Your fleet of workstations have reached the end of their life. How do you determine this? What do you do with them? Should they just sit in a pile forever?

Getting Started

Determining that workstations have reached the end of life is not always an exact science. Typically business workstations reach the end of life when their warranty ends and can no longer be extended. Sometimes, for a year or longer beyond that, the manufacturer may continue to provide firmware and service at a cost for them. It’s not ideal to keep machines in production that are beyond end-of-life for too long. A good rule is to replace them after 5 years of use if they make it that long. Any longer and you risk slowing down users and paying for costly repairs.


You’ve taken computers out of production. Now what?

  • First, ensure any data on them has been transferred elsewhere. You don’t want to toss the data out with the bathwater. 
  • Securely wipe the drives. Some say that one pass is enough, but do three just to be safe. For erasing secure data, a DOD wipe is recommended.
  • Pull the hard drives out. This can be easy, or it can be difficult. You may need to pull the machine apart completely to do this. Definitely get that hard drive out at all costs.
  • Destroy the drive. Sure, you’ve already destroyed the data on the drive. If these machines are going in the trash. Crush that drive! Drill holes in rotating drives to ensure no one can access what’s on there. 
  • Now you have a pile of old computers without hard drive. What do you do with them? Consider donating them to a charity or to staff. There are many recyclers out there that will pick them up for free. Stores like Best Buy and Staples are also happy to receive a few computers for recycling. 
  • Keep them documented. You never know when a question will arise about an old system. Keep track of serial numbers, users, dates, and where they ended up. 


Having a pile of old computers in or out of production can be daunting, but these simple coordinated steps will ensure that the systems are property and securely taken out of production and don’t end up in the trash.

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