Recycling or donating your personal computer, or PC, is a great way to help the environment and keep dangerous materials out of the landfill. However, you must be careful to protect your personal information as well as ensure that your data is backed up and your accessories secure. Here are some ways you can prepare your PC for recycling or donation.
Check Your PC for Discs, Accessories
Check your disc and USB drives for any media that you may have left behind, but that you want to keep. Also, pull out any speakers, printers, monitors, or any other accessories that you are not recycling. You may be surprised to find a CD that you left in there a long time ago and forgotten about.
Backup Important Data
Go through your files and backup any programs or files that you want to keep and transfer to another PC. Delete those files once you've ensured that you have backed them up. You might also want to enlist with a secure cloud service for easy transfer as well as a safety backup. That way, if your initial backup fails, your files are still safe.
Wipe Clean the Memory
There are two ways you can wipe your PC's memory. One way is to simply wipe out the hard drive by using the disk wipe utility. However, if you have super-sensitive data, then you may also want to use a professional hard disk cleaner for a more thorough result.
Reinstall Operating System if Necessary
Generally, if you know your are recycling for parts, then there is no need to reinstall the operating system because the computer will be broken down into pieces. However, if you are donating a complete PC, and there's any chance that someone will be reusing it, then you might want to make it bootable and install a bare bones operating system.
If your computer is not working, then you might want to think about removing the hard drive. That way, even if someone does manage to get the PC working again, your data will be completely removed. You may still be able to get the data off that hard drive later if needed.
If you are thinking of donating or recycling your PC, then you should clean it up and protect your old data as much as possible. Ask the PC recycling center what they plan to do with your computer after you give it to them. That way you know how much work you need to do to your computer before handing it over.