How to Remove Data from Electronics Before Recycling


Data theft concerns are often a roadblock to electronics recycling. Photo: Shutterstock

By recycling one million laptops, we can save the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,500 American homes in a year, according to the EPA. This is one of many good reasons to recycle old electronics, yet recycling rates could be much higher. Only 38 percent of old computers that had reached the end of their useful lives were collected for recycling in 2009, and for cellphones that number was even lower at 8 percent.

Privacy and data theft concerns are often-cited reasons for why people hang on to old electronics. The average person may not know how to ensure a laptop’s hard drive is unreadable or that personal data has been removed from a cellphone.

Removing this data can be done in just a few steps, and we’ve compiled information and resources to help walk you through the process. Keep reading so you can recycle those old electronics and feel confident that your personal information won’t be compromised.

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