Sell ​​a PC: erase, reset, clean


If you want to sell your PC, you have to clean it thoroughly beforehand. This does not mean the housing, but all files and tracks that others should not see. GIGA shows you how you can clean your PC and delete private data so that nobody can restore it.

You shouldn’t sell a PC that still has personal information on it. However, many believe that just deleting files is enough to clean the hard drive. However, anyone who has ever used a tool like Recuva knows how easy it is to recover deleted data.

To delete data, you can also format a hard drive:

You have three options if you want to clean your old PC before selling it:

  1. Either you makes him completely flat. It will mercilessly erased everything and the computer has only hardware, no operating system. But usually nobody wants to buy that.
  2. You can all too delete personal settings and all Uninstall programsthat weren’t on it before. But traces remain.
  3. Or you can start from scratch, format the disk and reinstalls Windows.

We present you the three options.

Sell ​​PC and destroy everything

If you want to sell a PC, the greatest risk is probably the embarrassment that you forget personal pictures or even important access data. Anyone who has been saving all their passwords in their browser for years shouldn’t be surprised if the new owner buys at their own expense – or if private pictures appear on the Internet.

The safest way to prevent this from happening is to use the tabula rasa method. Make the PC completely flat! Easy delete everything on the hard drive and then make sure that no one can ever restore anything to it. The disadvantage is that the new owner does not get an operating system and that is bad if you want to sell the PC. Here you have to weigh up.

With DBAN you can clean your PC pore-deep before selling it
With DBAN we can clean the PC pore-deep before we sell it

If you decide to give the computer a complete cleaning, the DBAN tool is highly recommended. This is actually an ISO file, i.e. a bootable CD image. You burn that on a CD and then start the computer from the disc. DBAN can only do one thing and it does it really well: It overwrites the entire hard disk with meaningless stringswithout having to load Windows. This will erase everything on the disk and can never be restored. The computer is clean, but the new owner now has the problem of not having an operating system or the necessary hardware drivers. In order to really be able to sell the PC, at least one Windows installation file and possibly also the drivers should be supplied.

Sell ​​the PC with fresh Windows

This option is recommended if you received a Windows installation CD with your computer or if it has a recovery partition that you can use to reset Windows. In this case, the PC can be sold as if it had just come from the dealer. All old data is eliminated and a virgin Windows waits for a new master.

  • If the computer has a recovery function, this is usually displayed briefly when it starts. Then you can read which key or key combination can be used to activate the recovery mode. Usually this is the F11 key or a combination of F11 and another key.
  • This function is used to reset the computer to the delivery state. All data on the disk will be deleted and Windows will then be reinstalled. However, this also means that all Windows updates that have been released up to then have to be reloaded. The drivers for the hardware are usually also missing. And all installed programs are also a thing of the past.
  • Nevertheless, this is probably the cleanest option. You should definitely choose the option to format the hard drive.
  • Otherwise it is advisable to first overwrite and delete the empty area of ​​the hard disk after the reinstallation so that nobody can restore the old data.

Windows has a command line tool called “Cipher” that can overwrite the empty space on your hard drive with random data. Any data still contained on it cannot be restored afterwards.

Overwrite the empty area of ​​the hard disk with “Cipher”

So you delete the empty area of ​​the hard drives:

  1. Press the on the keyboard Windows button and the letter R.to be able to enter a command.
  2. Give the order there cmd and click on OK. This will open a black window with a command line.
  3. There you enter the following and then press the return key: cipher / w: C:

“Cipher / W” is the command to overwrite the empty hard disk space. The “C:” behind it is the parameter for the hard drive C. If you have several drives, repeat the procedure for this by entering “D:” or “E:” instead of “C:”.

Overwriting the empty sectors can take several hours! Then you can sell the PC clean.

The same rules apply if you don’t have a recovery partition but have a Windows setup CD. Here, too, you should format the disk and reload everything. In both cases it is absolutely advisable to get all the drivers for the graphics card, sound card, network and Co. from the Internet (or to look for the dealer’s CD) in order to at least get the PC working after the setup.

Start the photo gallery(4 pictures)

Windows: Format hard drive (illustrated instructions)

Sell ​​PC and delete tracks beforehand

Under no circumstances should you sell a PC and leave all your data on it. Only the two methods described above are actually safe! But if you shy away from work or cannot deliver a Windows setup CD, you have to clean the computer thoroughly before selling it.

  • First you should delete all data that is in the folder Own files are located. And if you have stored data elsewhere, you should also remove this.
  • It is then advisable to uninstall all programs that were not supplied with Windows. You should do this with a tool like the Geek Uninstaller. This tool uninstalls programs and then searches for remaining traces in the system in order to delete them as well.
  • And at the end, when you are absolutely sure that nothing is lying around somewhere, you should overwrite the free area of ​​the hard drive with random data. The Windows “Cipher” tool can do this, as described above.

Studies have shown that this method is sufficient to guarantee data security. If you then sell the PC, you have at least some security and the buyer has a working computer.

Survey on data security on the Internet

How do you handle your data? Do you care about anything as long as it works or do you find data protection and anonymity on the Internet important? What if every step of you, every comment on the internet was traceable? What would happen to freedom of expression? Let us know your opinion on data protection and the Internet.

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