot, we pride ourselves on our commitment to the environment. Our line of business (selling remanufactured ink and toner cartridges), combined with our ISO certification (certified ISO: 14001) and recycling programs are examples of how seriously we take recycling and the benefits we think they provide the world we share.

One issue I’ve seen brought up several times is that of erasing your personal information in electronic devices that are turned over for recycling, especially with cell phones and computer hard drives. Ensuring that your personal data, including emails and addresses, credit card numbers, etc. cannot be recovered if of great importance. Today we’re going to take a quick look at how to make sure your personal data is protected before you turn those devices over to a recycling program.

A tactic I’ve seen many use is to physically damage the hard drive in the computer, or to remove it altogether, before turning it over for recycling. While both of those methods will prevent your personal data from falling into the wrong hands, it also takes away from the recycling of the computer. Many systems, if still salvageable, will be refurbished and sent to programs for people who otherwise couldn’t afford a computer system. Having to replace a missing or damaged hard drive adds to the cost, which means fewer computers in the hands of those who need them.

For many people, booting up your system from your Windows CD and reformatting the drive will be sufficient to erase your personal data. If you want to go further, however, and ensure no-one without advanced forensics tools will ever be able to get anything from your disk, while still ensuring it will be useable for whomever inherits it, then there are free tools available to securely delete your hard drive. For myself, I have used Darik’s Boot and Nuke and Disk Wipe to great success; both are fairly easy to use and will ensure your data is safely deleted.

For cellphones, the process is still relatively easy. For Apple iPhone users, it’s best to follow the directions indicated in this article. For Android users, the process should be relatively simple, as well; go to settings, backup and reset, and choose “factory data reset”. Recent tests, however, have concluded that your data may still be recoverable if someone really wants it. Your best bet is to use one of the freely-available deletion apps available via the google play store (iShredder 3 and Secure Wipe are both highly rated, free solutions) before restoring your phone to default. Always remember, too, that you’ll want to remove any SD cards from your phone, as well as your SIM card.

As always, if you need help clearing data from your phone or computer, we’d be pleased to assist you. We can do it for you for a flat fee of $25.00. If you need more info about our recycling drop-off program, including eligible items for recycling, please check out our e-waste page for more details.