Has your desktop computer been crashing a lot lately? Is your laptop horribly out of date?

Sounds like you need a replacement!

Whether your current equipment is breaking down or you just feel overdue for an upgrade, sooner or later everyone needs to trade in their old computer for a new one. But what do you do with such obsolete tech? There are multiple options, such reselling it, donating it, trading it in, or disposing of it entirely.

Whatever you choose, there are some crucial steps that everyone should follow, from that lone college student with that beat-up MacBook on up to the big corporations with their sprawling IT departments. Below, we’ll explain how to ensure your data doesn’t end up lost or in the hands of hackers, and why proper computer disposal is such an important part of e-waste recycling.

Back Up Important Files

Anyone who’s ever had the power go out while in the middle of editing a document knows how frustrating it can be when you forget to click that handy dandy little Save button. Now imagine that feeling amplified a million times and applied to every single Word doc, sound file, picture, video, spreadsheet, and database on your hard drives.

It’s always a good idea to create back-ups for your data, but it becomes doubly important when you’re starting the computer disposal process. If your desktops or laptops are reaching the end of their life and you’re looking to trade them in for some slick new models that won’t freeze up every time you try to launch Photoshop, your first priority should be to make copies of all your files and either transfer them to a portable hard drive or upload them to cloud storage.

If you have a lot of files to move, try to figure out what’s most important and focus on that stuff first. That way, if a creaky, old computer glitches out or dies on you, you can rest assured that your precious data is safe.

Erase Sensitive Information

What’s the only thing worse than losing all the sensitive information stored on your computer because you forgot to back it up? Having that same information fall into someone else’s hand because you neglected to wipe the hard drive. A lot of data is stored on our computers, from Internet browsing history and personal emails to stored passwords and credit card information. Carey Parker with Firewalls Don’t Stop Dragons told us that in his opinion, erasing data is the most important and most difficult part of disposing of any tech device. “The most important thing to do before you dispose of a computer (or a smartphone) is to securely erase the hard drive. All or some of your computer data is potentially recoverable.”

Erasing all that data can be tricky. Here’s what you need to do:

Delete all files, clear all browsing history, and uninstall all programs. And when we say all, we mean A-L-L. Common programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint often save personal information, such as your name, address, and email, without you realizing it.

Use data shredding/scrubbing software and drive encryption to overwrite your deleted files. Just because your Recycle Bin is empty doesn’t mean your information is really, truly gone for good. Luckily, there are many free applications available to hunt down and eliminate every last vestige.

Wipe, then physically destroy your hard drive. Yes, we’re serious. Computer drives are like elephants; they never forget. A skilled hacker can reassemble enough data to do some serious damage, even with all the above steps followed to the letter. Need help? Newtech Recycling offers heavy-duty hard drive destruction service, so you can enjoy true privacy protection.

Recycle the Right Way

An estimated 142,000 computers are improperly discarded every single day. That means, instead of being recycled, our old desktop and laptops are taking up space in landfills where they don’t belong. Why is proper computer disposal so important? First, because many of the materials used to make modern electronic devices—chromium, cadmium, lead—are extremely toxic to the environment. Second, because just as many of these materials—gold, silver, platinum—are rare and expensive.

Electronic waste recycling “the right way” means transporting unwanted computers and other technology to a specialized sorting center, such as Newtech Recycling’s own New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-approved facilities. There, each device is carefully broken down into component parts, many of which can then be reused in the manufacturing of new devices.

“But what if I can’t find computer recycling near me?” you ask. Fortunately, Newtech Recycling is one of computer disposal companies proud to offer stress-free pick-up and removal services. Whatever the size of your business, if you need to get rid of e-waste in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania, let Newtech Recycling help you do it the proper, legal, and ethical way.