The Benefits of Computer Recycling in Canada

Computer recycling has become a fact of life in the modern world. Nearly half of the currently existing home computers were bought within the last two years, usually to replace an older model. When coupled with the growing importance of preserving scarce landfill space and reducing the community’s environmental footprint, it is plain that it is more important than ever to recycle old computers rather than simply throw them away. Fortunately, Canada has a growing number of ways to easily recycle old computers.

Company Recycling Programs

A growing number of companies offer recycling programs for individuals who have purchased their computer or other electronic device. In most cases, this requires that the purchaser paid an environmental recycling fee at the time of purchase, although some manufacturers will allow their products to be recycled for free. Individuals who are seeking further information on this should check their manufacturer’s website or if they purchased their computer from a local retailer, they can check with the manager to see if they qualify for a company recycling program.

Local and Provincial Recycling Programs

Many local and provincial governments have established recycling programs to allow individuals to drop off used computers and other electronic equipment. For example, the Alberta Recycling Management Authority established an electronics-recycling program in 2004, which currently has over 325 collection centers that the public can use for a small fee. Other provincial and local government recycling authorities function in a similar manner. Individuals seeking information on this can check their municipal or provincial government’s website for information about any local recycling programs.

Non-Profit Recycling Agencies

There are a number of private agencies that hold events to gather and recycle electronic items. In some cases, these groups may have a presence on Facebook or other social media sites, allowing an individual to sign up in order to be alerted when a local collection event takes places. These events are usually free to use and contribute any recycling profits to schools and other non-profit organizations.

Donating a Computer to a Charity

Finally, many recycling opportunities may not involve the destruction of the computer. Schools and other non-profit organizations often accept computers for use by their students and other patrons. This requires that the computer be in operating condition and not all models will be accepted for use. In many cases, these groups will use Facebook or other social media sites to announce what type of computers or computer components they are looking for. In addition, some of these groups will also accept non-functional computers for conventional recycling.

Preparing the Computer for Recycling

An owner interested in computer recycling should take several steps when preparing his or her computers for disposal. The owner should remove all sensitive personal and financial information from the computer’s hard drives before it is recycled. This is especially important if the computer is to be donated in working condition. Finally, the owner should include all cables and connectors that came with his or her computer.

Recycling a computer is an excellent way to protect the environment and help reduce the cost of future electronic items. Because of this, recycling services in Canada are certain to continue to become more common in the future.

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Keeping Your Computer Work Station Functional

Whether you are someone who takes a company laptop home with you or you have your own computer work station for your small business, it is worth your time and your trouble to consider how you are going to keep it working efficiently. Computers are systems like any other, and if you do not put in the required maintenance, they are going to degrade over time. Check out these tips to keep your systems in working order.

Update
Remember that your firewall and your anti-virus are only as good the most recent update. It is fairly simple set these programs to update automatically, so make sure that that is the setting that you choose. On the other hand, Windows updates can be a little more problematic. In many cases, the updates have been a little buggy, so consider waiting until you get the all clear from other people online before you go ahead and update your Windows. Keep your Windows updates set to manual.

Periodic Purges
Routinely take the time to go through your computer and to remove programs that you no longer need. Uninstall devices and programs that you are never going to need to run again. When you do so, you free up more processing power for your machine. Think about this like periodically going through and cleaning your desk. The less junk that is on your desk and on your computer, the more room you have to do what you want.

Skip Odd Emails
If you are someone who is deeply invested in keeping your computer free of viruses, be very wary of odd emails. While there are plenty of sneakier ways to pass viruses around, the truth is that email transmission is still one of the serious ones. Take a moment to consider any email that seems like it is worded oddly or that it is not in keeping with the person who is sending it to you. Chances are good that there is a virus on it, so make sure that you consider deleting these emails unread.

Choose a Spyware Program
Spyware is not a virus, and it is not caught by your average anti-virus. Instead, it is merely a piece of code that attaches to your computer and tracks your movements for a third party. Not only is this invasive, these programs take up processing speed, making your computer run much more slowly. Spyware is irritating to deal with, and periodic sweeps with a spyware scanner will help you remove these irritating programs from your life.

Compressed Air
If you want to maintain your computer’s physical hardware, remember that compressed air can help. Compressed air allows you to get the crumbs and debris out of your keyboard, and it also prevents this debris from being ground up in your computer’s tower.

If you are invested in making sure that your computer continues working well, there are a number of fantastic tips to keep in mind. Your computer is often directly tied to your productivity, so take a few moments to really learn what you need to do.

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Ten Essential Computer Security Tips

The average computer holds many precious files such as pictures, important text documents, bank information, passwords and more. Losing these files could severely impact our lives, so it’s important that every computer user practices good computer security. To help protect your computer and every file that it holds, it’s a good idea to follow these key computer security tips.

Use Proper Security Software

Every computer is vulnerable to some form of virus. In order to protect your computer from malicious programs, you should install a reliable anti-virus and anti-malware program.

In order to protect your passwords and confidential documents, you should install an anti-spyware program.

Finally, you should have a good firewall protecting your computer from unwanted connections.

Run Regular Scans

Having these programs only helps so much. Malicious programs can still sneak onto your computer even if you have reliable security software. In order to keep your computer as secure as possible, run regular scans with all of your security software.

Password Safety

Passwords are the locks on the doors to our personal information. It’s important to ensure that these passwords are difficult to guess and easy to remember.

Add numbers and special characters to the password to add an extra layer of security.

Do not use the same password over and over. If someone does figure out your password, this means that they can also gain access to any other place that you use that password.

Throwing Out Your Computer? Destroy the Hard Drive

Hard drive destruction is the only way to ensure that people can’t grab your hard drive from the garbage and get your personal documents from it. Even if you believe that you’ve deleted all of the information, there are still various ways to recover the information. Hard drive destruction can be achieved by smashing the drive, subjecting the drive to a strong magnetic field, dismantling the drive and scattering the pieces or by purposely destroying the drive with viruses.

Don’t Open Strange Emails

Emails can contain malicious programs that latch onto your computer when opened. If you don’t recognize an email address or the subject seems strange, delete it.

Don’t Click on Strange Links

The Internet is full of links to fun, interesting and useful websites. However, many of these links go to sites that may download malicious programs onto your computer. Avoid clicking any link that looks suspicious or seems to redirect to another site. If you really want to see the website, copy and paste the link into a search engine to see if it has been reported as being unsafe.

Backup Your Files

Backup the files on your computer to a CD, external hard drive or other backup device to ensure that your files will still be safe in the event of accidental deletion or viruses. Regularly update your backup if you regularly change or update files.

Disconnect from the Internet

If you don’t currently need to use the Internet, disconnect from it. This will help prevent unwanted connections and virus downloads.

Beware of Wireless Connections

An insecure wireless Internet connection can be hijacked by people also using wireless devices nearby. If they’re on your Internet connection, it’s possible that they could access private material. Secure your wireless Internet with a password, and regularly check your wireless connection log to see if other IP addresses have been using your Internet connection.

Public Computers and Internet

Public computers and Internet connections allow you to catch up on work and entertain yourself when you’re out in public. However, you should remember that you’re not the only person who uses the public computers and Internet. Hundreds of other people use the same computers and Internet on a daily basis. To ensure that any sensitive information is safe, avoid using public computers for banking, credit cards or other financial purposes. Avoid going on personal profiles or social media websites.

If you need to use these, ensure that you cover your tracks. Delete the Internet history and cookies when you are finished. For added security, you can also change the passwords on those accounts when you get to a private computer.

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Data Security is Serious Business

Data security is a crucial concern for businesses with the rise of hacking incidents and technological developments that make it easier to gain access to servers, databases and secure file storage systems. With paper files, a data destruction company would be tasked with shredding, disposing and properly accounting for disposed files. These tasks are still essential in today’s business environment, but the scope of data security has expanded to cover all angles of records management, storage and disposition.

Data Collection

Limit collection of sensitive information from clients and business partners. When you are given access to identifying information such as Social Security numbers, birthdates and account numbers, securing this information becomes your responsibility. As such, limit collection of personal information only to those that your company actually needs to do business.

Access to Sensitive Information

Restrict personnel access to sensitive information by establishing a chain of command where only authorized personnel can retrieve data and only for a specific purpose and time period. Access can be monitored through digital or standard sign-in sheets.

Data-rich digital files and all classified information should be password-protected. In addition, access to these files should be limited to pre-cleared personnel as needed. Software programs should be in place to track access, limit file transfers and restrict printing and copying of classified information.

When it comes to password technologies, recent developments have expanded the ways in which access to sensitive data can be controlled. Touch screen interface now allows for graphic passwords that will need knowledge of pre-selected swipes to unlock files or grant access to application software. High-value data calls for more stringent measures including fingerprint scanners, retina readers, facial recognition and voice recognition technologies.

Distribution of Information

Transfer of digital files should require encryption software. File transfers should only be made through secure channels and behind firewalls.

Printouts of sensitive data should be circulated on an as-needed basis and only to personnel who need to know the information. Hard copies should be secured behind lock-and-key and destroyed when no longer needed. The use of portable storage devices such as USB drives and other external devices to store and transfer sensitive data should be subject to security monitoring.

Monitor software and all applications that are downloaded and used on company-owned equipment including cell phones, tablets and computers.

Data Disposal

Businesses should have a program in place that engages a data destruction company to shred paper files that no longer need to be archived. The program should include management, wiping and destruction of drives and portable storage devices.

Audit data management programs as needed to determine weak links and loopholes that may expose sensitive information to hackers and unauthorized users.

Personnel

Often, the weakest link in an otherwise well-planned data security program will be the personnel behind it. Ensure that individuals who are given access to sensitive information have been properly vetted. Occasional background checks should be conducted during the course of their employment and this requirement should be spelled out as part of pre-employment screening.

When a security breach exposes a company’s vulnerabilities, it will affect business reputation and viability in terms of loss of credibility and potential business. Effective data security needs to cover all aspects of data management.

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Five Great Reasons to Recycle Electronics

Computers become obsolete quickly, and you will probably have to replace it after just a few years. When you go out and pick up the replacement, you will be left wondering what to do with the old one. You may decide to give it to a family member or donate it to a local charity, but what do you do when it’s time to dispose of the electronics permanently? Whether you have an old tablet with a cracked screen or a computer with a defective hard drive, it’s better to recycle the electronics than to toss them in the trash. Here are five great reasons to recycle your personal electronics.

Heavy Metals are Bad for the Environment
Heavy metals leach out of materials and can enter the ground water. The EPA in the United States did a study and determined that 70 percent of the heavy metals in landfills were from old electronics. Ironically, electronics only accounted for two percent of the trash in those landfills. Electronics are filled with heavy metals because they are excellent conductors, so keeping them out of the landfills will reduce the amount of heavy metals entering the ground.

Conserve Resources
The same metals that are contaminating ground water supplies are highly recyclable. They can be reclaimed, melted down and used in new electronics. In addition to the metal, the glass screen and plastic housings can also be recycled and reused. This eases the strain on the environment and preserves precious resources.

More Jobs are Created
When more people start to recycle, more jobs will naturally be created. More than 90 percent of electronic equipment can be recycled, but somebody needs to collect the materials, transport them and see that they are ready for use in new equipment.

Support your Favorite Charity
You may not know how to recycle that old computer, but your favorite charity might. Several non-profit agencies like school and charities are collecting old electronics and selling them to recyclers. They only make a small amount on each item, but it starts to add up as they send more electronics in for recycling. Consider donating your electronics to help support your favorite cause. If you aren’t sure who collects electronics, then ask friends on social media sites if they are aware of any local charities.

It’s Easy
There are several great reasons to invest in computer recycling, but the best one may be that it’s easy. Once you locate an agency that will accept your old laptop or that desktop that finally stopped working, all you have to do is drop it off. They will handle the rest. Before recycling your electronics, take the time to wipe the hard drive to protect any personal information.

The next time you buy a new computer or smartphone, think twice before dropping your old one in the trash. Someone you know may be able to use that item, or you can send it in to be recycled. Keeping your electronics out of the landfill is better for the earth because it keeps heavy metals out of the groundwater. It’s good for local charities who sell the electronics to recyclers, and you will help create jobs in your area.

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