The start of the New Year is a time for celebration, for reflecting on the past year and making plans for the new. Out with the old, in with the new. If you are a SysAdmin you might be thinking ahead about adding virtual desktops, expanding the capacity of your VMware VMFS, and improving support for mobile devices by installing robust wireless access points with secure access to local files and printers. The year ahead may be quite busy indeed.

electronicsIf your plans involve replacing and upgrading office equipment, what do you do with the old stuff? Stockpile it in the back storage room? Take the machines apart and add to your ever-growing parts hoard? If the storage room is full and your box o’ parts overfloweth, now might be a good time to consider how to properly dispose of that old equipment.

Data Security First

Much of today’s technology contains storage of some type, typically in the form of hard drives, solid state drives or memory chips. Old PCs and laptops certainly contain storage drives, but many other devices do as well. The fax machine might store digital copies of recent documents which could reveal sensitive data. An old phone system may contain voicemail messages, contact numbers and personal details about your staff. Certainly an old PDA, electronic Rolodex or smartphone will contain details that should not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. Not only should you have valid concerns for data security, but it might also be required by law (see Sarbanes-Oxley, FISMA, HIPAA, FACTA and others).

Devices with removable drives are relatively simple to secure. Remove the drive and get rid of the rest. But how do you deal with the drive? Options to consider include:

  • Good – wipe the drive using special software. Suitable if you wish to redeploy the drive in your controlled internal environment.
  • Better – physically destroy the drive by shredding it (recommended for most).
  • Ultimate – degauss, shred and disintegrate to ensure absolute security (NSA spec total destruction).

Recycling and Disposal

Now that sensitive data has been securely destroyed, what do you do with the remainder? Some options to consider include:

  • Drop off old equipment at your local recycling center or participating retailer.
  • Donate to your local school, youth center, Goodwill or non-profit organization.
  • Refurbish, repurpose or resell it.
  • Check with your equipment vendors, some may offer a trade-in or upgrade allowance toward new purchases. You won’t know until you ask!

IT in the New Year

What kind of IT projects do you have planned for the coming year? Are you facing new technology challenges such as support for mobile devices, enforcing stronger security measures or meeting regulatory compliance? Tell us about the challenges and projects you will be working on in the comments below.