Safely Donate Old Computer


Dear Computer Lady,

Thanks for a terrific newsletter.  I’m on about my fifth computer, and I have happily donated the old ones to charities in the past.  Having just acquired a new laptop, I’m ready to send another old friend off to a good home.  

But now I’m wondering: what with the internet and the proliferation of identity theft scams, is there something that should be done to a computer before giving it away? I don’t want to make life easier for the scammers while trying to do a good deed.  

Many thanks! Shirley



Dear Shirley,

I am happy to hear that you are donating your old computers to good causes. There are many families out there that can’t afford a computer of their own.

Yes, you should do something with your old computer. If it is a brand like HP or Emachine that comes with a system restore CD, just run the restore disks and put the computer back the way it was when you first bought it. This will erase all your personal information in the process. 

If the computer didn’t come with a system restore program, it might be worth your while to take it to a local computer shop and have them format the hard drive, and re-install Windows. If money is an issue, you might also be able to find a local high school youth who could do it for you. I know our high school students need to have a certain number of community service hours in order to graduate.

When people donate computers to my A+ certification program, we always make sure we erase the hard drive before doing anything else with the computer. You might be able to find a program like this that will guarantee your data is erased.



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