Earth Week: How to shred a hard drive

by Anne Rivas, LiveGreen | April 24, 2014

I've often thought that computer forensics would be a fun job -- the thrill of finding hidden information without the mess of a crime scene. We all know by now that computer files don't actually go away when we delete them. What goes away is the link that helps us call the information back when we want it. That information stays on the hard drive.

Consequently, deleting all of the files on your home computer when you discard it or pass it on doesn't really get rid of them. I don't know how to get them back, but I know that other people do. I don't want to risk my personal information, but I also don't need my old computer sitting around collecting dust and taking up space in my house.

When I heard about the secure shredding and electronics recycling event today -- from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the UNMC Grounds Building, 4650 Jones St. -- I wondered, how do you shred a hard drive? I know my little shredder at home gags on more than two sheets of paper, so that's out. Datashield will be providing the destruction services at this event, so I went to their website. They have a video, but since the shredding part is embedded in a speech by the company president, I found a similar video here.

Impressive. No one will get anything out of those hard drives.

So what gets recycled in e-recycling? Just about everything. After the information storage piece of the item is physically destroyed, the rest of the item is disassembled and the parts are sorted using conveyor belts, screens, and magnets for recycling or disposal according to guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

By the way, paper is also shredded at this event, so this is a good time to bring your old bills, files, and the bank records that are older than dirt and get rid of them securely, and for good. Here is a website that can help you determine what to get rid of and what to keep. Needless to say, you never want to discard anything in your household trash that contains personal, medical or financial information.

And that old non-HD TV? Clock radio? VCR? Bring them, too. And if you have any old eyeglasses, we'll pass them on to somebody in need.

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