Updating IT equipment isn't like updating furniture. Before exchanging the old for the new, your IT department will need to brainstorm on how to securely and efficiently prepare your technology for disposal, no matter what you're doing with it. As a business leader, you must oversee this operation to ensure every aspect is addressed. Here are just a few of the things you'll need to consider when getting rid of your outdated IT equipment.
Security, security and even more security
Even though some of this hardware might have been squatting in a broom closet since Y2K, disposing of it improperly can get you and your business into hot water. According to TechRadar, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act as well as the PCI Data Security Standards will take action against any organization that jeopardizes the integrity of customer information. Moreover, by simply throwing out modems or other storage technology without running the proper security diagnostics, your company runs the risk of losing trade secrets, financial documents, employee information and who knows what else. You could even accidentally cough up access portals to your current computer networks depending on the type of equipment you're unloading.
"All data, in one way or another, survives death."
The simplest way to secure any residual information lurking in your old hard disks is to destroy it. No, not simply drag the files and drop them into a virtual recycling bin. Destroy like swinging a sledgehammer straight at the motherboard.
No, that was not a real suggestion, simply the truth. The only easy method for securing old hardware is to break it. Apart from the therapeutic thrill bashing your old tech might bring, selling your old technology is the most responsible way to go. It could help you recoup the cost of your latest equipment update, perhaps even turn a profit to squirrel away for extra punch at the annual office holiday party.
However – and this cannot be stressed enough – chances are, the people in the market for your technology will likely know how to use it. All data, in one way or another, survives death. Once data has been imprinted on a hard drive, it needs to be overwritten, and even then there's no guarantee a person won't come along and attempt to piece it all back together. TechRepublic recommends discussing disk overwriting programs that not only scratch out all of your data, but imprint random sequences of information in their place. After a couple rounds of digital scrubbing, this process will make your hard drives spotless and ready for sale. If you're looking to shed other kinds of tech like office smartphones, tablets or flash drives, the same rule applies.
Compassion to your neighborhood and planet
Of course, not everything will find a buyer. Once the data has been completely eradicated from your hard drives, now your company must figure out exactly how to discard the remains. While it may be tempting to just chuck the whole kit and caboodle in the dumpster out back, suppress those urges. Computer equipment contains harmful metals that could get into the groundwater as well as plastics that will take centuries to biodegrade. Instead, research reputable recyclers who will disassemble and separate your old equipment's components, sending them through the individual channels for proper disposal.
But just because your company has no need for this varied technology doesn't mean other people don't. Donating old equipment to schools, libraries or community centers will not only earn you your good deed for the day, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, you may be eligible for a break on your taxes.
What to do in the meantime
At the start of this article, were you planning to just ditch your equipment at the curb? If you're now reconsidering what to do with your IT equipment, congratulations, you're doing the right thing for your business, your customers and perhaps even Mother Nature herself. Use this opportunity to update your office's "end-of-life" technology protocol. Move your storage to a more secure location to limit the amount of people who have access to it. Maybe even start a running inventory on the property you're relinquishing and where it's going to go.
IT and tech industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.