Cleaning Up Old Hard Drives

[ad]Dear Computer Lady,

I made the mistake of donating my computer without the hard drives. I took them out (2, as I had to replace it during its life) to make sure it wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands…without using my brains as to how I was going to be able to clean them out later.

Is there a way to do this? My old computer was a big one while the present one is much smaller and don’t know whether I could fit it.

These 2 hard drives are sitting idly in my apartment instead of serving some needed person. Thanks so very much for your answer.

Sincerely, Adela

Dear Adela,

The easiest way to hook your old hard drives to your computer and clean them out is to get an adapter like the one pictured above.

This is actually one of the most used tools in my workshop since you can hook up any hard drive with it and plug it into a USB port on your working computer.

If you get yourself one of these USB to SATA/IDE adapters, and plug your hard drive into it, then plug the USB end of the adapter into your computer, you will be able to access your hard drive.

Just go to the “Computer” window on your computer, and you will see the hard drive listed. You can double click to open the drive and copy any files that you might need to your current computer.

When you have all the files you need off the hard drive, go back to the “Computer” window, right click on the external hard drive (Make sure you are NOT selecting the drive in your new computer) and click on “Format”.

Formatting the drive will erase the entire thing so that you can donate it.



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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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    • Longstreet
    • August 26, 2013

    Oh, Computer Lady–you know that merely reformatting a hard drive does not make it safe to release to the wolves.

    I recommend the disc cleaner, Eraser. Download at


    • sj_kac
    • August 28, 2013

    I once had a disk drive failure on my HP Pavilion notebook computer. It was still under warranty so HP sent me a new disk drive, with me returning the dead disk drive. Since the disk drive did not work I could not clean it. I did not want to send the drive with my data on it. So, after removing it from the computer, I took some magnets and set them on the drive overnight. Did this have any affect?

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