How to Erase Printer Memory & Other Key Aspects of Printer Security

How to Erase Printer Memory & Other Key Aspects of Printer Security

When people think about data breaches, they often think of the stereotypical movie scene where the hacker is mashing on the keyboard, typing furiously, all to gain access to the computer of their victim. In reality, data theft is not like a Hollywood movie. Most importantly, data theft can be prevented with the right precautions.

Many people do not think of printers as a potential security weak point within their business. After all, a printer just spits out pieces of paper, right? All of the information is held on the laptops, computers, and smartphones of the users within the business.

However, printer security is not that simple and, the truth is, a sneaky thief could steal your important data from your old printer. In this article, we will discuss how to erase printer memory and some of the other important considerations that go into ensuring printer security.

Protecting Data – Do Printers Have Hard Drives?

When someone learns that sensitive data can be gleaned from a printer, they are often shocked. Many people see a printer as a pass-through device that simply translates data held on the computer it is connected with. So, do printers have hard drives?

The answer to that last question is: maybe. Whether or not a printer has a hard drive depends largely on the type of printer that you have. For instance, a larger multifunction printer will likely have a hard drive onboard while a smaller, personal printer may not.

Even if your printer does not have a hard drive, it will have a small cache of memory from previous print jobs that may not automatically clear out after a job is complete. Understanding how to properly manage and dispose of devices with this kind of information is important to maintaining privacy and security.

Clearing Printer Memory Before Recycling

When it’s time to move on to a new device, many people recycle their old printers. This is obviously a great solution because it ensures that the parts of the printer will be disposed of correctly. However, before you take your printer to the electronics recycler, are you sure that all of the data has been removed?

This one step can make a huge difference in protecting your data and the data of your customers. Learning how to erase printer memory will ultimately depend on what type of printer you have. If you still have your manual on hand, you may want to consult an IT professional for detailed instructions.

Generally, the best way for clearing printer memory before recycling is to use the provided menu on the printer itself. Within the menu, there should be settings options for clearing data. On an MFP with a hard drive, this may be listed as a “restore to factory settings” option. On basic personal printers, the option will likely be shown as “delete print queue.”

If you work in a government agency or another industry that handles sensitive data, these methods of erasing data may not be adequate. In that case, you may want to consider professional data removal or even destruction of the storage device to ensure no data remains after the device has left your care.

What is Secure Printing?

Learning how to erase printer memory is handy for when you are done with a device, but what do you do to ensure security while you own the device? Certain government agencies as well as businesses in the health care or finance fields, for example, deal with highly sensitive customer data that cannot be revealed to anyone except authorized users.

This is where secure printing comes into play, which is especially important when printing to a device that is not immediately within reach or eyeshot. So, what is secure printing exactly?

Secure printing is an option within the print menu on a PC. When you select secure printing from the dropdown menu, you will be asked to set a PIN, which you will enter at your printer in order to begin the print job. This means that the document will be held in storage and only printed out once you are standing at the printer and have entered your unique PIN.

Obviously, not all printers support this feature. If you are working with sensitive data and you feel secure printing is a required feature, then you should ask your sales representative about secure print models and express that need to ensure you get the right solution for your needs.

Secure From Day One to Recycling Day

Now that you know the importance of clearing printer memory before recycling and we have answered some common questions like, “Do printers have hard drives,” and, “What is secure printing,” you should feel more confident in the security of your print devices.

Of course, if you have any questions about security or want to have a secure fleet of devices deployed in your business, please don’t hesitate to contact our experts at Smile Business Products.