The Best Way to Clear a Laptop Before Returning it to an Employer

By Sarai Jeremiah

Many businesses offer their employees use of a company laptop while they're employed by the company. It's not uncommon for employees to treat these laptops as personal computers, storing their documents, pictures and software on them. In most cases, employees are required to return the company computer back to the employer if their job is ever terminated. At that time, the employee will need to clear the laptop of all personal files and programs before returning it to their former employer.

Clearing a Laptop

Before completely clearing out the employer's computer, back up the files that you intend to keep. You can copy your files to a flash drive or portable external hard drive. If you have only a small number of files that you would like to keep, try emailing them to yourself. Once you've saved the files that you want to keep you can begin clearing out the laptop.Start by removing any personal images or files you may have on the computer's desktop. Set the desktop image back to the default background that was there before you changed it. If you can't remember which background was there, just pick any default image. Delete any files that you added to the desktop.Open all browsers that you used for surfing the Internet. Click on the "Tools" menu located at the top of the browser, then select the "Options" link. Look under the "Main" tab to find the text box for the Home Page, then click the "Restore to Default" button and press "OK. "Once again, click on the "Tools" menu and scroll down until you see the "Clear Private History" or "Clear Private Data" link. Check all the boxes, then click "Clear Now" to erase all your browsing and search history, saved form data, saved passwords, cache and cookies.Delete all personal files that you've put on the computer. A good place to look for files would be the Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Videos folders. If you've installed any software or programs on the computer you will want to delete those as well. Usually you can browse the "Applications" or "All Programs" folders to find the programs that you've installed. Click on the folder of the program, then select the "Uninstall" option.Now that you've deleted all personal files from the employer's laptop you will need to empty the Recycle Bin to permanently remove the files. According to Microsoft, files that you've deleted from your computer are stored in the Recycle Bin and can be restored unless you empty the Recycle Bin. Finally, wipe down the laptop with a moist towelette to remove any dust or stains.