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This Policy defines the administrative arrangements in place within the Organisation relating to the disposal of end-of-life computers with the objective of preventing the release of confidential or controlled information:


1. The Organisation has a legal and moral duty to keep records confidential. Records falling into the wrong hands may be used for improper purposes. Computers and other electronic storage media allow a very large quantity of information to be easily removed from the Organisation’s control with great ease.

2. Computers and other storage media must have their data effectively erased or rendered unrecoverable before being disposed of.

3. Selecting a file or group of files in Windows and deleting them from the “Recycle Bin” on the desktop DOES NOT remove the physical file or files from the computer’s internal hard drive. These items remain on the drive until the computer over-writes them with new files.

4. A computer which is disposed of after having its files deleted from the Recycle Bin will still retain the files in question which can be recovered with commonly available recovery software.

5. The Organisation has a policy that no computer or data storage equipment will be disposed of until the approved procedure for clearing residual data has been carried out and approved by a manager. This policy applies to computer hard drives, memory sticks, CDs, tape drives, camera memory cards and any other form of electronic or magnetic storage data.


1. Equipment which will NOT be re-used:

1.1 If the equipment is not going to be re-used then the method of disposal must always be physical destruction. This should be done by removing the hard disk-drive from the computer case and drilling through its own case so as to drill through the internal platters which hold the data. This must only be performed by qualified persons with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

1.2 Opening up the drive itself, removing the platters and destroying them, will suffice as an alternative.

1.2 If no qualified or sufficiently knowledgeable staff are available, an external electrician or computer service engineer must be called. Subsequent destruction must always be done on-site in the presence of the manager who should certify each drive as being destroyed. The drive must not be taken off the premises for destruction off-site.

2. Equipment which will be re-used:

Computer equipment which will be used off-site can have its information effectively removed by performing a format on the hard drive. Alternatively, the drive could be removed and destroyed as per section B:1 above and a new drive installed prior to the computer leaving the Organisation.

3. Memory sticks / flash-drives:

All of these types of drive should be re-formatted before being allowed out of the control of the Organisation.

4. CDs:

CDs cannot be re-formatted or over-written. These should therefore be physically destroyed by snapping or shredding.

5. Inoperable drives:

5.1 Computers which suffer faults in their drives rendering them inoperable should NOT be sent for repair, and should NOT be disposed of on the assumption that the drive is “dead” and cannot be read. All of the information is still present on the drive and may be recovered by a person with appropriate specialised technical knowledge. In all cases the drive should be removed and disposed of per clause B:1 of this Policy.

5.2 In all cases the Manager will complete the relevant form relating to the specific machine and the method of data deletion or destruction employed.

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