How Should you Dispose of Servers?

With technology rapidly changing, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to dispose of servers. But how do you dispose of an old server?

A server allows you to connect multiple devices to the same network. Typically found in corporate environments, they let the company’s IT manager monitor how individuals use the system. Servers also allow data to be shared across multiple devices; for example, you can share files easily to a colleague, or work on projects simultaneously. Because servers contain lots of private and confidential information, you can’t just toss it in the bin out the back - you need a proper server disposal process in place. The most important factor when disposing of an old server is preventing data breaches, and from any private or confidential information falling into the wrong hands. For example, a server may contain your company’s financial records or confidential customer details.

The drive for more storage capacity, improved software and faster speeds means that old servers needing to be disposed of it just a fact of life. Servers tend to last anywhere from around 4 to 8 years, but as mentioned previously, with new technologies, a server may have a much shorter lifespan. You can look at swapping out drives before you get rid of the full server, as capacity and speed improve, and 8 years is a long time in storage technology terms.

Servers are designed to store data, but also to simplify the sharing of that data within a network. Therefore, when disposing of servers, it’s important to consider what kind of information is stored on the drive. Cybercriminals – or even competitors – will frequent skips outside offices, looking for improperly disposed of servers. Your server could have all kinds of data still stored on there, such as intellectual property or customer data, which could be used to steal ideas in terms of project development and headhunt your existing customers. In order to prevent this, you need to properly delete the data stored within the server, or destroy the drives – we would recommend both. We’ve written a number of articles on how to securely destroy data.

As well as the business case, there are also legal implications. If your business handles personal or confidential information, you have a legal duty under the Data Protection Act (2018) to prevent the unlawful obtainment of this information. In order to meet these legal requirements, your organisation will need to dispose of the data securely. If you really want to re-sell the server – which we would advise against – then a secure file deletion tool will suffice. However, we would recommend physically destroying the hard drives. That way, you can ensure that no data will ever get into the wrong hands.

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