Electronics Recycling

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Electronics Recycling

Post by Barefootgirl » Sun Oct 30, 2016 12:41 pm

Next week, the county I live in is having an electronics recycling event. People who reside in the county can bring their unwanted electronics to a certain location where they can be turned in, no fees unless a person wants to get rid of old TVs or monitors.

I have a couple old laptops (they weigh a ton!) that I have not used in years, so I think I will take them to the event just to be rid of them.

There is no information on the website as to what they do with computers with hard drives. I still have old personal data on the computers (such as SS number), but cannot access it to erase it (computer won't boot, fried, etc.)

So, I am curious as to what they typically do. I have called, but all I get is a recording. Does anyone know what they typically do? do they crush them?

How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by RudyS » Sun Oct 30, 2016 12:59 pm

Google: remove hard drive from laptop. This came up, plus more:
http://www.dell.com/support/Article/us/ ... N155133/EN

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by btenny » Sun Oct 30, 2016 12:59 pm

I don't have any clue what they will do at the exact place you mention. Maybe they will smash the stuff or maybe they will pack it up or maybe they will sort it and resell some of it. It is quite common for old electronics to be bundled up and sent in pallets or big bundles to some third world country for dismantling or resale. Thus your hard drive with all your info on it could go to some third world country. You just have no control over the stuff once you turn it over to this place.

So I recommend you take the laptops and computers apart and take out the hard drives. Get some local teenager to help with this dismantling if needed. Then take a hammer to the hard drive and smash it. Have some fun hitting it. Really hammer it hard so it is totally destroyed. Then send both the old laptop and the smashed drive to the event.

Good Luck.

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by furwut » Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:00 pm

Ideally you would remove and destroy the hard drive yourself. Once you've turned in a computer for recycling there is just no way of telling where the chain of custody will go.

On the other hand just about any personal data about oneself can be had commercially for a few dollars on the internet if someone is really interested.

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by Stonebr » Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:57 pm

You must assume the worst -- that the recycling program is run entirely by evil criminals.

Remove the hard drives and beat them to smithereens with a hammer.
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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by Bylo Selhi » Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:58 pm

See How to Destroy a Hard Drive—Permanently and 10 Easy Ways to Destroy a Hard Drive

It's better to remove the aluminum cover plate (held by Torx or hex screws) before you start hammering. Note that hard disk platters are often made from magnetically-coated glass. They will splinter when hammered with shards flying in all directions. Make sure to wear protective clothing and eye protection and/or take other precautions like putting the hard disk inside a cardboard box before you begin hammering.

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by lthenderson » Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:03 pm

I remove hard drives always and just recycle the rest of the electronic parts. I don't put the computers back together. I generally bust up the platters in the hard drive with a hammer and scatter out the pieces in a few different trash pickup cycles. The rest of the hard drive gets recycled with the rest of the electronic parts. A word of caution though. Make sure you have eye protection and do it somewhere outdoors. Those platters break into millions of tiny shards pretty easily that would be hard to get out of the dining room rug.

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by retire57 » Sun Oct 30, 2016 3:19 pm

I always remove the hard drives before recycling too. Yet I'm not too crazy about the hammer method, which is why I still have 2 hard drives lying around. I've been wondering - what about running over them with my car? Submerging them in water?

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by southbay » Sun Oct 30, 2016 3:22 pm

Never dispose of a hard drive until you have destroyed it.

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by Nyc10036 » Sun Oct 30, 2016 3:42 pm


But I don't keep sensitive information on the hard drive.
I use external drives for that. Requires some discipline.

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by jebmke » Sun Oct 30, 2016 3:42 pm

If you can boot to a CD you can probably run DBAN and wipe the drive. Otherwise, mechanical destruction is your best bet.
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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Oct 30, 2016 4:50 pm

I am not a fan of hammering hard drives, simply due to the risk of flying metal. If the system isn't bootable, the drive can be removed and put in a drive docking station for virtual destruction with a program like DBAN.

A drive docking station that supports both SATA and IDE hard drives should handle 90% of the hardware out there. But you might not need IDE support, depending on how old the systems are.

Edit: And if you can't access the drive through the docking station, you're pretty safe recycling the drive without physical destruction. Unless you're a high-profile target where someone would take the time to electron scan the hard drive, a thief isn't going to bother with an non-readable drive.
Last edited by Mudpuppy on Sun Oct 30, 2016 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by likegarden » Sun Oct 30, 2016 4:51 pm

I use a 5 lb hammer for the hard drive. My town stopped picking up TVs and PCs at the curb, so they end up in the large garbage container, for garbage company to sort out.

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by BolderBoy » Sun Oct 30, 2016 5:23 pm

Barefootgirl -

Are you geeky at all? The drive can be simply and quickly encrypted then just given away.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

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Re: Electronics Recycling

Post by Nyc10036 » Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:00 pm

I would not obsess too much about this.

Have you considered what happens to the hard drives of PCs from your doctor, dentist, car repair offices?
I would be more concernedabout what they do!

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