What is ITAD?

September 20, 2021

7 min

What is IT Asset Disposition (ITAD)?

ITAD is the practice of properly decommissioning and disposing of hardware and electronic devices. It's critical for ensuring your company’s data is protected.

CDW Expert CDW Expert
What's Inside

What is IT Asset Disposition (ITAD)?

IT Asset Disposition (usually referred to as “ITAD”) is the practice of properly decommissioning and disposing of hardware and electronic devices. While it may seem like disposing of outdated IT equipment is as simple as sending it off to Goodwill or dropping it in the nearest recycling bin, ITAD is critical for ensuring your company’s data is protected and that your end-of-life equipment doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

ITAD has two main phases when it comes time to decommission your hardware: First, the equipment must be wiped and have all asset tags removed. This ensures that your proprietary data cannot be leaked, and that the electronic devices can no longer be tied back to your organization. Then, the equipment must either be destroyed, recycled, or donated. 

How Does ITAD Fit into IT Lifecycle Management?

While it may be tempting to think of ITAD as an afterthought, it’s actually a core part of IT lifecycle management. ITAD is a key part of managing IT assets and ensuring that you’re making the most of your technology investments. Because ITAD can provide a holistic view into which of your devices may be nearing or at the end of their useful lives, it can also help you contain costs and know when it’s time to decommission and upgrade.

Similarly, ITAD is critical for keeping your organization’s information safe and mitigating cybersecurity risks. If you choose to use proper ITAD services to dispose of the hardware you no longer need, the ITAD partner will ensure that your assets are thoroughly wiped.  At the beginning of the lifecycle, devices may be tagged, barcoded, or tracked in some other way so your organization can keep tabs on them. ITAD effectively reverses this process. ITAD involves removing all assets tags from your business’s decommissioned electronic devices to make sure that they become unlabeled hardware. It also involves destroying all the information inside of it. For larger pieces of hardware, this may involve puncturing and entirely degaussing the devices. Essentially, when you use ITAD services to properly dispose of your old equipment, the process ensures that it cannot be traced back to your organization in any way. It involves permanent destruction of the data. In fact, depending on the hardware in question, ITAD services partners like CDW can also issue official certificates of destruction.

Ultimately, you can think of ITAD as the final phase in IT lifecycle management. Lifecycle management begins with hardware that’s tagged, marked, serialized, and prepared for your organization. With ITAD, the hardware is entirely wiped and decommissioned so it’s no longer connected to your business at all.  

What Devices Are Involved in ITAD?

If you can plug it in or charge it, that electronic device likely can be recycled through ITAD. ITAD often involves common endpoint devices, such as cell phones, laptops, and tablets. In this case, an ITAD partner can help your business properly wipe high volumes of endpoint devices so that they can be recycled, donated, or redistributed to another member of your workforce.

ITAD is also ideally suited for bigger jobs, and it can be used to wipe sensitive information off medical carts or decommission data center servers. In fact, data center ITAD is perhaps one of the most common occurrences as many organizations move from on-premise data centers to hybrid or cloud environments. In this case, considering using ITAD services to ensure your data center hardware is completely wiped, has all asset tags removed, and that the individual pieces of hardware are then broken down. ITAD can also involve hard drive or storage device destruction along with data center decommissioning.

Essentially, any IT-related equipment can be a candidate for ITAD. That also means that ITAD services can be customized to fit your business’s needs, whether you’re ready to upgrade mobile phones for your end users or you’re looking to move your entire data center into the cloud and want to say goodbye to your physical servers. 

Where Do Devices Go After ITAD?

After your decommissioned hardware has been properly wiped, you have a few different choices about where it can go next. Most commonly, companies opt to resell their hardware for the best return on investment. ITAD partners can work with your business to decide if it makes the most sense to resell the device as a whole or break it down into parts to receive the most value back.

If hardware is not in good enough condition to resell or the devices are too outdated to hold resale value, organizations can opt to recycle their hardware. ITAD partners can work with your business to destroy the assets and then recycle as many of the materials as possible.

If your company is looking to repurpose endpoint devices for other users within the business, that can be an option as well. Because ITAD is such a customizable service, you can also choose to have devices wiped and then reassigned to other employees within the company.

If you’re looking to give back to your community, you can also choose to donate electronic devices. By going through the full ITAD process to properly decommission the assets beforehand, you’re protecting yourself from having any data leaked or asset tags remaining on the equipment. 

Benefits of ITAD

Taking a proactive approach to ITAD, including working with a trusted ITAD partner to decommission or repurpose hardware you no longer need, can have a multitude of benefits for your business. Let’s look at some of the key advantages of ITAD.

ITAD can be a powerful cost savings tool for your organization because it gives you insight into your hardware investments. If you onboard ITAD services, those ITAD specialists can work with your business to make sure you’re making the most of your existing hardware assets and know when it might be time to upgrade. By keeping close tabs on the value of your company’s electronic devices, you can save money in the long run. Certain ITAD services partners also offer the ability to trade in retired IT assets and upgrade to new hardware. That way, your business can receive a discount when upgrading to the latest and greatest devices.

As mentioned earlier, having a proactive approach to ITAD is also essential for data security. When you have an ITAD strategy in place and a clear process for disposing of old hardware, you’re saving yourself the headache of potentially having your data leaked, shared, or stolen without your consent. Depending on the scope of the ITAD project, some ITAD partners use Department of Defense-level data destruction that ensures any hardware data is thoroughly destroyed. When it comes to data center decommissioning, for example, sometimes ITAD can be used to break down large pieces of hardware into tiny pieces after they’ve been wiped. With that process in place, you can sleep easy knowing that none of your decommissioned hardware can be traced back to your business and that your data can remain with you alone.

For organizations looking to reduce their environmental footprint, ITAD can also be a great way to accomplish that goal. By working with an official ITAD partner to decommission and recycle your hardware, you can ensure that all equipment is properly recycled and that there’s no danger of it winding up in a landfill. 

Read the related Use Case: Leverage ITAD to Securely Sunset Outdated IT Equipment and Contain Costs


As more businesses look to downgrade their physical office footprints and move their data center environments to the cloud, ITAD can become a powerful tool to make sure that the physical hardware is properly sunset and recycled. Likewise, with remote work more popular than ever before, ITAD can be a key strategy in making sure that organizations make the most of their investment in endpoint devices. When you’re ready to upgrade your business’s IT equipment, look to ITAD to ensure that the old devices are decommissioned effectively or reused where needed. Disposing of IT assets is not as simply as tossing them into the nearest trash can or recycling bin. Instead, ITAD services ensure that you keep your sensitive data protected and maximize your IT investments.