How do I safely dispose of electronics?

Here are some tips for disposing of your old personal computers, gaming platforms, and smart phones.
Note: These steps are NOT to be used for your CTS issued devices. CTS has an enterprise level plan to safely remove data and recycle our equipment.

When you get rid of sensitive paper documents, it’s a good idea to shred or burn them to help protect your privacy and prevent identity theft. Similarly, it’s important to erase your personal information from computers (desktop, laptop, or tablet) and other devices (smartphone, gaming console) before you dispose of them.

Choose the best option for removing your data
Simply reformatting a disk or reinstalling the operating system does not guarantee the old data is unreadable. For your PC, here two options for data removal:
Option A – Use a certified refurbisher: For Windows/Linux machines, locate a Microsoft Refurbisher that will safeguard your data stored on hard disk files by using secure data destruction standards. For an Apple PC, use the Apple Recycling Program.
Option B – Do it yourself: Wipe your hard drive by using specialized software that is designed to government standards and will overwrite your information (Active@ KillDisk and Softpedia DP Wiper are free downloads). Then find a list of Microsoft-sponsored recycling opportunities in your area.

Removing personal information from a smartphone or gaming console
Again, the recommended approach for removing high risk data from smartphones and gaming consoles is to use a certified refurbisher. For low risk data, see details below.

For Windows Phones: Follow these four steps or contact your service provider for instructions.

  • Tap Start and flick left to the App list.
  • Tap Settings and then tap About.
  • At the bottom of the screen, tap Reset your phone.
  • To confirm the reset, tap Yes.

For Xbox consoles: Copy your games, movies, and other files onto a new device and then wipe the old one. Learn how to copy, move, or delete files from your Xbox and then reformat the hard drive.


What about my Android?
What about my Apple iPhone?
What about my Apple iPad?
What about my Wii?
Microsoft Safety & Security Center