How Do I Get Rid of Data on My Old Computer Before I Donate It?

By Eric Blankenburg

Before you donate your old computer you should wipe the hard drive clean of all data. Your old hard drive may contain vital personal information including your photos, bank accounts and other secure info. Just erasing this information from your computer won't completely wipe the hard drive clean, and any tech-savvy hacker can steal all of this information by re-storing it. So, it's no wonder why identity thieves are targeting old computers these days. To protect yourself fully you should either download or install wiping software.

Things You'll Need

  • Data wiping software

Step 1

Place all of the files you wish to permanently delete into your "Trash" folder. Open the "Trash" and erase or empty all of the contents.Simply erasing the information is not enough because it doesn't replace the existing binary codes, or 0's and 1's, that contain all of your personal information. It only tells the computer to make this space available for writing data over it. Any hacker can simply re-piece these codes together.

Step 2

Uninstall any programs or software you want permanently removed from the computer.

Step 3

Download or purchase one of the many hard drive data wiping software programs from the Internet or your local computer store. These programs are designed specifically to replace your computer's binary codes with random 0s and 1s, which cannot be used to put the erased information back together.

Step 4

Install the program according to the manufacturer's guidelines.

Step 5

Restart your computer and run the program. These programs are designed to sweep your hardrive for possible recoverable files that are still left on your computer. So it is necessary to use these programs to trace all of the sensitive data, like passwords, emails and bank or health records that may still be lingering somewhere in your hardrive.

Step 6

Select and choose what files you want to permanently erase from the list.

Step 7

Click on the "Erase Files" button to finish wiping your hard drive of all sensitive data. Use the program to scan the hardrive again for any other information you may have missed.