How to de-clutter your electronic life

Technology devices permeate everyday life, but what do you do with the gear that’s broken, obsolete or simply no longer the love of your electronic life?

Before tossing away any technology devices, it’s important to take steps to protect your digital life. This is especially relevant to any memory-based devices, which will have evidence of your identity stored on them.

So unless you’re prepared to have your data integrity compromised, wipe any memory cards, hard drives and other storage devices before disposing of them. That means not just deleting their contents, but also reformatting the disc or card.

Even then, hardcore geeks say you can’t trust this process, believing that there is always a chance that data can be recovered. If you’re similarly paranoid, store all your hard drives in a box, preferably with a sachet of silica gel inside to help prevent mould build-up.

Make sure you backup and erase your hard drives before you throw old computers out.

If you’re selling or giving away a laptop, make sure to backup all the data first and then wipe the computer clean. Symantec’s Norton Utilities can assist with deleting files, while Acronis Drive Cleaners can help out by wiping the drive completely.

“Remember, simply pressing ‘delete’ does not make a file go away,” said David Hall, Consumer Spokesperson for Symantec Australia. “File recovery programs can still retrieve deleted files unless you take more serious measures.”

Take the same precaution with your smartphone. In the absence of helpful software, we recommend running a factory reset to force the hardware to rewrite over itself. Do this a couple of times, and then do it once more time –just for good measure.