Steps to Take Before Giving Your Old Computer to a Loved One


Computers can last users a long, long time, so if you have more than one laptop or desktop laying around you’d probably be okay with giving it away. Likewise, computers can also suddenly and unexpectedly break down. If you have a younger sibling in college who needs a computer ASAP to complete school assignments, you can make the exchange in just hours. Personal computers also tend to contain a lot of important and even sensitive information. Before you even consider donating an old computer to a friend or relative you have to know all about wiping a hard drive. It is imperative that you protect your private information as well as give away a computer that can be used freely and without any type of restrictions. Next up are the exact steps that should be taken prior to gifting a used personal computer.

Copy All Important Files

If you check out all of the folders on your desktop you will probably run across photos that you haven’t seen in ages and files that you forgot even existed. Some computer users have scanned copies of picture IDs, old bank statements, tax records, and other personal information that isn’t saved anywhere else. In addition to getting a copy of all your personal information for recordkeeping purposes, you also don’t want any of this data being accidentally compromised. Remember that it isn’t a matter of trusting your relative or friend with your personal data. The fact of the matter is that you don’t know where your old computer is going to end up once you give it away, and you can’t even be sure of who will be using the computer casually. Prior to parting with your old computer, you absolutely have to backup all of your private data.

Look Over Your Computer Specs

An older computer can work just as well as a newer one, if it has impressive specs. Consider the amount of storage space available on your computer, the type of processor it has, and other specifications. If you can make a few upgrades that will enable your computer to work more efficiently, be sure to optimize it before boxing it up and giving it away. Keep in mind that you will soon be wiping your hard drive and doing a clean installation of the operating system, so only look to optimize the core operational elements of your older PC.

Wipe Your Hard Drive Clean

There are a couple ways that you can ensure that your computer is running optimally and has none of your private information. First, you can manually go through every folder and directory, deleting files one by one. This method will take you hours if not days, and then it’s still going to be possible that you’ll miss some important files or even accidentally delete something that is critical to the way your computer operates. The other and best way to clean up a computer is to simply wipe the hard drive. Wiping a hard drive basically means that you’re deleting everything off of it and putting it back to factory settings. Do remember that there’s no way to unwipe a hard drive, so once you have deleted and purged it of all of its data, there isn’t any way to go back and recover any of the information that was formerly stored on it. This is probably the most important step you will take in preparation for giving away a personal computer.

Reinstall the Operating System

A computer that has a wiped hard drive needs an operating system to be installed before it can be used normally. Hopefully you will still have the original operating system disc that came with your computer when you first purchased it. If not, a new one will need to be acquired. There’s are free and good functioning operating systems, such as Ubuntu, that you can install on a personal computer that enable use of the internet as well as popular software.

Pack Up All the Peripherals

Last but not least, you need to disconnect your older personal computer and prepare it to be packed up. A mouse, keyboard, monitor, and CPU are the basic essentials and peripherals that you should have collected so that your loved one has access to a working computer. Don’t forget to pack the computer speakers, printer, scanner, and copier, if you have those accessories. Mousepads and computer desks are also helpful items to include if you are trying to set your friend or relative up with a computer and functional workstation all in one fell swoop.

Just make a note of what information you need to save off of your old computer, then back it up, check the specs, and wipe the hard drive prior to giving it away. If you have time, you should install an operating system and check the computer out to see that it works well. Remember to bring all of the cords and peripherals so there won’t be a delay when your loved one goes to turn on the PC.