One of the most fraught issues in the disposal of e-waste is proper handling of the sensitive material contained on old hard drives. It’s understandable, since the deliberate or inadvertent release of steamy chat logs, passwords or bank records contained therein could be deeply embarrassing or financially devastating.
Unfortunately, hard drives are not easily erased. A cottage industry has emerged during the past two decades specializing in recovering lost data. Just formatting a disc can still leave most or all of the information recoverable.
NPR tackles this conundrum as part of its All Tech Considered series. The piece points out the great lengths to which some folks will go to ensure their data goes to the grave:
Jon Armstrong knows how to reformat the old Macintosh computers, but he isn't as familiar with PCs. He is going to try removing the hard drives before recycling, but if he can't he might try more extreme measures.
"I will drill into the drive and just wreak havoc with my drill bit," he says. "Just get a big old drill bit and brrrrrrr, go in and destroy the drive inside the computer."
Professional e-waste recycling outfits have devised more elegant solutions to the problem, but there is still the matter of convincing clients that drives will be properly handled.
If your firm handles e-waste, how do you reassure your customers that their hard drives will be handled appropriately?