To keep up with changing technology and improve user productivity, companies need to periodically update their personal computer fleets. Before new systems are installed, a decision must be made regarding what to do with the remaining retired equipment.
Wipe Data before IT Asset Retirement
It is important to be certain no sensitive data is left on hard drives of retired computers. The drives can be wiped with multiple passes for increased security by using one of many free utilities available online. Some enterprises choose the additional step of physically destroying the drive either with a shredder or by puncturing a hole through the platter. The downside to this is that the drive cannot be repurposed for another system. In most cases, no traces of your sensitive data remain on a drive if a proper wipe is performed.
1. Find an IT Reseller to Refurbish, Appraise and Remarket Your Retired IT fleet
Often it is not economical or practical for a company to sell its fleet of used desktops, laptops or tablets on their own. Depending on the age and number of devices, it may be advantageous to seek out an IT Reseller who has experience refurbishing, appraising, and reselling computer systems. Value is added in the refurbishing process, so engaging an IT Reseller can maximize the recovery of the original investment in the computers. This includes cleaning, repairing, and combining systems so that they are in a functioning state. Some resellers pack and pick up the equipment for you, further reducing the hassle of disposing of retired IT assets. If some of the retired equipment is non-functioning or damaged, the best Resellers have technical resources to tear down the systems and salvage or sell individual components. If no value can be recovered from specific devices, an R-2 Certified Reseller has the ability to recycle e-waste in an environmentally-friendly and regulatory-compliant way.
It may be possible to repurpose older systems, for example, moving a powerful engineering workstation to an accounting function within an enterprise. If a company has a centralized server that can be accessed remotely, older systems can be set up as virtual terminals. By installing free operating systems such as a Linux distribution, these computers can be re-purposed with no additional software cost. Another possibility is to donate computers to an organization that would make good use of them such as primary and secondary schools, libraries, senior community centers, etc. Doing this not only helps those who need it, but it can also be written off for tax purposes.
When computer devices have been determined to be at the end of their useful life, responsible electronic waste recycling is the best option. On its Electronics recycling webpage, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states:
“electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Donating or recycling electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials.” (http://www2.epa.gov/recycle/electronics-donation-and-recycling#where)
The EPA also “encourages customers to choose certified electronics recyclers. Certified electronics recyclers have demonstrated through audits and other means that they continually meet specific high environmental standards and safely manage used electronics. Responsible electronics recycling provides important benefits, such as:
• Reducing environmental and human health impacts from improper recycling;
• Increasing access to quality reusable and refurbished equipment to those who need them; and
• Reducing energy use and other environmental impacts associated with mining and processing of virgin materials – conserving our limited natural resources.”
Illegal dumping of electronic waste in landfills may result in thousands of dollars in fines daily, as well as criminal penalties. It is important to understand options for retiring a company’s end-of-life IT assets to recover any residual monetary value by reselling and breaking down for parts or donating, as well as to be in compliance with e-waste regulations so as not to be at risk for fines or penalties. An effective course of action can reduce the cost and productivity impact of upgrading to a new fleet. Have you evaluated your company’s options when it comes to retiring IT devices?