Pile of old computer hardware. Filip_Krstic/ThinkstockPhotos

Retiring or selling your computer? Clean it first

Here’s how to securely wipe your PC.

Do you have some old computers laying around your farm office? You are not the only one! As technology continues to advance, old technology ends up in storage closets. When you decide to retire a device, avoid letting it gather dust – you can sell it, reuse it or recycle.

Before you do, here’s how you can securely wipe your PC or smartphone to protect your data:

1) Back it up
Make sure you back up and save all the files you need. If you use cloud storage like OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox, you may already have everything you need. However, sometimes you get a blue screen of death (BSOD) and aren’t sure if you can access your files. The good news is you likely can! If you are comfortable opening up your old computer, you can access files through another computer with a hard drive docking station. For smartphones, you can sync files with cloud storage, or connect your device to a computer to manually transfer files.

2) Use device software
If your PC is still in working order, on Windows 8 and up you can refresh or reset your PC back to factory settings. On a Mac, you can erase data using Disk Utility. On smartphones, you can reset your device back to factory also:

For Android, if you do not have the latest version, which allows for automatic encryption, you will want to go into Security in your Settings to enable encryption. Then you can go to Settings, then Personal and then Backup & Reset where you will need to enter a passcode to select Factory data reset under Personal data.

For Apple, go to Settings, then General and then from the Reset menu select Erase All Content and Settings and enter your Apple ID password.

For Windows mobile devices, go to Settings, then About and then Reset Menu.

As an alternative, you can use software to wipe your devices securely. DBAN is a free software designed to delete the contents of your computers, drives, mobile devices, files, and folders.

3) Sell, recycle or donate
Once you have backed up your files and wiped your device, you can sell, donate or recycle it. However, you will need to make sure you have the operating system software disc if you plan to resell or donate it. Not sure where to donate? Check if your device manufacturer has a recycling program.

Have tips to securely clean, or get rid of old computer equipment? Tell me about it in the comments below, on Twitter @nerdsquawk or via email at [email protected]

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

TAGS: Management
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