Don’t just throw out your old devices; take measures to protect your personal information.
Before ridding your device, back up everything on it—everything. Use an automated PC service and/or a flash drive. For the iOS and Android, activate Apple’s iCloud or the Google Auto Backup service.
Wiping refers to removing all your data. Simply hitting “delete” or reformatting the hard drive won’t do. I purchased 30 used computers off Craigslist, scoured their hard drives with a forensics expert, and discovered that half of the devices—that had been reformatted—still had personal information.
To wipe Windows PCs, you can use Active KillDisk. For Macs, use the OS X Disk Utility or WipeDrive. “A factory reset should be enough to secure most recent smartphones, provided that you remove any SIM cards that could contain personal info. To be super safe, use Blancco Mobile to wipe the iOS or Android.
If you can’t wipe the device, destroy it if you don’t plan on donating or reselling. For example, I recently recycled a laptop that was missing its power supply, so there was no way to turn it on and wipe the disc. Instead I removed the hard drive with a screwdriver, and then took a sledgehammer to it. (Aside from protecting my personal data, it was also a lot of fun.)
Ask the recycling company just who does the downstream recycling so that your e-waste doesn’t find its way into a foreign landfill. Make sure the company is part of R2 (Responsible Recycling) or e-Stewards certification programs.
Make sure you document donations with a receipt so that the IRS can give you a little return.