Stump the PC Club is a free tech-advice column written by members of the North Orange County Computer Club, which has been in existence since 1976. Visit the club’s site at noccc.org.
The subject of recycling old printers came up, and we heard or read that Inkjet and or laser jet printers retain information similar to a computer hard drive and the printers should be "cleaned" prior to disposal. True or not true? If true, what is the procedure?
PC CLUB: This is a great question. I can speak for my printer which is a Canon MX870. If I were to recycle my printer, it is possible, depending on my settings, that information regarding my faxes such as a activity reports would still be in the printer. Also, my fax number or other data could be stored. If you know how to use the printer Control Panel, all of this can be purged. It’s best to check with your manufacturer before dumping your printer. Canon’s number is 800-828-4040, they stated that no info regarding your printed documents is retained in the printer but data related to your fax activities could be.
My printer is actually set up to print Activity Reports automatically and they’re not retained in the printer. I also don’t enter personal information using the control panel. This is the safest approach, at least for the MX870.
On recent Canon printers you have to press the Setup button and then look for the Maintenance settings on the printer screen. From there you can check if you have entered any settings that you want to remain private – if so delete them. Next, look for the Activity Reports and if you have them on Manual, you’ll have to print them all out so that they are no longer stored in the printer.
Most of us believe that the only thing you have to worry about when you upgrade your hardware is the information stored on our old hard drive but surprisingly enough, printers can store a little about you also. For information on wiping a hard drive clean see my article at http://edwardns.com/blog/wipe-hard-drive-clean.
I spoke to someone who called a major printer manufacturer and was told that no data is stored on the printer. I checked my wife’s printer from the same company and there is data stored there. Don’t believe everything your told, especially if the support is in a foreign country. If you have a different printer or manufacturer let me know what you find out.
Ed Schwartz is a member of the North Orange County Computer Club. To send in a question, go to edwardns.com and click the Contact Me menu. Archives of previous columns are also on the website.