How to empty a computer before selling it

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Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
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Are you about to sell your computer? Be careful to empty it before giving it away to prevent personal data from appearing everywhere. We will explain how and why to do it in the most radical way possible whatever your operating system. 

When we sells un computer, we often ask ourselves an important question at the last moment: how can you be sure that all your personal data has been erased from the disk? How do you pass on a like-new PC or Mac from a software point of view? The reflex of many will surely be that of indulging in the tedious task of uninstalling all your applications, erasing personal folders.



Unfortunately, this method does not allow you to be 100% sure that you have empty definitely the machine of all your personal data. Neither does it make an OS “like new”. Because by installing and uninstalling applications, by deleting your account, you have left traces everywhere.

Whether in the registry on Windows, or in the configuration and permissions files on Mac and Linux. In short, the only solution is to reset the system with the option of a complete and more thorough formatting of your hard drive than that described in this method.

How to erase everything on your PC or Mac computer before selling it

We will therefore see here a method for PC and another for Mac to completely reset your computer. We will assume that the computer in question is equipped with at least Windows 8, or Mac OS X. For earlier versions of Windows, you must have an installation medium, and boot on it and follow the installation wizard by making sure that the startup disk is properly formatted.



In any case, before you start, remember to back up all your files.

For Windows 10 and 8

In Windows 10 and 8, the system has the ability to reset itself automatically. You just have to go to the Settings> update and security. In the left menu, click on Recovery. under the first option Reset this PC, click on Trade then Delete all Follow the instructions that appear on the screen. The computer will be reformatted and a copy of the same OS will be automatically reinstalled.

You can find more information on how to reset recent Windows systems by following this tutorial.

Under macOS

  • Turn off your mac and start it by holding down the keys Cmd+R
  • When you get to this screen double click on Disk Utility
  • In the left column select your internal drive
  • Select Clear
  • Choose a name, and click Clear
  • Quit Disk Utility
  • Double click on Reinstall macOS and let yourself be guided

There you have it, at the end of these steps you should have a like new computer that you can give away with peace of mind. If you liked this guide, you'll probably like this one: Windows 10: All System Backup & Restore Tools.


The editorial advises you:

  1. Mac: how to create a bootable USB drive in macOS?
  2. How to install Windows 10 on any Mac very easily
  3. How to Check the Performance and Health of Your Hard Drive or USB Flash Drive
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