FEBRUARY 2016 ;e Costco Connection 21
By Marc Saltzman
Q: I am upgrading my external hard drive to
a larger unit. How should I safely dispose of
the old one?
A: It’s a great time to upgrade your external hard
drive, as the amount of storage is on the rise, yet
prices are dropping. It’s a win-win. But ;rst let’s
cover how to back up your information and then
properly clean the old drive of data so it doesn’t fall
into the wrong hands.
;e ;rst step is to make a copy of the contents
of the drive to your computer’s internal drive,
another external drive or a cloud service, like
OneDrive or Dropbox. Hedge your bets and use
more than one backup solution.
Next, delete the data from the drive you want to
get rid of. Don’t just format the drive when it’s connected to your computer, as information can still be
retrieved by tech-savvy folks. Instead, wipe your
hard drive by using specialized so;ware, such as the
free Active@ KillDisk or So;pedia’s DP Wiper.
Some experts suggest physically destroying the hard
drive—as in safely using a drill or hammer—but a
proper so;ware wipe should do the trick.
Now, to address your specific question, it’s
always better to reuse before you recycle. If a family
member or friend doesn’t want the old drive, consider donating it to a local school, church, library or
community center. If no one wants it, drop it o;
somewhere that will properly recycle or dispose
of it. Go to
click or tap on “What you can do” and ;nd a
location near you (choose your state ;rst).
Q: I purchased a smartphone at the
Costco Wireless Center. When I select
an app to download—including the
Costco app—it prompts me to give
my permission to access a long list of
my phone contents, such as photos,
contact list and more. Is this safe?
A: Be cautious, but app makers need your
permission to access some of your phone’s features and/or info, such as the camera, contacts list,
GPS chip (location-based information) and so on.
Sometimes what they’re asking permission for
seems odd, but they’re covering their bases. For
example, Google wants to know your location for
greater accuracy when you search for a local business, Facebook wants access to your photos so you
can upload pics and Waze may want access to your
contacts if you share your directions with someone.
App makers want to get all of the permissions out of
the way upfront instead of bothering you each and
;at said, if it seems odd, and/or if it’s an app
from a little-known developer, think twice about
allowing access to your information and device.
Stick with only reputable developers, read comments
from users before you download and be sure to have
anti-malware (malicious software) programs
installed on your smartphone. Personally, I use
Symantec’s Norton Security Premium.
Q: I wear hearing aids. Still, I have a terrible
time hearing most TVs. I do use TV Ears I
purchased, but am wondering if there is
something extra I should look for when I buy
my next TV.
A: Consider picking up a sound bar, as they really
do help amplify the sound coming out of your TV.
Televisions are getting super thin, so don’t expect
the speakers to be amazing.
Alternatively, there are comfy wireless headphones to consider, but be sure you buy the right
kind. Most wireless headphones use Bluetooth technology, which are designed more for smartphones,
tablets and laptops. Most wireless headphones that
work with TVs use radio-frequency (RF) technology
instead of Bluetooth. ;ese headphones synchronize
with a small transmitter base that plugs into the
television’s audio output jack (usually included with
Fortunately, wearing headphones does not
prohibit someone else from hearing the TV through
its speakers, if desired.
RF headphones typically have a range of 50 to
150 feet from the base. In most cases, you can control
the volume level on the headphones. C
More in archives
On Costco.com, enter “Connection”;
at Online Edition, search
Tips on hard drives,
apps and TV sound
Have questions about
electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Email them to:
Or mail to:
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to: 425-313-6718.
“Marc Saltzman Q&A”
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
Q: I purc
a leading high-tech
to more than three
on radio and TV, and is
the author of 15 books.
He’s on Twitter at
The Costco Connection
Costco offers a wide variety of electronics in the
warehouses and on Costco.com, including external
hard drives and sound bars. You can also find
anti-malware programs at Costco as well.