If you have an old laptop lying around and it is not being used, you might consider selling or donating it. It would clear up some space on your desk, and you might also find a good buyer and earn some cash in the process. But is there a way you can prevent the next owner from digging into your old files, pictures, documents, and other private data that were stored on your hard drive?
Well, some people choose to remove the hard drive altogether and replace it with a new one, but that could be expensive, especially if you are planning to get rid of the computer soon.
Instead, you can keep the hard drive and do a factory reset. This is because simply deleting your files does not remove your cookies, passwords, and other data from your browsers. Therefore, reinstalling the system before selling it is the safer option. If you love to get useful safety tips for your laptop, make sure to follow the Laptop Verge blog.
Generally, wiping the laptop clean with a factory reset is enough to keep your data safe. However, some advanced hackers might be able to recover your data using special software even if a factory reset has been performed.
Consequently, users who have sensitive data on their laptops choose to replace the hard drive instead of just wiping it clean. However, if you are giving it to your sibling or friend, you might only need to perform a factory reset, especially if you trust the new owner.
What to Do Before Clearing Your Data
Before clearing your data, you need to back up all the important files that you will need to transfer to your new laptop. You can do this using plenty of methods; they are all quite simple, but here are the easiest methods to backup your data.
Use External Drive
This is one of the popular methods used in backing up data. Buy an external drive, connect it to your old laptop, and start transferring all the important data you want to keep. This is an affordable option nowadays as external drives are a lot cheaper than before.
This method is quite fast and efficient; however, you might need to get a drive with plenty of storage space to take all your files at once. Once the transfer is complete, you can then connect the external drive to your new laptop and start downloading all the files.
Use Cloud Storage For Backup
This is the most used method to transfer data from one laptop to another as it is reliable, fast, and secure. Any online storage service will only require you to sign up, and then you can upload files or easily drag them into the cloud storage.
You can use OneDrive, Google Drive, or DropBox as they all offer the same services. Keep in mind that you might need to purchase some extra space for a monthly fee if your files were too big for the cloud.
Once you have uploaded all the essential files to the cloud, you can access them from your new laptop and start downloading them to your new drive. You will also have an accessible backup at all times on the cloud in case of any malfunction on your laptop.
Create a System Image
Creating a system image is one of the methods to have a backup of all the files on your laptop or the files on a specific partition. This allows you to take snapshots of everything on your drive, including system files. This method is integrated on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X to create system image backups.
How to Wipe Your Laptop Clean:
While wiping your data from an old laptop, you might be tempted to just delete files and move them to the trash. However, this is not an effective method, and the deleted files can be restored easily by the new owner. Therefore, follow these next steps to wipe your laptop clean.
How to Reset Your Mac
Following the next steps, you will erase everything on your hard drive and reinstall a copy of OS X. So it is critical to make sure you’ve first backed up your important files.
First of all, make sure to plug your laptop into an electricity source and connect it to the internet. The next step is restarting your Mac and as it boots, hold down Command + R, and once you see a menu pop up, select “Reinstall Mac OS X”.
How to Reset a Windows 8.1 Laptop
If your laptop runs on Windows 7, then this process will be a bit tricky as it varies from one vendor to another. Even though Dell has a pretty helpful guide, the steps are too confusing for most people, and in that case, you might need to use applications to erase your hard drive instead.
If your laptop runs on Windows 8.1, then the process is straightforward. First of all, swipe down to view settings and select “Change PC Settings”, then choose “Update and recovery” from the bottom of the menu.
The next step is a bit confusing as you will need to choose “Recovery” even though you are not trying to recover any files at that point, but once you click on “Recovery”, it will show you the option to “Remove everything and reinstall Windows”.
And right under “Remove everything and reinstall Windows”, select “Get started”. Now you need to click on “Next” when you see the Reset prompt. Then select “Fully clean the drive”. According to Microsoft, following these steps will erase all your settings and files.
But if you are looking to wipe your laptop to government standards, you might need apps such as Softpedia DP Wipe or Active KillDisk. Bear in mind these apps are free of charge and quite effective. For Macs, you can try Paragon’s Disk Wiper; this app is free of charge and is also compliant with the government erasure standards.
After following the steps of backing up your files and then wiping your laptop clean, your laptop will be restored to its original state, and you can list it for sale on Craigslist or eBay.