Business Recycling

How to prepare an office computer for recycling


Due to WEEE regulations introduced by the European Commission, it is now illegal for businesses to dispose of and mix electronic equipment with general waste.

By recycling used desktop and laptop computers, toxic substances can be safely obtained, precious metals can be extracted, and working parts can be reused.

It is however important for any business to take essential security steps before recycling a computer. Of course, recyclers and are always more than likely wipe a hard drive before it is sent on; for 100 per cent peace of mind however, straight-forward steps can be taken to ensure that all confidential information and data is permanently deleted.

Is wiping the recycle bin enough?

Although the majority of users suspect that once a recycle bin is empty, the information is gone forever – this is not the case.

When a file is deleted from a hard drive, the operating system merely deletes the information that describes where the file is located within the system.

Overwriting data with random zeros and ones is not good enough either, and even a reformatted hard drive can be restored by hackers with the correct knowledge.

How to erase confidential files

Thankfully there are a range of relatively simple solutions – and some of them are free.

You can purchase or download software that permanently removes files from a computer’s hard drive without leaving trace data. Generally, this is done by writing random characters and binary data to as much as 30 times.

Even if a computer has not been used for confidential activities, it is important for businesses to run erasing applications before recycling or donating any computer – passwords are often saved on hard drives.

Which software is best to wipe files?

As already stated, you can download a range of free software to override sensitive information. Here are a couple of the best applications, as recommended by Microsoft:

Active KillDisk

The primary function of Active KillDisk is to erase all confidential data.

Using a variety of algorithms, the software ensures that nothing can be recovered from a hard drive – no matter where it is going, or where it is from.

The programme can be run from Windows (using it only on drives with no open or active files), or it can be used to create bootable CD or floppy disks. Once booted, the programme can wipe Windows, DOS or *nix.

Bear in mind however, that Active KillDisk does not delete single files, so only use the software when it is necessary to wipe an entire drive – although it does supply much opportunity to turn back before pressing the kill button.

Softpedia DP Wipe

Much like Active KillDisk, Softpedia DP Wipe uses multiple removal algorithms to delete files from a computer hard drive.

Unlike KillDisk however, the programme allows for users to drag and drop individual files into the system.

It’s worth pointing out that there is no help file included in the package, but it is quite straight forward to use. For those looking to wipe entire hard drives, it’s also an idea to go with Killdisk.

Andy has worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years and has been published in some of the UK’s top newspapers. He is now the editor Commercial Waste Magazine and contributes to a large selection of headlines and blog articles on the site.

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