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Donate old computers to African pupils

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: December 31, 2012

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GOT a new computer for Christmas?

Well, don't resign your old machine to the rubbish tip – children in Africa can put it to good use.

Rotary clubs in Gloucestershire are seeking to re-home unwanted computers as part of IT Schools For Africa.

Andy Jarrett, of Severn Vale Rotary Club, is taking part in the annual drive for hard drives.

He said: "This is the eighth collection we have done, but it's the first year we are collecting in Stow-on-the-Wold and Cheltenham. We are really pleased that it is spreading out to other places."

Collections will take place on Saturday at Tesco stores in Stroud, Quedgeley, Cheltenham and Stow-on-the-Wold.

Andy said they usually receive around 100 donated computers, but he hopes that this year's effort will be even greater.

The machines will be sent out to Kenya at the end of January.

They will be at Stroud from 11am to noon, Quedgeley from 1.30pm to 2.30pm, Cheltenham from 9.30am to 2.30pm and Stow from 11am to 1.30pm.

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  • tishwash  |  January 02 2013, 6:28PM

    "but formatting a hard drive (not a so-called "quick" format) is a pretty good way of removing data," ........ Feel free to give me a hard drive of yours after it's had a long format and give me an hour. "Data Security We promise to erase completely every hard-drive of every computer donated to us. Rather than just re-formating the hard-disk, we use some specialist software called KillDisk, which is recognised by the US Ministry of Defence. If anyone one would like to come and see how we do this we would be happy to show you." DoD's most basic standard is 7 writes of 0's and 1's (depending upon the data stored, if it's top secret they destroy the disks) and "promises" are nothing people should be told to take their hard drive home by your firm, hard drives are cheap as chips. One of the killdisk quotes is false too "hat can be started using a bootable CD/DVD-ROM or USB Flash Disk. Access to the drive's data is made on the physical level via the BIOS (Basic Input-Output Subsystem), bypassing the operating system's logical drive structure " It's a Windows application, it doesn't bypass the OS, it uses a boot disk with an OS on it to do it...... Here's a link suggesting data may in fact be recoverable, and I'd have to know how killdisk worked if I was to give you an opinion http://tinyurl.com/aoex8ya

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  • ITSchools  |  January 02 2013, 10:34AM

    Hi IT Schools Africa here - we are the charity that will send the computers to Africa. We are grateful for the opportunity to clarify some of the issues raised by posters: Data Security We promise to erase completely every hard-drive of every computer donated to us. Rather than just re-formating the hard-disk, we use some specialist software called KillDisk, which is recognised by the US Ministry of Defence. If anyone one would like to come and see how we do this we would be happy to show you. eWaste Dumping Dumping of electronic waste by unscrupulous dealers in places like Ghana by is a significant issue, however it is a long way from what IT Schools Africa does. Firstly we have minimum standards for the equipment we send - this is why we won't accept anything that is older than 6 years. Secondly, we test and refurbish every item of equipment before we send it to Africa. Thirdly, once the equipment arrives in Africa, we re-test it before it goes to the schools. Any equipment we are unable to use is disposed of to registered recycling companies in the UK. Stones Group Stones Group are one of the largest providers of IT equipment to the public sector and they also operate a re-cycling service. As part of their charity programme, some of the computers they take back for recycling they donate to IT Schools Africa - we then test and refurbish them for Africa. We receive around 1,000 computers per year from Stones. New vs refurbished equipment It is true that the cost of new equipment is getting cheaper all the time and this is something we monitor continuously. Currently, it costs us approximately £100 to get a refurbished computer onto a desk in a school in Africa. The cost of the cheapest new equipment available in Africa is around the £500 mark, this is still unaffordable for most African schools. Relationship with the Isbourne Foundation IT Schools Africa was originally established by a local philanthropist as a subsidiary of the Isbourne Foundation. We now operate as a separate, stand-alone charity Reg. No. 1146157. If anyone has any other queries or would like to come and see what we do, they very welcome to contact me or pop in and see us - we are on the Mead Road Industrial Estate in Cheltenham Tim Barnes Programme Director IT Schools Africa tim@itschoolsafrica.org Tel. 01242 228800

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  • ShireMe  |  January 01 2013, 10:54PM

    Apothegm, there are plenty of good tools like DBAN about but it might be a stretch for the average user to get to grips with. Formatting a hard drive would not be sufficient to prevent data theft and whereas it is unlikely keystrokes could be retrieved (unless the machine had keylogging software installed), most home PCs could have sufficient retrievable personal information for 419 gangs to attempt to spearphish an unlucky donator. Again, for the average home user there would be better peace of mind by removing their HDDs from the machine altogether before they donate.

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  • Apothegm_  |  January 01 2013, 7:37PM

    Interesting article from the BBC website: Ghana bans second-hand fridges. http://tinyurl.com/av2eob7 Final sentence: "Ghana is also a common destination for "e-waste" - used computers and televisions from the West, which often contain toxic material." And @tishwash, I agree with you about "the non-recording of all keystrokes on the hard disk", but formatting a hard drive (not a so-called "quick" format) is a pretty good way of removing data, and programs like DBAN do an excellent job. The ITSA website says that in the UK they "erase the data on every hard-drive".

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  • tishwash  |  January 01 2013, 6:04PM

    @bonkim2003 "reformatting the drives" - This doesn't wipe your data, people need to know this, takes very very little time and you can get nearly everything back. @IsitJimKerr "If you send your old hard drive, it will reveal every single keystroke you have ever made, as it's permanently recorded......how do you think they caught 'p's like Gary Glitter?" - They don't reveal every key stroke, christ..... learn about forensics before you try and be an expert on it.

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  • ShireMe  |  January 01 2013, 5:14PM

    Particularly relevant to businesses - any transfer of work computers containing employee information or customer records may be a problem. Unless the information is properly scrubbed then you could be in breach of UK data protection laws. Home users, if you are in doubt about the level of personal information on your computer, send It without hard drives if you want to donate it. In the long run it will save you time, money and stress.

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  • Soft Data Internet Limited  |  January 01 2013, 1:21PM

    I dont know this company, but My local church does a service to take old pcs at http://tinyurl.com/b7umjes

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  • raidermanuk  |  January 01 2013, 9:41AM

    Bonkim2003 I know nothing of the the "worlds computers to Africa industry" but I cannot accept that that ALL the player are corrupt, dishonest or whatever derogatory term you wish to use. You know nothing about ITSA either so I'm a little surprised about your vociferous total condemnation. Am I being naive or are you possible a little blinkered on this issue? Happy New Year.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  January 01 2013, 5:47AM

    raidermanuk - Thanks understood- they are a subsidiary of the Holistic Centre organisation and taking a cursory look at their accounts will do little - the issues are huge and this has been going on since 2004/5 and huge changes in cheap new computers for the developing world since then. Links with commercial organisations (this is a South African organisation - always suspect).

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  • raidermanuk  |  January 01 2013, 2:10AM

    Bonkim2003 "raidermanuk - are you a member of the Isbourne Holistic centre Cheltenham which owns itschoolsafrica?" Nope - nothing to do with them whatsoever. I would however suggest that you take a look at their accounts as submitted to the Charities Commission if for no other reason than to better understand the operation of ITSA (as described).

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