When the digital world takes over your basement

I don’t know about you, but my wife nags me about getting the eWaste out of our basement. So one day last week I finally decided to venture down to the dungeon, err basement, to see what all the fuss was about. I’ll never admit it to her but boy is she right – I have accumulated a lot of eWaste over the decades!

eWaste (no, that “e” in front of the word waste isn’t a typo!) is short for “electronic waste” and refers to computers, printers, TVs, VCRs (remember those?) and other electronic devices and gadgets that have surpassed their useful lives. Disposing of old computers is not as simple as taking them to the curb for regular city garbage collection. But most importantly, before disposing of an old computer or other electronic device that you have used to store information, it is imperative to make sure the information is not retrievable by anyone else.

Did you file tax returns using your old computer? Have you typed sensitive documents or communicated privileged information using your old computer? Even if you think you don’t have personal information on it, before dropping it off at your city’s computer roundup locations, you are better off ensuring that information on your computer is not retrievable. Without going into technical details, data deleted through the operating system is easy to retrieve. An analogy is this: many of us have been using shredders to turn sensitive documents into paper confetti because anyone can go through your garbage.

There are at least two ways to erase your computer. The first way is for readers comfortable with rolling up their sleeves for some geek-time! Download data erasure software such as “DBAN” (a free version is available from www.dban.org) and follow their instructions to run it on the old computer you are getting rid of. Remember that software such as DBAN will completely erase the information and claims that it is not reversible – I repeat, it is NOT retrievable – so first make sure you have backups of any files or information that you do not want to lose forever.  

The second method is to simply remove the hard drive, the part inside a computer that is roughly the size of a short paperback and responsible for storing information. Yes, this method still means that you will keep the hard drive in your basement but it is only fraction of the size of your computer and will easily fit in a shoebox.

Westlake and Bay Village both offer regular recycling events for disposal of old computers. The city of Westlake offers a Computer Roundup twice a year, in spring and fall. The next one is scheduled for Aug. 11-16 at the Service Center, 741 Bassett Road. For more information and times of operations, visit the Service Department page on the city’s website at www.cityofwestlake.org or call 440-835-6432. The city of Bay Village designated the last Friday of each month as their monthly computer drop-off day. Items may be brought to the Service Garage, 31300 Naigle Road, during business hours. The next drop-off day is July 25. For more information on accepted items and times of operations, visit the Service Department page on the city’s website at cityofbayvillage.com or call 440-871-1221.

Now to make my wife happy I need to haul my old computers and printers out of the basement!



I'm still having a hard time getting acclimated to the new Windows. Any advice?

A number of people are missing the Start button, and the menu that shows up after hitting the Start button, from earlier versions of Windows. “Classic Shell” from www.classicshell.net or “Start Menu 8” from www.iobit.com/iobitstartmenu8.php (both free for personal use) replicate the old Start menu. I haven’t used either personally but my wife is using Classic Shell quite successfully.

Have a question for Tak about computers, software or other technology? Send it to editor@wbvobserver.com.

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart consulting, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 6, Issue 14, Posted 10:05 AM, 07.08.2014