When S.S. asked recently about disposing of a hard drive so that its data couldn't be retrieved, I didn't imagine the number of emails I'd get.
I suggested seeking out an e-Steward, a recycler certified by the Basel Action Network as a greener recycler of electronics. I also talked about how large businesses use the expensive process of degaussing — erasing a disk via strong magnetic fields. I even suggested sledgehammering the disk and its platter into pieces.
I quickly heard from several recyclers suggesting other alternatives if you don't have access to an e-Steward facility (find them at ban.org degaussers and sledgehammers.
•The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries certifies responsible recyclers. You can find them at http://www.certifiedelectronicsrecycler.com.
•One such recycler is USM-e, whose representative Hugh King told me that unless you shatter the platters inside a hard drive, "The only two ways to destroy data on a hard drive are either shredding the drive (shredding not only reduces the drive to minute bits, but also de-magnetizes the drive—erasing the data) or degaussing the drive which also demagnetizes."
More recyclers are setting up shop because they realize our old gadgets have to go somewhere after they die. Thanks to everyone who wrote in.
Meanwhile, a reader had this to say about a previous column:
"I read your article regarding Kodak Photo CDs. I'd like to offer another solution for converting the PCD files to other formats (at least for Mac users). I have long used an application called "Graphic Converter" to handle all sorts of graphic file conversions. It's available at http://www.lemkesoft.com. I checked the listing of file conversions, and it does include PCD, as well as other Kodak formats.
By the way, I find your last name interesting, as I grew up in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by the name of Gwinn."
Thanks for the tip. I'm passing this along to readers.
Didn't know about Gwinn, Mich., but since I have a vacation coming up, I just might drive up there and check it out!
Have a question about your computer, cellphone, camera or any gadget? Let us know! E-mail Eric Gwinn at email@example.com, and you could be featured in an upcoming Gadget Q&A column.