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Disposal: How to Prepare Your PC for Disposal

Disposal: Before you can recycle or resell your old PC, there are a few steps you can take to protect your data and privacy, from software transfer to deleting your machine.
You have an old or unused computer that you want to discard. Maybe you plan to sell it, give it to someone, or donate it to the organization. Or maybe the PC is out of date or out of touch with reality. No matter what you intend to do with the PC, there are a few steps you need to take before you can say it right.

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First, you will need to back up any personal files and data elsewhere. If you have any licensed software, shut down and uninstall it from your machine. You can then erase the hard drive to delete any personal data tracks. Lastly, you will want to make sure that the computer is usable for the next person you find or are not used when it goes to the trash. Here’s how to prepare Windows PC or Mac for proper disposal.


Save Your Files

Your first step should be to back up any documents, photos, videos, and other files stored on your computer, a process that varies depending on where and how your content is stored. For cloud-based file synchronization service, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, the process is as simple as your personal files are already stored elsewhere. Just make sure that all the files you need to keep are backed up to the cloud or synced to another computer.
If your personal files are only stored on a computer that you plan to dispose of, you will need to make a backup copy elsewhere. Windows has a built-in File History tool for storing key folders and files on an external drive; Mac users can switch to Time Machine. Its the first step of disposal

Of course, an external backup tool for an external company will also get the job done, but the above options are simpler and cheaper. It should be sufficient to make a backup copy of all required files.

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Transfer Software

If you think you are moving to another computer after discarding your current one, you will want to make sure that all your licensed software can be activated in the new system. Some applications, such as Photoshop, offer a locking feature that allows you to transfer the license to a different PC.
Open each licensed program to see if you can disable it by using the menu commands. Be sure to copy any licenses or product keys to help you re-activate each program.

Clear Your Hard Drive

After backing up the required files, you want to clear the drive. You can reset and reinstall the operating system in factory settings and extract all your personal data at once. The reset process will vary slightly depending on which version of Windows the computer is running and which components are inside your Mac.
You may also choose to use a third-party tool, especially if sensitive data is stored in the drive. Tools such as Disk Wipe, Active KillDisk, and AOMEI Partition Assistant provide robust and flexible Disposal methods.

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Windows 8.1

In Windows 8.1, go to Settings> Change PC settings> Update and recovery> Restore. Under the heading Remove everything and reinstall Windows, click the Start button. Whether you plan to upgrade or disconnect the PC, select Fully Clean drive. Click the Reset button to continue.
The PC will then restart, clean the drive and reinstall Windows. The next screen you see will be the setup screen. If you plan to donate a computer, just turn off the PC here. The next person who starts the computer will be taken with the same setup screen.

Destroy Your Drive

If you are planning to shut down your computer and are concerned about accessing sensitive data on your hard drive, software options may not be enough. The only sure way would be to destroy a physical drive. To do this, you can turn to the degausser, which will erase all data on the drive and make it impossible to recover. Degaussing removal tools can be expensive, however.

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Reuse Computer

If you plan to dump a PC, do not dump it with any other common garbage. Big box stores like Best Buy and Staples have recycling bins for a variety of electronics. Apple and Amazon will also welcome their products back.

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