How to Clean a Computer Before Recycling

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With the prevalence of identify theft, you can never be too careful about removing your personal data from your computer before taking it to the recycling center. Fortunately, a number of free programs are available that can eliminate information from your hard drive permanently, reducing your risk of being a target for crime. Plan to spend one to two hours removing data from your computer, as you can never be too careful.

Things You'll Need

  • File shredding program
  • Download a free, secure file shredding program like File Shredder. This is a program that can delete items from your hard drive and immediately write over the space several times, erasing any remnants of the file from your machine.

  • Go through your hard drive and delete all files that contain personal or financial information from your computer, then empty out the recycle bin.

  • Open File Shredder and choose "Shred Free Disk Space," located at the left of the screen. This will go through your computer, shredding all available disk space on your machine, making all the files that were previously contained on that space unrecoverable.

Tips & Warnings

  • Save your important files on an external USB drive or CD-R before eliminating them for good in case you need a copy in the future.

References

  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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