It is said that the life cycle of a PC today is three years. As the price of PCs drops rapidly, it may be common for manufacturers to design with a durability of about 3 years. For individual use, it may be used for a little longer though, for companies, usually it takes about three years to replace it with a new model. When you buy a new PC, you may dispose of the old one. Since the one might have an internal HDD or SSD that contains your important data, if they are thrown away without data erase, they may be extracted by someone and may be misused. This content introduces how to properly dispose of used PCs, external HDDs, and SSDs.
・1. How to properly dispose of a PC
Before disposing of your PC, check again that you have migrated all the data you need to your new PC. Since PCs are required to be recycled based on the Law for Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources in Japan, it is not allowed to dispose them as non-burnable garbage. Those with a PC recycling sticker on the back can be collected free of charge if you contact the manufacturer. However, it is clearly stated that you are responsible for erasing the data inside.
If you search on the Internet for disposal of PCs without a PC recycling sticker, you may find various companies. There are many places where you can ask a collection for free, however you should still do it yourself for safe when it comes to erasing data.
・2. When you want to dispose of an external HDD or SSD
So how do you dispose of an external hard drive or SSD that you no longer need? An easy way is to put it out as a non-burnable garbage, however recently some local government may collect small household appliances. So firstly check whether the local government in your place of residence is collecting small household appliances. Also, if you have time, you can sell it at used PC shops and auctions.
Even no matter which method you choose, you must erase the data at your own risk. Recently, there is a software that overwrites all sectors (storage area) of HDDs and SSDs with meaningless data. It may help you. If you are not confident to do it by yourself, ask a professional or PC shop to erase and dispose of your data.
・3. About HDD data erasure
You could retrieve an HDD data even if it is half destroyed sometimes. Even if you make a hole with a drill and destroy platters on an HDD, you may be able to manually restore your data bit by bit by analyzing the debris of the platter using a state-of-the-art residual magnetic search device. In recent HDDs, platters are protected by a sturdy case so that it cannot allow you to make a hole easily. With that in mind, companies that handle large amounts of data and information need to be especially careful about disposing HDDs.
Regarding data erasure products for companies, there are something like “HDD destroyers”. Applying a pressure of 1.5 to 2 tons, it achieves complete physical destruction of an HDD and an SSD in about 10 seconds. Also, some companies offer services that allow you to do it in-store for individuals. You may check these products and services.
・3. Is it possible to reuse HDDs and SSDs?
If an HDD or SSD that is no longer needed is not damaged, you do not need to dispose of it. You can reuse it by yourself. You can use all the capacity of an HDD or SSD once you format them and erase the data. If you remove the one built into the PC, it will become an external HDD that can be connected to USB with a case that is commercially available for thousands of yen.
Since various data is stored in either an HDD or SSD built into a used PC or an external HDD or SSD, it is not recommended to throw it away carelessly. Even if you erase your data on the surface, it may be restored by using special software or technology. Be sure to completely erase your data at your own risk. Or, if you cannot do it by yourself, ask a reliable specialist. Occasionally, you may try to puncture or destroy an HDD or SSD yourself with a hammer or drill, however since this is dangerous and may not lead to complete data erasure, it is not recommended.
For companies that process a large number of HDDs and SSDs in a year, using a device like an HDD destroyer helps you safely destroy them.