"Pass IT On For Good" USB card helps repurpose old computers
By Ben Coxworth
April 13, 2013
What should you do with your old computer? Chances are that no one will want to buy it, but you don’t want to just throw it away – especially with e-waste being such a huge environmental concern. Recycling or donating are possibilities, but how do you know that all of your personal information is really deleted from its hard drive? Well, that’s where the Pass IT On For Good project comes in. It supplies you with a USB card that deletes all the personal content on your computer, installs educational software, and then instructs you on how to donate it for use in schools in developing nations.
Pass IT On For Good is a joint non-profit effort of the University of New Hampshire's Research Computing Center, and spin-off software company Obliterase. Here’s how the system works ...
After purchasing and receiving a Pass IT On For Good USB card, you boot up your old computer, hook it up to the internet, plug the card’s flip-out dongle into its USB port, and launch the integrated software. That software then assesses the computer’s specs and condition, to see if they meet the minimum requirements for Pass IT On’s educational partner organization, The World Computer Exchange.
From there, the program lets you know if your machine is up to snuff for donation, or if it should simply be recycled. In either case, the software then proceeds to permanently delete all personal information from the hard drive, using Obliterase’s proprietary technology – as many readers will already know, simply selecting files and deleting them on your desktop does not remove all trace of them from the computer.
If the computer is bound for donation, a new operating system will then be installed. That OS will contain educational content specific to the intended destination of the machine.
Finally, you will be e-mailed a certificate of erasure, along with information on where to take or ship your computer for donation or recycling.
As you repurpose additional computers (friends and family can also use your card), a tally of your educational and positive environmental impact will be updated on the project’s website – keep in mind that donating a computer not only keeps it out of the waste stream, but it also saves the environmental and energy costs of manufacturing a new one. Each card is good for a given number of uses, but can be recharged online.
The organizers of Pass IT On For Good are currently raising funds to get their program up and running, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$25 will get you a Bronze Pass card, good for five uses. Cards with a higher number of uses, at a reduced cost-per-use, are available for larger pledges.
More information is available in the pitch video below.
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