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How to safely donate your old laptop, smartphone and other tech gadgets


If you’ve gotten a new smartphone or other tech gadget, you might have a question: What to do with your old device?

Here’s one possible answer: Donate it.

Donating your old smartphone, laptop, or tablet is a way to help a person or organization in need. Plus, it might make you feel good. We’ve highlighted a few organisations you might consider.*

It’s also a good idea to make sure you donate your old device safely. That means protecting your personal information by saving your data and removing it from your device.

Here’s what to do to get ready to donate your device.

What should I do before donating my device?

You probably keep a lot of personal data on your various devices. When it’s time to donate, don’t forget to electronically ‘wipe’ those devices to remove that private data. Doing so is a type of cybersecurity that is often overlooked.

Identity thieves could use the sensitive data stored on your device for assorted frauds. Don’t make it easy for them. Before you give away that old device, consider taking these steps to help to ensure you aren’t also giving away any personal information.

  1. Back it up. Be sure to back up your documents, photos, and other important information or transfer this data to your new device to ensure you won’t lose it. To complete a data backup you can make a copy in a physical location, such as on an external hard drive or thumb drive. Or you can make a copy that is stored in the online “cloud” in a secure location.
  2. Erase it. Once you’ve backed up the data you want to save, make sure you’ve deleted everything on your old device. This includes your download folder, photos, and the search history on your internet browser. You should clear your browsing history, cookies and site data, and cached files and images. It’s a good idea not to leave anything behind that might give someone access to your personal information.
  3. Don’t forget about your apps. Delete all of your apps. This includes deleting app cache and data.
  4. Wipe your hard drive. Deleting files from your device doesn’t mean they’ve been completely erased. Remember to completely wipe your hard drive as well.
  5. Do a factory reset. Follow the device manufacturer’s instructions and do a factory reset, which should eliminate anything left on your device.

5 nonprofits where you can donate old devices

You’ve erased all of your information from your old device. Now it’s time to decide what to do with it.

Donating your old devices to people and charities that need them is a smart idea. You might have a favorite charity in mind. There are plenty of possibilities. The following nonprofit organizations* might be good places to start.

Sanctuary Australia Foundation

The Sanctuary Computer Donations Program has provided 150 recycled computers to former refugees in the Coffs Harbour area and welcome donations of computers from all over Australia. The computers are used to help families connect with government services online, to assist school students with their homework and help job seekers look for opportunities.

Computerbank Victoria

Computerbank Victoria is committed to making computing accessible to those less fortunate in society. This volunteer organisation has been operating for 20 years and has seen over 10,000 systems reused.

PC’s for Kids

PC’s for Kids is a self-funded charity. The organisation rebuilds donated computers and distributes them to children who have disabilities. Where equipment cannot be refurbished, it is dismantled and recycled.

Asylum Seekers Centre

Located in Sydney NSW, the Asylum Seekers Centre provides practical and personal support for people within the community who are seeking asylum. They welcome donations of second hand laptops, tablets and phones and redistributed devices to families who have no access to computer equipment.

ITShare

Based in South Australia, ITShare accepts donations of hardware from businesses, institutions and individuals and refurbishes machines to be distributed to low income communities and families.

These five nonprofits represent organisations that are pursuing a variety of missions. But don’t stop there. Think about the charitable agencies that are closest to your heart. There are so many out there. Find the right one where you can make a contribution that’s meaningful for you.

* The inclusion of organizations, websites, or links does not imply endorsement or support of any organization, material, product, and/or provider listed herein.

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