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How to Wipe a Laptop to Sell or Donate - 10 Critical Steps to Protect Yourself

published 4/2/2020

Buying a new laptop computer can be a lot of fun. After all, you get to shop around for the latest features you've been wanting, take advantage of faster processors, and just enjoy the thrill of having a brand new toy.

But you'll need to get rid of your old machine. No matter if you plan to sell it, donate it to charity, or simply trash it or recycle the parts, it's important to wipe the hard drive first.

This article takes a look at how to wipe a laptop to sell. Keep reading to discover important tips for how to clear memory on Windows 10 or macOS machines.

Windows 10 vs macOS Machines

Keep in mind that the process from clearing a hard drive is different for Windows and macOS Catalina. Let's take a look at the process for each.

Windows 10

Here are the steps you'll need to follow to wipe your Windows machine. It's important to perform these steps in this exact order.

1. Open "This PC"

The first thing you'll need to do is the open "This PC" by typing "This PC" is the windows search field and then pressing enter.

A window will open that displays some of your computer files and whatever drives that are connected to it.

2. Select "Format"

Next, right-click on the specific drive you're wanting to wipe, then select Format. This will open the formatting menu, which provides several options for how to wipe the drive and rename it after formatting. This will also allow you to set up the drive for new data.

3. The "Quick Format" Option

Now you'll need to decide whether or not you plan to use the hard drive once you've wiped it. If you plan to keep the computer, choose the "Quick Format" option.

This will speed up the process but provide less security. Keep in mind that the quick format option simply rewrites over data rather than removing it.

The alternative method is to use Disk Management to select the drives and partitions that you'd like to format. Just be aware that the results of this process won't be as secure as a normal format.

You'll also need to keep in mind that you won't be able to perform a quick format on the driver where Windows 10 OS is installed. Instead, you'll have to perform a total system reset as described below.

4. Wiping Your Drive

When you're reading to wipe your main Windows 10 drive, you'll need to type "Reset this PC" in the search bar and press Enter. This will open the menu that enables you to reset and restore your PC.

5. Select "Get Started"

Next, select "Get started" from the Reset this PC" menu. When the new window opens up, select "Remove everything."

This will officially kick off the process of wiping everything from the hard drive. It will clean off all apps, personal files, and Windows settings from your computer.

You can also repeat this process on any additional drives that you've installed on the computer during the time that you've owned it. Keep in mind that it's very important to make sure that all drives are totally wiped clean before getting rid of the computer.

macOS Machines

Now let's take a look at how to wipe a hard drive on a Mac. It's obviously different, but still pretty simple and straightforward.

6. Disk Utility

The first step is to open the Applications folder in Finder. Then open the Utilities folder and locate the Disk Utility. The new window will display your Mac's storage media.

If you don't see your drives displayed here, click the View drop-down menu, then select "Show All Devices."

7. Select a Drive or Volume

Once you see the list of devices, go ahead and select the drive or volume you wish to wipe. Now press the Erase button that's located at the top of your Disk Utility window. You'll need to select a new name and format for the drive.

8. Choose a Wipe Option

Next, you'll be asked to choose from the options available from cleaning the drive. Your options will vary based on whether it's a hard drive or a solid-state drive.

If the drive in question is a hard drive, Disk Utility will provide a Security Options slider that allows you to choose the security level that you prefer. Keep in mind that this option won't be available for solid-state drives.

9. Click "Erase"

Once you've made your choice, you can click the Erase button located at the bottom of the pop-up window. This will begin the process of wiping the drive.

The amount of time required to fully wipe the drive will depend on a number of factors, including the amount of data contained on the drive, the age of the laptop, and the speed of the processors.

Once you've started the process, don't try to stop or interrupt the process. Just be aware that once the wipe process has completed, all data on the drive will be lost forever.

10. Before Your Wipe Your Laptop

Wiping your laptop will erase everything on your hard drive. That's why it's so important to back up any files or data you wish to keep before initiating the process.

You can backup up to an external hard drive or flash driver. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry.

A Complete Guide for How to Wipe a Laptop to Sell

It's important to remember that old computers contain a ton of information. Thus you need to make sure that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Fortunately, these tips for how to wipe a laptop to sell can help keep your personal data as safe as possible.

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