Secure your old computer before you give it away or donate it

By | August 20, 2011
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Mark is going to give his old computer to a needy family and wonders how to wipe the hard drive
I’ve just purchased a new Windows 7 computer and I am going to give my old Windows Vista computer to a needy family in my neighborhood. I have a lot of sensitive information on my hard drive, and I know that just deleting the files is not the same as erasing them (thanks to your newsletters). Is there a way I can completely remove all data from my hard drive so that nothing can be recovered from it. It’s not that I don’t trust the family I’m giving it to, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. I for one, appreciate your newsletters and your honesty, and I will continue to donate to you as I can. Thanks again, Mark.

Our Answer
Thanks so much, Mark. It’s a very nice thing you’re doing by giving your computer to a family in need.

We’ve done a lot of research on this topic. We’ve found a free software program that many experts recommend as the only program that will completely remove every bit of data from your hard drive so that no forensics recovery software can recover any data from it.

If you’re going to sell your computer or give it away, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you’ve completely wiped the hard drive with a program called DBAN (Derek’s Boot and Nuke). It’s the only one that most experts agree completely erases all data so nothing can be recovered from your hard drive(s). If you’re selling your computer or giving it away, use DBAN to wipe the drive, then reinstall Windows. No one is going buy a computer without an operating system. If you’re giving it away, you’ll want to reinstall the operating system before you give it to them.

Here is some important information about the freeware program DBAN:

Derik’s Boot and Nuke (“DBAN”) is a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.

DBAN is a means of ensuring due diligence in computer recycling, a way of preventing identity theft if you want to sell a computer, and a good way to totally clean a Microsoft Windows installation of viruses and spyware. DBAN prevents or thoroughly hinders all known techniques of hard disk forensic analysis.

DBAN is a free software product that can be used at home or in a business at zero cost. The only official place to obtain DBAN is by download at this web site. We do not sell DBAN media.

You can download DBAN from here.

Warning! Do not use this program on your computer if you intend to keep using it! It will wipe everything off your hard drive! Use it before you sell or give your computer away – and AFTER you’ve saved everything you want to save from it. After you use this program, nothing will be retrievable from it.

After you’ve wiped your hard drive with DBAN, you can go ahead and reinstall Windows Vista on it so that the family you’re giving it to can use it right away.

6 thoughts on “Secure your old computer before you give it away or donate it

  1. Leonie Cooksley

    Wish I had known this sooner have told a friend to just small the motherboard to pieces! He can now give it away so thank you and God richly bless

  2. Nancy Williams

    Thanks so much for all your wonderful tips and info. I have two older desktops that can no longer get online so how can I wipe them clean before I dispose of them? Thanks. Nancy

    1. infoave Post author

      The article on which you commented has the instructions to wipe your hard drive before you give it away. If you’re not able to connect to the internet with the other two computers, download the software to a flash drive using a computer with Internet access – then install the program on the computers you’re going to give away using the flash drive.

  3. madeline

    i already gave my screen, printer,scanner,keyboard, all wires for connections away….i still have the computer but cannot open it to destroy the mother board…the screws are such that it cannot be opened..sealed shut….is it safe for me to take a sledge hammer to it so that it will not explode ????

  4. madeline

    i already gave my screen, printer,scanner,keyboard and all wires with it away…i have the computer but cannot open it to destroy the mother is sealed shut………is it safe to take a sledge hammer to it and destroy all information without some kind of shock to me ??

    1. infoave Post author

      The Motherboard does not store any recoverable information. Your hard drive is what you need to erase. You don’t need to destroy it.


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