So You Bought a New Computer! As outdated computers are replaced with better functioning machines, many of us are left wondering “What am I going to do with my old one?”. Like many, you can let it sit around and collect dust for awhile OR you can take a more proactive approach. In addition to the environmental hazards that need to be considered when disposing of a computer, total erasure of private personal data should be of utmost concern. I’ve listed a few tips below on ways to safely dispose of your computer as well as tips on erasing personal information from your computer components. Tips to Safely Dispose of Computer Components Check your local phone book – there are computer recycling facilities in many cities. Donate it to a local school or charity. Donate it to a nonprofit recycling center. Turn your old computer over to the manufacturer when a new one is purchased. Both Dell and Hewlett Packard will now recycle your old computer for free when you purchase a new one from them. Attempt to sell your computer on eBay or Craigslist.org. Some tech savvy people use extra computers for print servers or e-mail stations. Tips to Remove Private Information from Computer Components Use a secure erase utility; these can be found online for most systems as free utilities. A secure erasure utility not only deletes files, but fills your occupies file space with random or zero data. If you are looking to erase an entire drive prior to disposal, consider a boot-up utility that can clear the entire drive, irrespective of the installed operating system. Another way of totally erasing information from a hard drive is to expose it to a very strong magnetic field, using a device with electromagnets called a degausser. Common household magnets are usually not strong enough to fully erase a hard drive.