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star_pilot475

Some companies I work for have PCs laying around...

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Hello everyone! 

 

So for my work, I do some cleaning jobs (janitorial work, stuff like that). There are a few businesses that I clean that have PCs that they are obviously not using just laying about all over the place. Normally I try to mind my own business when going in and out cleaning these places, but I REALLY REALLY want to ask them if I could have their old PCs that they don’t want. What do you guys think would be the best way of going about this?


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Just ask them. I built a business from doing that. The worst they can say is no.

 

Tell them you will destroy the data on the hard drices so they dont have to worry about data leaks as well.

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Just now, CUDAcores89 said:

Just ask them. I built a business from doing that. The worst they can say is no.

 

Tell them you will destroy the data on the hard drices so they dont have to worry about data leaks as well.

No company I have ever known would trust a random 3rd party to destroy their data like that.  

 

Ask the receptionist or IT person.   We have a process for ours but some may be open to some form of recycling with you.


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Maybe those computers are just laying around until they get more staffs?
Or they are for Spare Parts usage?
 

In any case, maybe just ask whoever is in charge of IT what they are doing with those and if they'd be willing to part with them. Either for free or for a fee.


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As others said, just ask the IT guy


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Posted · Original PosterOP

Ok, thanks for the replies guys, I’ll try your suggestions. Other thing I thought about was maybe seeing if I could ask them for this systems but tell them they can keep the hard drive so they don’t have a potential data leak. 


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Main Rig: 

AMD Athlon II X4 650 at 3.1GHz [4 cores, 4 threads] 

Foxconn Alvorix RS-880-uATX

MSI Radeon R9 380 Gaming 4G

2x4GB Generic 1600MHz DDR3

Seagate Firecuda 2TB 

Seagate Barracuda 1TB

Seagate Barracuda 320GB

Corsair CX500 (move along...)

HP Pavilion Case

Windows 10 Home

32 Inch Samsung TV 1080P 60Hz

Spoiler

Laptop #1

HP G56

Celeron 900 at 2.2GHz

Intel 4500MHD 

2x2GB Generic 800MHz DDR2

120GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD

Spoiler

REALLY Old (and unusable) Laptop

Intel Pentium M at a whopping 1.93GHz🔥

1x2GB Generic 800MHz DDR2

Nvidia GeForce GO 128 something or other

40GB 5400RPM IDE drive

Spoiler

Mobile Devices:

iPad Air 2 64GB Space Grey [running iPadOS 13]

 

iPhone SE 16GB (oof) [running iOS 13]

 

 

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58 minutes ago, star_pilot475 said:

Ok, thanks for the replies guys, I’ll try your suggestions. Other thing I thought about was maybe seeing if I could ask them for this systems but tell them they can keep the hard drive so they don’t have a potential data leak. 

if you do get to take them, get them to draw up a contract or some other legal document confirming that THEY have taken the correct precautionary measures to ensure that no company information is left on those computers, because if a leak occurs, regardless of the source, someone is going to turn around and say "well star_pilot475 took a couple of computers that we weren't using any more, it must have been them"

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2 hours ago, SpiralTTGL said:

an IT person would never let a harddrive with potential information go

Then pull the hard drives right in front of their eyes and leave the hard drives with them.

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12 hours ago, jstudrawa said:

No company I have ever known would trust a random 3rd party to destroy their data like that...

 

12 hours ago, SpiralTTGL said:

an IT person would never let a harddrive with potential information go

Yet it has been known to happen, including by some larger companies. Look at NCIX.


Jeannie

 

As long as anyone is oppressed, no one will be safe and free.

One has to be proactive, not reactive, to ensure the safety of one's data so backup your data! And RAID is NOT a backup!

 

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Ask but don't expect much from a major company.  They have contracts with Dell for example where Dell comes in and swaps out every few generations (my current employer) - the extras are just that, assets not in use in that same trading program.  Sometimes PCs get left behind (we have a closet with a bunch of C2D SFF machines but they keep these for just in case situations).  

 

My company has also given me non working machines before, but that was my boss like - here we were going to toss this - and so I have taken them but destroy the HDDs because my boss is awesome and don't want anything coming back on her.


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Many businesses have to follow a prescribed disposal procedure because of depreciation and tax write-off rules.  Mostly business PCs are low end performers with limited or no expandability and should be sent straight to the recycle pile.  I used to love salvaging old PCs and parts, but it's too depressing for me as my 8yo i5 still blows them away.  I hauled seven of these to the recycler yesterday out of my dad's basement with no regret.

 

As for hard drives, drill a hole through the platters, shattering them and guaranteeing data destruction, and put a cheap SSD in there instead.  That will make daily use of these low end machines bearable.  Destroying HDs in this way is well advised since they are pretty much worthless anyway.

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15 hours ago, star_pilot475 said:

Hello everyone! 

 

So for my work, I do some cleaning jobs (janitorial work, stuff like that). There are a few businesses that I clean that have PCs that they are obviously not using just laying about all over the place. Normally I try to mind my own business when going in and out cleaning these places, but I REALLY REALLY want to ask them if I could have their old PCs that they don’t want. What do you guys think would be the best way of going about this?

Ask the IT person, or ask the site administrator (that's not the IT person, that's the person who is responsible for ordering/signing off on supplies/contracts with outside companies like the one you work for.)

 

The place I work for, really would not miss 20 5-year old laptops going missing (one employee even joking referred to doing this on purpose) but you need assurance that the laptops have been wiped before leaving the property.

 

If you're not sure if a machine has been wiped, it doesn't leave. The quickest way to ensure that a laptop can be disposed off is to eject the hard drive and optical drive (to make sure there's no disc in it) and leave the drive behind. The company can then dispose of the drives themselves.

 

For laptops that are hard to open or have SSD's, you can also go into the bios of DELL and HP machines and select "secure erase" But this feature is only present in newer machines. You can also use a DART (Windows Recovery) stick to secure wipe a non-SSD drive. For SSD's, you actively render a drive inoperable if you use secure erase methods on them since it will destroy 4 write cycles of every block on the drive, when there is a method to trigger an all-block erase that only destroys one write cycle.

 

But SSD's are also easier to "secure" destroy because if you can remove them from the machine, you can just toss them the paper-shredder (ones that aren't in metal housings.)

 

And if we're being really really honest, if the machines are actually destined to be recycled/destroyed, they wouldn't miss them anyway, but since they are in some inventory list, someone needs to say the machine has been recycled/destroyed, otherwise it will come back on an audit. I went through such a list with the site administrator and most of the stuff was "I don't know where this is" because a lot of it was 10 and 15 year old equipment from like one company move/merger ago.

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13 hours ago, Arika S said:

if you do get to take them, get them to draw up a contract or some other legal document confirming that THEY have taken the correct precautionary measures to ensure that no company information is left on those computers, because if a leak occurs, regardless of the source, someone is going to turn around and say "well star_pilot475 took a couple of computers that we weren't using any more, it must have been them"

DO THIS.  Just in case some time latter someone tries to come back and say you took them illegally.  

I once saw an old Indigo ^2 IMPACT sitting unused in a storage room  I wish I had asked for it.  Just to have one for nostalgia purposes would be awesome. 

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3 hours ago, Kisai said:

...But SSD's are also easier to "secure" destroy because if you can remove them from the machine, you can just toss them the paper-shredder (ones that aren't in metal housings.)...

There is no need to physically destroy an SSD to get rid of the data. Just secure erase it (not wipe it by writing 1s and 0s to it) using the proper software.


Jeannie

 

As long as anyone is oppressed, no one will be safe and free.

One has to be proactive, not reactive, to ensure the safety of one's data so backup your data! And RAID is NOT a backup!

 

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12 hours ago, Lady Fitzgerald said:

There is no need to physically destroy an SSD to get rid of the data. Just secure erase it (not wipe it by writing 1s and 0s to it) using the proper software.

That's what I said immediately above the paragraph you quoted.

 

If it came down to "guarantee me the data is destroyed," paper shredder will do it. Later model Dell and HP machines have secure wipe right in the BIOS, so if you can power it up once, you can do it in front of the person who needs to verify it's been wiped.

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2 hours ago, Kisai said:

That's what I said immediately above the paragraph you quoted.

 

If it came down to "guarantee me the data is destroyed," paper shredder will do it. Later model Dell and HP machines have secure wipe right in the BIOS, so if you can power it up once, you can do it in front of the person who needs to verify it's been wiped.

You specified secure erase as using four cycles of overwriting data. That is NOT the "secure erase" that should be used on SSDs. Most SSD manufacturer's tool kit software includes the proper secure erase function that works quickly and does not add to the total writes on the SSD (it uses a voltage spike to reset the cells to an uninitialized state, same as a brand new SSD). In place of manufacturer software, you can also use Parted Magic.


Jeannie

 

As long as anyone is oppressed, no one will be safe and free.

One has to be proactive, not reactive, to ensure the safety of one's data so backup your data! And RAID is NOT a backup!

 

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well I got a bunch of sockett 755 pentiums from my dads work when they moved and all he neaded me to do is overwrite the drive.


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5 hours ago, Lady Fitzgerald said:

You specified secure erase as using four cycles of overwriting data. That is NOT the "secure erase" that should be used on SSDs. Most SSD manufacturer's tool kit software includes the proper secure erase function that works quickly and does not add to the total writes on the SSD (it uses a voltage spike to reset the cells to an uninitialized state, same as a brand new SSD). In place of manufacturer software, you can also use Parted Magic.

You're just repeating back what I already said.

 

That does not turn a SSD into a brand new drive, the voltage spike blows one erase cycle rather than the four-pass a DOD secure erase would do. The way NAND memory works is different from magnetic memory and you can not recover data from NAND that has been erased due to how TRIM works. NAND memory wears out, and nothing you do will restore it to factory-new conditions. 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
30 minutes ago, Kisai said:

You're just repeating back what I already said.

It doesn’t matter, no need to argue, most of the systems won’t have SSDs anyway, they’re all too old. 


Spoiler

Main Rig: 

AMD Athlon II X4 650 at 3.1GHz [4 cores, 4 threads] 

Foxconn Alvorix RS-880-uATX

MSI Radeon R9 380 Gaming 4G

2x4GB Generic 1600MHz DDR3

Seagate Firecuda 2TB 

Seagate Barracuda 1TB

Seagate Barracuda 320GB

Corsair CX500 (move along...)

HP Pavilion Case

Windows 10 Home

32 Inch Samsung TV 1080P 60Hz

Spoiler

Laptop #1

HP G56

Celeron 900 at 2.2GHz

Intel 4500MHD 

2x2GB Generic 800MHz DDR2

120GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD

Spoiler

REALLY Old (and unusable) Laptop

Intel Pentium M at a whopping 1.93GHz🔥

1x2GB Generic 800MHz DDR2

Nvidia GeForce GO 128 something or other

40GB 5400RPM IDE drive

Spoiler

Mobile Devices:

iPad Air 2 64GB Space Grey [running iPadOS 13]

 

iPhone SE 16GB (oof) [running iOS 13]

 

 

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3 hours ago, Kisai said:

You're just repeating back what I already said.

 

That does not turn a SSD into a brand new drive, the voltage spike blows one erase cycle rather than the four-pass a DOD secure erase would do. The way NAND memory works is different from magnetic memory and you can not recover data from NAND that has been erased due to how TRIM works. NAND memory wears out, and nothing you do will restore it to factory-new conditions. 

There must be a language barrier between us.


Jeannie

 

As long as anyone is oppressed, no one will be safe and free.

One has to be proactive, not reactive, to ensure the safety of one's data so backup your data! And RAID is NOT a backup!

 

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ASK the IT department, and  ASK the people that deal with budgets, site administrators etc.  If not whole computers, ask if you could have some parts.

 

DON'T TAKE.  It's theft, you could lose your job.

 

What you may see as an old machine may have cost thousands of dollars or may have some specialized SCSI cards or software which costs oodles of money so they may not throw it out for these reasons.

 

Some companies have inventories and send components and computers to be recycled or thrown out a few times every year and only then taken off inventories and considered no value. Even if they seem they don't use them, they may have to be written off before really being of no value.

 

The IT guys may not be able to help you, because it may not be up to them, but they or the finance dept. people may tell you something like "come back on last Friday of the Month and look in the back near the garbage" where they keep the computers as they wait for recycling company to come pick them up.

 

The company may have a policy of not giving computers away due to hard drives potentially having confidential data so recycling is obligatory - in that case ask the IT staff it they'd be willing to let you open up and take out ram sticks or processors, anything except hard drives... stuff that won't be visible from outside the case.

 

edit: and I agree, overall you're better off just leaving the hard drives with the company. It's not worth the stress and potential problems.

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