Before you get rid of that old computer

When you get rid of an old computer, make sure you’ve really removed your private data first. The normal method to delete a file doesn’t actually remove it from your disk drive.

The data may still be there, even if you format your disk drive.

Think about what confidential data is on your computer. Your customer list, your emails, your bank account information. You don’t want that data in someone else’s hands.

Imagine your computer’s disk drive as a library, full of books on the shelves – the files on your computer. The library also has a catalog, showing the location of each book.

When you delete a file from your computer, you don’t actually remove the file. You only remove the file’s entry in your disk drive’s “catalog”. If someone walks over to the shelf, the book is still there, ready to read. And, if someone runs a program to scan your disk drive, they will find the file you thought you deleted.

To really delete a file, you need to run a “disk wipe” program.

A disk wipe program will go to a deleted file’s location and completely overwrite all the data there. They can overwrite the data several times, to make sure no one can ever find the original data from the file. If you want to be extremely safe, you can use the same techniques the government and military use to delete their data.

You can also use a disk wipe program to overwrite every file on a disk drive: your Windows files, your programs, and your data. This is an excellent choice when you give away a computer.

I recommend a free program named – surprisingly enough – Disk Wipe. You can download it at

Running the program is simple. You copy the program to a small USB drive, plug in the USB drive to the computer you want to wipe, and run the program.

Doing this quick, simple step will let you safely get rid of old computers, without giving away your confidential information.