In 2022, an employee at a leading electronics recycler reported that computers that had been received and slated to be destroyed were accidentally resold on the second-hand marketplace.

An investigation found that a 3rd party had unrestricted access to the warehouse. That 3rd party would choose the assets they wanted to buy “without regard to client instructions for destruction or re-use”. During the audit, a refurbished laptop was purchased back and it was determined that the original owner had contracted the recycler not to resell the asset.

This recycler had government departments and publicly funded entities as clients. It is not known if any of the erroneously sold equipment came from a government department.

While this situation is alarming, the truth is, it happens more than most people know. The only time these situations come to light is when it’s reported, but how often are computers resold with pre-existing data still present and it’s never reported?

How does this happen?

Any recycler who offers the option of reselling or destroying your devices can make the same error. Unless equipment to be destroyed is kept in a physically different location, it’s easy to inadvertently sell a computer to a reseller without removing or wiping the hard drive.

Additionally, wiping a hard drive is also prone to errors. Any computer, laptop, tablet, copier, scanner, or printer that has a hard drive could potentially be resold with sensitive information on it if the wiping was ineffective.

What is the safest option?

The safest option is using a recycler that doesn’t refurbish or resell your equipment at all. Additionally, shredding a hard drive or solid-state drive is the ONLY way to ensure that your data is unrecoverable. The reason why most recyclers are not shredding your hard drives is because they want to resell your devices and it’s not as valuable if there is no hard drive present. If your vender claims that they wipe your hard drives, ask them why they don’t shred them instead.

Back Thru the Future shreds EVERY hard drive we receive. We will never wipe your hard drives and we will never sell your computers. This guarantees that once we receive your devices, your data will be destroyed.