Disposing of electronic devices properly can help keep you – and your data – secure

Electronic devices have a limited lifespan. With new options being released all the time, you’re left with a pile of electronics that you seldom ever go back to using. Many major electronics retailers offer programs where you can donate your used items for others or have them recycled for working parts.

Before you give your items to any type of recycling or disposal service, there are several precautions you can take to ensure your personal data has been properly removed.

Prior to donating or recycling your old cell phone, make sure that service for that device has been turned off. Manually clear the phone’s memory of any information stored on it, including contacts, emails, photos, notes, etc. Once you delete all information available, follow your cell phone carrier’s official instructions for how to conduct a factory hard reset and ask them best practices for removing or destroying the device’s SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card.

For computers, make sure that you back up your data, remove the hard drive and if necessary, dispose it. Take your device to a computer repair shop to have a professional properly wipe it.

Once you’re certain all your sensitive data has been removed, check your local community for official programs that will accept your used electronics.