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In today’s business environment, having the latest tech tools at your disposal is essential to your company’s success. Whenever you buy or lease new business hardware, though, you’ll be left with old hardware you may no longer need.

Here are a few of the steps your company should take to make hardware disposal easier, safer and more efficient.

Before hardware disposal, consider repurposing

Before you actually start the process of hardware disposal, it’s a good idea to consider repurposing some of your old hardware.

Servers and workstations can often be repurposed for new tasks with only minimal upgrades. Laptops, however, are generally not seen as economical candidates for repurposing.

As a rule, repurposed hardware is best put into auxiliary roles, such as providing extra data storage. You could also reassign it to departments that require less specialized hardware. Be aware that your hardware may need some basic maintenance and repair before being repurposed. You should take that cost into consideration when deciding between repurposing and hardware disposal.

Preparing for hardware disposal

Once you’ve repurposed what you can, it’s time to prepare for the actual process of hardware disposal. Securely destroying or otherwise disposing of hardware requires some forethought.

To prepare your hardware, you need to start with data security. We recommend completely wiping the hard drive of any computer, tablet, smartphone or server you plan to retire. Leaving data on your hardware for possible attackers to find can lead to a major network security data breach. Do what you can to defend yourself before you do any hardware disposal.

For workstations and laptops, you can use special functions built into all Windows and Mac operating systems to erase your data. Decommissioning servers is a bit more complicated. The process will vary depending on the software that is running on your servers.

Removing data from your hardware is critical to ensuring you don’t run into cybersecurity problems down the road. You also need to be sure that any important data has been properly saved for future use.

Be sure that all data from laptops and workstations has been backed up. Also, migrate the data from your old servers to the new servers before the old ones are wiped. Many businesses today choose to migrate their server data to the cloud. If you plan to go this route, it’s important to find a good cloud services provider. Pay attention to fast transfer speeds, security and overall customer service.

Consider donating your old hardware

A great way to handle hardware disposal to donate retired equipment it to a nonprofit organization.

There are some nonprofits that take donated computers and give them to low-income families. Other charitable organizations find themselves in need of computer hardware for basic administrative functions.

If you need to dispose of laptops or workstations, giving them to a worthwhile charity is a great option.

The hardware recycling process

Electronic waste from hardware disposal can be extremely harmful to the environment. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have your old hardware recycled.

E-waste recycling and reclamation centers can be found in every state. These are the best places to take old hard drives, computers and other electronic waste products.

Although most people think of hardware recycling only in terms of old computers, some specialty recycling companies can also recycle servers. Before handing your old hardware over to a recycling center, though, do some research to be sure the company is legitimate. In recent years, reports of recycling scams in which e-waste is ultimately deposited in landfills have become increasingly common.