Author Topic: Recycling knackered old PCs/ laptops  (Read 980 times)

23 Daves

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Recycling knackered old PCs/ laptops
« on: June 09, 2013, 02:36:40 PM »
I've got three very old IBM laptops at home which are taking up space, and are faulty in some way or another. One has a broken screen. The other two have hard drives which won't boot, or if they do boot it leaves you with a machine which usually blue-screens after a minute or so.

There's utterly no point in spending money to get these repaired since we've completely moved on from them and they'd be insufferably slow on the modern Internet, but unfortunately we do have some confidential data on the hard drive, but given their condition can't actually get to it to erase it. I'm not 100% sure what's on there, but there's likely to be names, addresses, National Insurance numbers and occasionally some bank details such as account numbers and sort codes. 

So then... if we send these off to a recycling company, what are the odds that somebody can get at the hard drive data and potentially abuse it, even the ones that don't boot properly?  Is this something I should be worried about, or should I just relax and hand over the PCs to a professional company?  I was looking at this organisation here: http://www.laptop-recycling.com but as I've never tried anything of this nature myself, I was wondering if you lot had.

Sorry for asking such a dull question, but it doesn't seem as if this is something many people I know have given thought to.

Zetetic

  • Burying isn't the same as killing.
Re: Recycling knackered old PCs/ laptops
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2013, 02:49:55 PM »
How hard are they to open? You could always dissemble the hard drives yourself and do sufficient physical damage to not worry about anyone beyond the NSA bothering to try get anything of them.

You tend to get some good magnets out of them as well, to the extent where there's a tiny, tiny bit of danger involved.

Quote
Is this something I should be worried about, or should I just relax and hand over the PCs to a professional company?
Get them to tell you what standards they conform to both in terms of their own processes (ISO 27001:2005, probably) and how well they'll destroy any data (which I imagine will be something largely made up but they might mention ADISA or the MoD).

While it'll still be a matter of trust (which will hopefully be improved by them being able to answer these questions), you'll at least made it their fault if something is recovered.

Big Jack McBastard

  • Dancing on unicorn bones.
Re: Recycling knackered old PCs/ laptops
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2013, 02:51:00 PM »
Run a few tasty magnets over em or wallop the HDs with a shovel until the plates are a mess.

Big Jack McBastard

  • Dancing on unicorn bones.
Re: Recycling knackered old PCs/ laptops
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2013, 02:58:48 PM »
Oh and hold the shovel loosely cos there's some wicked reverb up the shaft (ooh err) when you you crack one dead on.

23 Daves

  • Break a leg!
    • Left and to the Back
Re: Recycling knackered old PCs/ laptops
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2013, 03:05:49 PM »
How hard are they to open? You could always dissemble the hard drives yourself and do sufficient physical damage to not worry about anyone beyond the NSA bothering to try get anything of them.

From memory - because it's been years since I even tried - I think they're quite difficult to get into. But I can give it another go.  The irritating thing is that we wouldn't have stored anything massively confidential on them.  We're not stupid enough to put memory triggers for passwords (or indeed the passwords themselves) directly on to our PCs.  However, there's bound to be job applications on there or back-ups of forms with just enough data that somebody could do a little bit of identity theft if they felt that way inclined (especially as the files are likely to contain our previous addresses as well as our current one). 

Quote
Get them to tell you what standards they conform to both in terms of their own processes (ISO 27001:2005, probably) and how well they'll destroy any data (which I imagine will be something largely made up but they might mention ADISA or the MoD).

Thanks, I may end up having to do that if I can't break into the computer using normal means. 

Koant

  • Wittier than a really witty thing
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Re: Recycling knackered old PCs/ laptops
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2013, 03:12:30 PM »
I've used http://www.dban.org/ professionally. It writes random numbers all over the HD, with multiple passes.

Zetetic

  • Burying isn't the same as killing.
Re: Recycling knackered old PCs/ laptops
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2013, 03:13:38 PM »
Bit difficult if they won't Boot.

Koant

  • Wittier than a really witty thing
    • Koantig
Re: Recycling knackered old PCs/ laptops
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2013, 03:23:45 PM »
Might be just because of a defective HD? DBAN is ran from a CD/USB, not from the target device. It runs on a light linux.

Otherwise, you can follow Google's practice: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SCZzgfdTBo#at=3m30 :)