Do These 4 Critical Steps Before Disposing of an Old Computer

Last Updated Aug 9, 2010 12:18 AM EDT

It's just a matter of time; eventually, you will have to dispose of whatever computer you're reading this post on right now. If you have an IT department, you're all set.

But if you have a small business and need to get rid of the computer yourself, then you need to do the right things to get ready for the disposal. Otherwise, you might be throwing away money, making it difficult to migrate to the new PC, or -- worst of all -- making it easy for thieves to steal your business data and personal information.

Recently, MakeUseOf explained the things you should check before disposing of old computers, and it's all good advice. Here's the rundown:

Back up your data. Even if you choose not to make a complete backup of the entire drive, though, you'll want to be sure to keep a copy of your personal files (on Windows Vista and Windows 7, that's everything in the User folder).

Serial numbers and registration keys. To reinstall your programs on the new computer, you'll need all your various software keys. Hopefully you saved that information with the original discs, but it's also possible to use a utility to recover that from your old hard drive.

Securely wipe your old drive. Before you recycle, give away, or donate your old PC, make sure your personal and business data is completely erased. There are ways to do this, but personally, I always remove the hard drive and give the PC away without it. I later physically destroy the drive.

Keep anything that's useful. Pull out the monitor, memory... anything you think you might be able to use on a different PC.