My laptop recently died. I've got a replacement, and I've already pulled both hard drives out of the old one and ensured that there's no disc in the DVD drive. As far as I know, that should constitute all of the sensitive data that could possibly be gleaned from my system. Is it now safe to hand the remains over to a computer recycling outfit that, for all I know, might have one or more malicious actors working as employees, or is there anything else I need to be aware of first?

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    If you want to be really sure, pull out the RAM as well. – Jeroen Jun 10 '15 at 17:55
  • Some laptops have SIM card slot too. I don't know what model is your laptop! – ρss Jun 10 '15 at 18:23
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    While you should never reuse passwords, if you had any passwords set in the BIOS, I would be extra careful not to reuse those passwords. I doubt that they are easily obtainable, but who knows if the BIOS/motherboard manufacturer did something dumb. – Neil Smithline Jun 10 '15 at 18:24
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    What is the purpose of pulling out the RAM? It doesn't store anything when powered down. If anything, I'd be more concerned about the display burn-in (joking) – Dmitry Grigoryev Jun 10 '15 at 19:19
  • Remove the motherboard too and save it your cellar. Once you have collected a ton of electronic garbage, you can sell it. That ton contains about 30 grams of gold and several kg of copper (amongst other metal). – ott-- Jun 10 '15 at 20:10

If you have removed the hard drive and checked that no removable media was left in it, then none of your data can be found on it. (They will be able to see your BIOS settings, but that isn't considered sensitive data for a dead laptop.)

By the way, if you have an SD slot, make sure you check that too.

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  • Good call on the SD card slot. It has one, but I've never used it. – Mason Wheeler Jun 10 '15 at 18:00

Unless you work for a 3 letter agency or something similar your risk profile is very low. However if you are removing the RAM, resetting the BIOS, and removing any storage should prevent just about any data access.

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    I guess if the OP was working for a 3 letter agency, he wouldn't as such kind of stuff here. :P – ρss Jun 10 '15 at 21:14
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    Haha you never know, could be the IRS ;) – Karmic Jun 12 '15 at 0:23

If you're truly paranoid, you need to remove (rather than clean) all non-volatile memory, as it can mask data from the OS. This includes any solid-state memory(SD/flash), system "rom" in EEPROMS, NVRAM/PRAM and any device that might have non-volatile slack space memory.

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