The Risks of SSDs (and How to Keep Your Data Safe)

When exploring your options for data storage, you may find yourself tempted by the exciting new technology of flash memory, and it’s no wonder. Solid-state drives (SSDs) are the new craze, and as the technology develops and prices drop, more and more individuals and companies alike are turning their backs on traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) and making the switch. But what makes SSDs so special? 

Unlike your typical HDD, an SSD contains no moving parts—no spinning platters, no read-and-write heads—and does not use magnetic storage. While an HDD is susceptible to external factors such as loud noises, pressure changes, movement, and magnets, SSDs are more resistant, making them an ideal choice for protecting valuable data from damage or loss. 

However, the advantages to SSDs can become challenges when it comes to data disposal. While methods such as wiping, degaussing, and shredding are effective on HDDs, an SSD requires special attention. If you or your business chooses SSDs for data storage, it is necessary to find an ITAD company that can guarantee their methods meet legal standards for data destruction. Not every company can, and that is where EPC comes in. 

EPC offers multiple erasure and destruction methods specifically designed with SSD destruction in mind. If you’re looking to reuse or sell your drives, our erasure software ensures all data is wiped from the drive and is truly unrecoverable. If you’re looking to destroy your drives, our SSD shredder is built to shred them to the legal minimum particle size standard, a feat not possible with typical industrial HDD shredders. 

Scared to ship your drives off-site? EPC can come to you. All data destruction services can be done at your own facility, meaning none of your data is left vulnerable during shipping or transfer. No matter what your needs are, you can rest easy knowing EPC will keep your data secure. 

Watch our SSD shredder in action below! 

How to Remove a Google Account (FRP) from an Android

We’ve already discussed how to remove an account and its data from an iPhone. But what about an Android? If you plan on selling, trading in, donating, or recycling your Android phone, you’ll want to make sure your Google account is no longer synced to the device. Luckily, this is very simple.

1. Locate the Settings App on your device, whether through the Home Screen, App Drawer, or Notification Menu.

2. In the Settings App, navigate to the “Accounts” (LG) or “Cloud and accounts” (Samsung) tab. The name and location of this tab will be slightly different depending on the manufacturer of your phone or tablet. Typically, on an LG phone this tab will be under the General section, while on most Samsung devices you will scroll down from the main section.

3. Click on the account that you wish to remove.

4. Tap the menu icon in the top right corner.

5. Select “Remove account”.

6. You will then be asked if you wish to remove the selected account, after confirming this is the correct account, tap “Remove”.

Once you’ve completed these steps, your Google account and all its data will be wiped from the phone.

Why We Charge For Recycling

If you have a broken TV or monitor taking up space in your garage, you’re not alone. Many of us, for one reason or another, find ourselves burdened with these devices when they meet their end. You can’t sell them, and you can’t put them in the trash—you’ve read about the e-waste problem and don’t want to contribute to it. So, what do you do?

Hopefully, you decide to take it to an electronics recycling facility, where they can extract the raw materials and repurpose them. However, when you come to a place like EPC, you might be shocked to find that dropping off your TV or monitor comes with a price tag. Why? Most drop-off items free, so why this cost money? Doesn’t the recycling company make money from recycling? Shouldn’t they pay you?

Unfortunately, recycling electronic equipment isn’t that simple. While someone might be able to make a quick buck collecting old soda cans, processing e-scrap requires far more work, with little profit for the company.

When your CRT or LCD screen is processed, it must be manually de-manufactured to remove universal waste—toxic substances such as lead and mercury which must be processed separately. One 17” CRT monitor can contain around six pounds of lead. While these substances aren’t a danger to you or your family when the device is in use, improper disposal can lead to harmful chemicals leeching into the environment. Manual labor, running and maintaining recycling machinery, and outsourcing the de-manufacturing of certain devices such as LCDs and printers are costs that add up.

You may still be wondering why it’s worth it to pay for proper disposal. After all, aren’t there other recycling companies that still take these items for free?

It’s true, some electronics recycling facilities claim to offer “no-cost” services and will take your devices free of charge. However, these companies don’t always handle end-of-life assets properly. Recently, dozens of defendants were named in a lawsuit against recycling companies that contributed to a massive CRT glass stockpile in Columbus, OH. Cleanup costs have been estimated at $18.2 million dollars, and forty-one electronics recyclers may be held financially responsible.

Our recycling prices ensure that each item is processed correctly without putting ourselves, our customers, or the environment at risk. Don’t worry, most of the items we accept are still free to drop off. Here is a complete list of what we accept free of charge:

  • Servers
  • Desktop PCs
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Speaker Components and Accessories
  • Video and Photo Equipment
  • DVRs
  • Cable and Satellite Receivers
  • Digital and Film Cameras
  • Audio Equipment
  • Personal Printers
  • Scanners
  • Fax Machines
  • Gaming Consoles
  • Cell Phones and Batteries
  • Phones and Accessories
  • Small Electronic Appliances
  • All Cables and Power Cords
  • Small Household Electric Devices
  • Rechargeable Batteries

For devices with a drop-off fee, we have updated our prices as a result of the rising costs of recycling hazardous materials:

  • Screens up to 32″ and microwaves are $20 per item
  • Screens above 32″ are $40 per item

EPC has a limit of up to four items per drop-off and reserves the right to refuse any items at any time.

We hope this clears up questions you may have about our recycling practices, and that you continue to make the effort to recycle responsibly. If you have any questions, or you need to recycle in bulk, please call (636)443-1999 for more information.

EPC – Recycling Practices You Can Trust

In December, we published a blog post titled “Combating the Recycling Crisis.” In this post, we outlined the obstacles the US recycling industry currently faces, and what people can do to help lower the amount of waste headed to landfills. EPC would like to expand upon the last of these tips listed in that post:

Look for companies with trustworthy recycling processes. EPC has a strict no-landfill policy for its e-waste. When you take your electronics and appliances to EPC, you can be confident that your e-waste will be responsibly recycled and processed for reuse. 

If you have questions, you’re not alone. You may be wondering, “How can EPC make a promise like that?” or, “Can I really trust that none of my assets will end up in a landfill?” It’s important to ask these questions of any business promising environmentally sound practices. That’s why EPC wants to make things clear.

First, we should acknowledge that “e-waste” is a bit of a misnomer. The word “e-waste” implies that what we collect will become waste, which is not the case. The correct terminology is “e-scrap,” because what we collect is demanufactured and broken down into commodities such as steel, aluminum, and plastic. The materials we recover during the recycling process are suited to make housings for many types of electronics and are therefore in high demand. Spotters ensure no contamination enters the stream, and the result is a pure product we sell to various manufacturers to create new devices. Our no-landfill policy remains strict and firm.

Our word may not be enough for you—and it shouldn’t be. That’s why we have the certifications to prove it. EPC is proud to be certified to e-Stewards and ISO 14001 standards. These certifications deal with e-scrap processing and environmental protection. EPC undergoes frequent auditing to ensure compliance with these standards and continually raise the bar for our recycling practices.

Although the recycling industry continues to struggle, we are committed to maintaining and improving our efforts to keep toxic e-waste from contaminating the environment. For more information about e-Stewards, ISO 14001, or EPC’s recycling practices, visit the links below.

https://www.epcusa.com/certifications/

http://e-stewards.org/

https://www.iso.org/iso-14001-environmental-management.html

Tokyo Turns E-Waste Into Gold

As the 2020 Summer Olympics draw near, Tokyo is preparing to host the games for the first time since 1964. The Japanese capital has a long road ahead as construction continues on the New National Stadium, and they prepare to welcome millions of visitors to the city. One of the many responsibilities of the Olympic host country is to provide winning athletes with their gold, silver and bronze medals. While the metals used to manufacture these in the past have come from a variety of sources, Japan has turned to an unconventional source: e-waste. 

Nearly ninety percent of Japanese municipalities have participated in collection programs that began in April of 2017. During this two-year campaign, those living in Japan have dropped off used cell phones and other small electronic devices at certain sites. These have been collected and dismantled for precious metals, which are extracted and refined to manufacture the five thousand medals required for the Olympic games. Nearly fifty thousand tons of small electronics have been collected across the country, including approximately 5.07 million used mobile phones. In February, the program met its goals of thirty kilograms of gold, 4100 kilograms of silver, and 2700 kilograms of copper (gold medals are made from silver and only plated in gold). The program will end on March 31st, 2019.

This is the first time the awards will be made entirely from recycled materials; but one must wonder, why hasn’t this been done before? Japan’s initiative sheds light on the potential “gold mine” that exists within the millions of tons of e-waste disposed of each year worldwide. Phones, laptops, gaming consoles, and other electronics containing precious metals in their circuitry sit in landfills like a vein waiting to be struck, yet few companies take advantage of this resource. While one phone may contain only trace amounts of gold, Japan has proven that those traces add up.

The Japanese public’s enthusiasm for the initiative is not only due to the environmental benefits. Many people have expressed feelings of pride over donating their phones. The metals that once sat in their pockets will hang from the necks of the best athletes in the world. This brings a sense of public inclusion previous Olympics have lacked. In some way, every medal awarded is a win for Japan, regardless of their rank in an event.

Tokyo’s Olympics are also promoting sustainability in other ways. Recently, Japan’s Olympic team announced that it will wear uniforms made from recycled athletic textiles. Many of Japan’s top athletes have donated their old clothes for this endeavor. Both campaigns will cut costs for an expensive Olympics with a price tag once estimated at $30 billion. 

EPC appreciates Japan’s efforts to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly Olympic games. As a company dedicated to responsible e-waste reuse and recycling, we hope this sets a precedent and encourages other nations to find more innovative ways to utilize their old devices. Perhaps Beijing could create a similar campaign for the 2022 Winter Olympics, or Paris will step up in 2024. Maybe we, the USA, can follow Japan’s example when Los Angeles hosts in 2028 for the first time in forty-four years. But whether or not our current devices are future Olympic medals, we can start looking at e-waste differently much sooner than that.

For more information about Tokyo’s e-waste recycling program, visit the link below:

https://tokyo2020.org/en/games/medals/project/

EPC Opens New Atlanta Facility

In January of this year, EPC officially opened their newest facility in Atlanta, GA, offering all EPC equipment disposition services to the region. At 65,000 square feet, the Atlanta facility is the largest EPC equipment processing facility outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area.

EPC’s presence in the Southeast began in 2008 when it opened its Columbia, South Carolina facility, which has been servicing businesses throughout the region ever since. With our new presence in Atlanta, we hope to expand that service and meet the region’s rising demand for equipment disposition. “More companies are seeing the value of professional IT asset disposition services like ours,” said Dan Fuller, president and founder of EPC. “The reality is that most businesses don’t want to pay to have antiquated equipment shipped very far. Therefore, it makes good business sense to continue to expand our geographic footprint in the United States and globally.”

Our St. Louis-based company was founded in 1984 and operates across the United States in six other locations: St. Charles, MO; Kansas City, MO; Las Vegas, NV; Houston, TX; Allentown, PA; and Wright City, MO. The company serves as an international leader in recycling and proper environmental handling of used IT equipment. EPC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CSI Leasing, Inc., the largest independent IT leasing company in the country. EPC’s services include the sale of new and used computer systems and parts, repairs and upgrades, networking design, and IT asset management. EPC is committed to a zero-landfill policy and zero export of unprocessed equipment overseas and has signed the Basel Action Network Pledge of Responsible E-Waste Stewardship as a certified e-Steward. For more information and a complete summary of the services provided, contact EPC at (636)443-1999 or visit epcusa.com.

1100 West Lake Parkway, Suite 175, Atlanta, GA 30336

Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better When It Comes to Computer Monitors

by Tony Lovasco

It’s not uncommon for shoppers looking to upgrade their monitor to seek out the biggest display they can afford.  This temptation is unsurprising – when one shops for a television, the physical size of the display is typically the most important decision – why would it be any different for a computer monitor?  To answer that question, we must examine how a typical digital display renders content.

If you were to look closely at a modern flat-panel LCD screen, you’d discover that the images shown are made up of an enormous number of tiny colored rectangles.  These boxes—called pixels, or sub-pixels depending on how narrow you focus—are arranged in much the same way as the holes in a screen door.  Each pixel renders a very small part of the image, and when viewed at a distance your brain blends them together to create the illusion of a continuous picture.  The number and arrangement of these pixels is denoted as a measurement called “resolution”.

Resolution is expressed in the form of a ratio – the number of horizontal pixels by the number of vertical ones in the grid.  In the world of televisions, there are only a handful of common resolutions (for example, 1920×1080 is the resolution for TVs advertised as being 1080p). But in the world of PC monitors and laptop displays, there are dozens of different common resolutions, even when comparing two displays of exact same physical size.

A higher resolution display of the same size will naturally appear to be sharper and more refined than a lower resolution one, by virtue of the fact that your eye is able to more easily blend together a higher number of smaller pixels.  But equally as important is how much content will fit on screen. If the content occupies a fixed number of pixels, a higher resolution monitor will be able to display more on screen at any given time than the same physical size display with a lower resolution.

It’s important to remember that a larger physical display does not always have a higher resolution than a smaller display.  While resolution often increases with the physical size of the panel, some larger monitors are sold with lower resolutions in order to meet a budget price point.  The result is that you might buy an “upgraded” monitor, only to discover that you can’t fit any more on the screen than with the smaller one.

Due to the variety of different screen resolutions and the labor involved, many vendors don’t advertise detailed specifications of the monitors they sell, and instead only provide basic details such as the size and model number.  In those cases it’s always best to check out the monitor manufacturer’s website, where you should be able to find complete resolution information to make comparison shopping easier.

How to Remove your Personal Data from your iPhone

Every year, there are tons of functional Apple Devices that become “iCloud Locked”, meaning that they were signed in with an Apple ID, but never signed out. The reasons for iCloud locking was to protect user data, and to dissuade would-be thieves from stealing your phone. This is an excellent security feature of iOS, however it does come with a significant downside. The result is millions of unusable iPhones and iPads, that end up in drawers, sold for parts, and in landfills. This is a guide to removing that iCloud lock when you’re ready to move to a new phone!

  1. Turn your iPhone on and open the settings app.

2. Scroll down and click on the “General” tab.

3. Next, locate and click the “Reset” tab. Depending on what version of iOS your phone is on, this will either be the last tab or the second-to-last tab.

4. From here, we want to click the second option “Erase All Content and Settings”. Now you will be prompted to either “Backup Then Erase”, which you should do if you haven’t already, or “Erase Now”.

5. Lastly, your iPhone will ask you for your Apple ID password twice. This is to verify that it is you erasing the phone, and that you are sure you want to. If you don’t remember your password, it can be reset here: iforgot.apple.com

What do you do if you no longer have the phone? Not to worry, there’s a solution for that as well!

  1. On your computer or phone, open your favorite browser and navigate to icloud.com

2. Now you will need to sign in with your Apple ID. After doing so, you will be greeted with two rows of icons. Locate and click on “Find iPhone” on the bottom row.

3. At the top of the screen in the middle, there is a drop-down menu labeled “All Devices”. Click on that, then click on the device you are wanting to remove from your account.

4. Select the device you wish to remove from your account.

5. Tap “Erase iPhone” or “Erase iPad”, and a request will be sent to that device. Within 24 hours all your data will be erased.

That’s it!

In just 5 simple steps, you can clear all your personal data from your old phone and have it ready for its next life!

Combating the Recycling Crisis

The recycling market is in a crisis.

In January of 2018, China enacted its new recycling imports policy, essentially putting an end to decades-long United States recycling practices. China, which previously imported a whopping forty-five percent of the world’s plastic waste for recycling, now refuses to accept any imports which are not 99.5% pure. This is due to the growing environmental concerns associated with processing these contaminated plastics. Now, countries which relied on China for plastic recycling have been forced to seek alternatives. The bulk of the responsibility has fallen on other Asian countries unequipped to carry the burden China has left behind. The US, often unable to meet the 99.5% purity requirement, sends many recycled goods to the landfills. Recycling is no longer the lucrative business it once was. Instead, recycling companies lose money.

Part of the US’s crisis has to do with “single-stream” recycling. Years ago, in order to recycle, households were forced to separate recyclable goods by type: glass, plastic, metal, and paper. This method of curbside recycling made it easier for recycling companies to process pure batches of recyclable materials; however, this was much more tedious for the average household, and public participation in recycling was low. But when the US introduced single-stream recycling in the 1990s, participation greatly increased. “Single-stream” refers to the now-common practice of placing all recyclable goods into the same bin for collection. Rather than placing the responsibility on the consumer, it is now the recycling plant’s job to separate and process recyclable materials.

While single-stream recycling’s convenience made recycling more accessible to the public, it has created a challenge for the industry. Processing all recyclable goods in one bin increases the risk of contaminants, which can weaken batches of recycled plastic and render it unusable. Many uninformed consumers also place non-recyclable materials in their recycling bins, posing many problems for recycling machines. Garden hoses and soft plastics such as plastic bags are among the most common offenders, both of which can become tangled in machinery and endanger workers. Recycling plants now struggle to process pure batches of plastic that can be refined and reused, and the criteria of China’s new policy is almost impossible to achieve. Even if your home maintains good recycling practices, your efforts may be for naught.

As awareness of this problem grows, many have become discouraged.

How can we be sure our recycling is being processed properly? What is the point of recycling if our waste may end up in a landfill anyway?

The first and most important step is education. To avoid contamination, educate yourself on what can and cannot go in your recycling bin. This varies by county, so please pay attention to your local recycling and waste management practices. Pay attention to the numbers on your plastics, and be aware of which numbers your local recycling collectors can take. Avoid “wishful” or “aspirational recycling”–if you aren’t sure whether something can be recycled, don’t put it in your recycling bin. Educate your friends and family on these rules, and encourage them to be aware of their local regulations. The more people practice good recycling habits, the fewer contaminants end up in recycling machines.

When you can, reduce and reuse first. Remember, “recycle” is the third part of the triangle. While it can be hard to avoid things like single-use plastic packaging, look for ways to reduce the amount of waste your household produces, and reuse what you can. Bring reusable shopping bags to the grocery store. Use reusable water bottles instead of buying disposable plastic.

Be aware of your resources. While plastic bags don’t belong in your curbside bin, they are recyclable. I f you have the common plastic bag full of plastic bags you have no idea what to do with somewhere in your kitchen, look for special bins at your local grocery store to deposit your soft plastics. Instead of throwing old light bulbs away (which is not only wasteful, but also may pose a chemical hazard), find out if your recycling center takes light bulbs, and what kinds of light bulbs they take. While these solutions may require an extra trip, they help keep curbside recycling pure and allow you peace of mind.

Look for companies with trustworthy recycling processes. EPC has a strict no-landfill policy for its e-waste. When you take your electronics and appliances to EPC, you can be confident that your e-waste will be responsibly recycled and processed for reuse. Visit our website at https://www.epcusa.com/services/itad/asset-disposition/#recycling for more information about our recycling process.

The problems facing the recycling industry are large, and it may be tempting to give up and dump everything in the trash. But you can take responsible steps to help recycling companies process your waste.

More information on the recycling crisis, and what you can do to help:

National Geographic: Plastic Recycling Is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It.

New York Times: 6 Things You’re Recycling Wrong

What Is the Number One App to Install Onto Your Phone?

There really is an app for that.

From social media, to games, to apps that can track your sleep cycle, both the App Store and Google Play Store have just about everything you may need or want in your day-to-day life. The small rectangles in our pockets can carry an extraordinary amount of data, and various applications help us navigate that data in a way that no other generation has been able to do.

But out of the hundreds—no, thousands—of apps on these stores, which is the best? What is the number one most valuable app to have installed on your device?

In my opinion, it’s Google Photos.

Why do I think Google Photos is better than the rest? What makes this simplistic picture app the most important?

Not enough people take advantage of the amazing features Google Photos has to offer, even when it comes pre-installed on some new devices. Here are the reasons I think everyone should have this app installed on their phone, and what makes it so great to use:

  • Google Photos can back up all photos at a high resolution (up to 16MP) at no cost to you.
  • It can back up all videos at up to 1080p resolution.
  • The amounts of pictures and videos Google Photos can back up at this quality is unlimited, which means you don’t have to pay for any additional storage.  
  • Google Photos is available on both Android and iOS, so you can access your pictures on any of your devices.
  • This app will automatically start to back up your pictures and video as soon as you connect it to Wi-fi. or you can set it up to back them up on the go as you take them. For this, you will have to go into Settings > Back up and sync > turn on Use Cellular Data (I would only recommend this for people with unlimited data, as it may end up costing quite a bit, depending on how many photos you take)

To take advantage of these features,when you use the app, make sure your “upload size” setting in your app is set to“High Quality.” If you want to retain a higher resolution and size, you can select “Original Quality,” but your photos will count against the 15GB of free storage that Google Drive allows. Once your 15GB is full, you will have to start paying for extra storage, or delete some of your photos to make room for new ones. And who wants to scroll through a year’s worth of cute dog photos to choose which ones to ax?

To use this application, you must also have a Gmail account. That way, Google can tie your photos on all your devices to you, giving you access to them on any device you sign in on.

Google Photos is a valuable tool for the casual cell phone photographer. With this app, you don’t have to choose between saving your vacation pictures and freeing up your storage. The Google Photos app gives any smartphone user, iPhone or Android, a way to save those memories without stressing about running out of space. The days of desperately mass-deleting old photos can end.