Laptops and PCs are an absolute necessity nowadays. In the past, you could maybe go through the whole education process without one, or use a library computer. Well, that has certainly changed, you’re required to do countless essays in some of the Office programs. You don’t wanna be stuck in your least favorite place for every assignment, don’t you? Not only that, but most of the lectures are online, and you can even finish a university via the Internet. Same goes for any job or helping you find one.
Doesn’t matter which age and financial status you are, in order to improve, you absolutely need a PC or a laptop. That’s all awesome, but what if you want your current PC just isn’t enough for your needs? Many people choose to either sell their computer in order to get as much money. Every dollar is precious when you’re saving up for a new beast that can finally render or help you develop your artistic skills in Photoshop. The other option, in case your PC is pretty old, and you don’t want to waste time going through all the struggle is to donate it. Regardless of your plans, we’ll teach you how to prepare a laptop or a PC before selling it:
Backup all important data to a new device
Whether you’re selling or donating your computer, he was your household member for at least a few years. That means he’s been with you every step of the way and holds a lot of memories you collected over the years. All your pictures and videos of your dog or a child were safely kept on the HDD. You would like to keep those, but you don’t know who’s going to use your computer after you, so you better play it safe.
The backup process can be done by multiple ways, depending on the size of files you’d like to keep, and how secure you need them to be. The first and the most obvious way is to gather them into a folder. In case those files are only a few GB in size, you can use a flash drive to keep them. If those files are really big in size, like more than 30GB, you would probably need an external HDD. Our advice is not to buy it, but borrow it from a friend of yours, as you need it to hold your data for a short period of time. You’ll buy a new PC soon, won’t you?
The other way, which requires a little bit more work, but way more secure, is cloning your partition or set of folders. You can use any partition manager program out there, and your files will be in a form of a .iso file. You can later mount those files as an artificial disk drive, and access them easily. Apart from HDD data, you used Internet a lot over the years, right? Then your browser has saved all your passwords for various services (If you chose to, of course). We’ll take the example of Google Chrome. Click the three bars or dots in the top right corner and then choose Settings. Next, select Show advanced settings > Manage Passwords. From here, just select the websites you want to see the password for, click Show Password, and copy/paste it into a document of yours.
Make sure all the files are gone forever
As we already mentioned, you wouldn’t like for the new owner of your PC to have access to your private data. After backing up, the next step would be to delete the data from your disk drive. The three options are, as you probably guessed:
Delete files, and then empty the Recycle Bin
Shift + Delete files, to make sure they’re gone
Format the disk drive, which will erase all data on it
And you would be right, all those steps are a viable and available option for you. While on SSD with TRIM enabled that would delete the data and make it unrecoverable, some HDDs speak a different story. If you’re using an HDD or an SSD with TRIM disabled, you must be aware of the difference in the process. On those types, the data won’t be really deleted completely, only the addresses that point to it.
The system will mark that the place is empty for the new files, but until you actually place new data over it, it’s still there. You can see how someone that has just gotten your computer can get their hands on a recovery software, and just get your data back. In order to stop that, you will need to wipe the HDD or SSD, which is a process of overwriting the files. There are a plethora of free programs that allow you to do just that, so just do a short search.
Install a fresh operating system
Okay, so you’ve done a backup of your files, and shredded them forever. The laptop or a PC is now a clean, empty slate to be started over on. Whether you’re selling or donating it, you should make sure it runs like it was bought yesterday. And trust us, the new user will be ecstatic you did a fresh installation. There are a lot of ways to install a Windows nowadays. You can burn the Windows version of your choice to a DVD, or make a flash drive bootable, and plug in it.
You can even mount the Windows ISO like a virtual drive, and go from there. The choice is entirely yours, and if you’re unsure, there are guides for literally everything about the process. If you don’t want to go to such a length, there are built-in options inside Windows. Those options allow you to restore Windows to an original state, or you can restart go into BIOS. When in BIOS, choose Load Optimized Defaults (it can be called Load Setup Defaults or Get Default Values). That’ll reverse all the changes you did over the years, and make it brand new.
Clean your PC or a laptop
All the cleaning and restoration you did was mainly software-based. In other words, you cleaned your PC on the inside. Before you hand it over to a new owner, make sure that the outside is presentable as well. You’re going to make your computer more likely to sell and for a better price. You can use the tools in your home, or go to a computer store, and buy, for example, a can of compressed air. Besides that, you’ll benefit from a soft brush for dust cleaning and a cotton rag to clean the screen and the keyboard.
If you don’t want to buy specialized tools, a good old hair dryer will do the job just fine. First go over with a brush, and clean the peripherals of your PC. For a laptop, do not go over the board, as you might damage something if you’re unsure. After the dust is cleared with a brush, it’s preferred to take your computer outside. Blow as much as you can with a blow drier to make your PC shiny. After all those steps are done, you’re officially ready to hand it over to a new owner!