Prepare Your PC Before You Donate It

Reselling or Donating and old system

I’ve been asked many times what to do with old PC’s that are going to be donated, re-sold, or given away.

The best way to make sure that your computer is safe and clean for resale is to run a full system recovery using the operating system discs that you either received in the packaging at the time of purchase or created yourself after
purchase. If you do not have the discs, you may be able to reformat from a recovery partition on your local hard drive. If neither of those options is viable, you can contact the manufacturer to acquire the discs often with a download of and ISO file (disc image)..

To run the recovery from a partition, you will need to access the advanced boot menu on your computer when you power it up, typically by pressing F8 repeatedly as you power on the unit. This will bring you to a screen on which you can select a "repair your computer" option, and from that selection you can run a full system recovery.

To run your recovery from the discs, you will want to turn on your computer, then restart it. During the post screen (the screen that shows the brand of your computer or motherboard) you will see a "Boot Menu" with the appropriate key to press to access this list next to it. Repeatedly press the designated key then select your CD/DVD drive when the list shows up.  After this, follow the steps given to recover your computer!

A System Recovery will put your PC back to the way it was when you first opened the box, suitable for resale.  For donation wiping the drive is more suitable.  You want to protect yourself from any potential theft of your private information or licensed software. There are options for preparing/wiping your PC hardware only to be donated or re-sold.  These include formatting your hard drive with no OS using a type of program that will format write 0’s to all of the disc any number of times.  This ensures the data that was on it can not be recovered in any easy manner.  Although your PC will be unusable until an operating system is installed, it is probably the safest way to prepare your PC and protect you confidentiality. 

If you have lost your original CD/DVD and no recovery/factory partition exists, there are several good shareware tools that included a wipe disk capability up to the DOD level of protection.  For example: Ccleaner.

If you need help with this topic, contact the CCS Retail Systems Support Department at 800.672.4806 or email us.


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