Old hardware sitting around? Understanding IT asset disposition


IT asset disposition (ITAD) is the disposal of IT hardware in a way that is good for the environment and doesn’t compromise your security. If you have hardware that your RIA firm longer wants because it is outdated or not working for you, your choices are to refurbish it – possibly for resale, sell it, recycle it, or dispose of it. The process applies to all IT assets, from mice, to laptops, servers and smartphones.

Data Destruction

Start by backing up everything on the equipment you are disposing of. Most companies with managed IT services have automatic backups of the devices connected to their network. However, it’s best to check and be sure, especially if this is a mobile device that you’re not sure has been managed as part of your network.

You want to be sure that the equipment you dispose of doesn’t become a security liability. Data destruction isn’t as simple as wiping a device. When done properly, all hard drives and media is destroyed based on the standards set out by the Department of Defense or National Institute of Standards and Technology. There are different ways to destroy data. CSO has a good article that outlines the pros and cons of each.

Recycle or donate

Donating your equipment is a great way to let someone else make use of it. Many different organizations collect old hardware and make them available to worthwhile charities.

Recycling is also a good option and can help keep some environmentally sensitive materials out of the landfill. Different electronic components have different recycling requirements. Check out E-cycling Central to find a depot in your area, or you can check back with the company you purchased from as some offer in-store or event recycling.

Did you know?

  • By recycling one million laptops, we save the equivalent of the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year (Source: EPA)
  • By recycling one million cell phones, we recover 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, 33 pounds of palladium. (Source: EPA)

Next steps – who to engage

It’s unlikely that most small or mid-sized RIA firms want to manage this themselves. This is one of those jobs best left to the experts.

Here in the Chicago area, we often encourage clients to reach out to a company like Ava Recycling. They will manage the data destruction, recycling and disposal process for you. There are similar companies across the United State and you should be able to find one in your area. NAID is the international trade association for companies who provide information destruction services and they have an online directory of their members who can do this kind of work.

When you find someone to work with be sure you can check the following boxes:

  • They offer DOD level data destruction
  • They present you with the transfer of liability paperwork
  • You receive a letter of destruction from them