You already know that you need to wipe the data from your old computers and laptops before selling or donating them. You probably also know that smartphones and tablets can harbor hidden personal data and put your identity at risk. But what about your printer? You might not think twice when donating an old printer, listing it on Craigslist, or simply tossing it in the trash.
Modern printers can also house personal information — details you may not want to share with the eventual buyer of the device. That is why it is important to evaluate the situation and take steps to protect your data before donating, selling, or otherwise disposing of an old printer.
The good news is that most standalone printers do not store much personal data, and that storage is usually short-term. If your standalone printer does not have a hard drive, all you need to do is unplug the device to clear its memory. You can check the manual that came with the printer or check online to see if the unit includes a hard drive or other internal storage.
Many modern printers can reprint documents, and that means they are storing those documents somewhere. If your printer is one of those, you need to exercise caution before selling it. You also need to be cautious if your printer can store documents in a print queue and print them on demand.
You can still safely sell or donate one of these printers, but there are some important steps to take first. Start by power cycling the printer, then go to the menu and look for stored documents. If the document list is clear, you do not have to do anything further to protect yourself and your data.
If you still see documents stored in the printer, a hard reset is the best way to get rid of them. For most printers, you can simply turn the printer on, then unplug the power cord from the back of the printer and the wall. Wait at least 15 seconds and then plug the printer back in and hit the button to power it up.
The exact procedure for performing a hard reset varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so be sure to reference your manual or the company website for specific instructions. Once the hard reset has been completed, check the printer again to make sure your old documents are truly gone. If they are, you can confidently hand off your printer to its new owner.