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When disposing of old computers and tech devices, it is important to have them recycled and processed in a way that follows recommended EPA guidelines. Even seemingly “broken” devices should be securely erased before disposal to ensure that confidential information is not accessible by anyone later. Many devices need to be removed from online service accounts, like iPhones, iPads, and Apple computers. All of this is explained below. Get a techie friend or tech support person to assist if needed.

Computers and Hard Drives

Computers and hard drives should be securely erased if they are going to be recycled or donated. The process when done properly involves several steps. [Learn More]

Before the erasing process, any software licenses should be deactivate so the programs can be used on your other devices.

You should also disconnect the device from any associated services, as described below for Apple iCloud.

Copy Machines

Most people have heard news stories about old discarded copy machines that still have confidential information stored on their internal hard drives. If you have a office-grade business copy machine with a hard drive, be sure to have it properly erased before discarding it.

Disable Apple Account Association

Apple has a “Find My Mac” feature as part of iCloud. This needs to be turned off prior to erasing the computer, and you should also remove the computer from your account using the iCloud website.

  1. Go to and login using your Apple ID.
  2. Click on the My Devices option. You may need to go to Find My iPhone first.
  3. When you click on a device from the All Devices drop-down menu, active devices will have options to erase the device or play an alarm. If you select a device that is Offline, there should be an option to “Remove from Account.”

Removing your device from the account is also a prerequisite to selling a device or having it serviced.


An old printer may contains information about your network and other personal information. It is important to reset such devices back to factory default settings. Any saved Fax Number or Fax Header should be automatically removed in that process.


An old router will contain your old WiFi network name and password. People sometimes use a WiFi password that has been used for other services they have. For this reason, it is important to make sure the device is reset with no remaining personal information in the device.


An old smartphone will likely be filled with account and user data. Before discarding a smartphone, you should securely erase it. With an iPhone, the data is encrypted, but still needs to be erased. When the device is erased during reset, it should not be accessible later.

Before erasing an iPhone, the proper procedure is to remove the device from your Apple iCloud account as described above under the heading “Disable Apple Account Association.”

Smart Watches

A smart watch may contain personal information about your home WiFi network, credit cards, and other information. It is important to disconnect such devices from your accounts, and then reset them to factory default settings.

Other Devices

There are many Internet connected devices that retain information about your network and home if they are not properly reset. Follow the manufacture instructions for securely erasing and disposing of these items.