Things To Do before throwing away your Old PC
By on March 20th, 2008

Getting a new PC is always a exciting thing and I have been through it twice in the period of last one month. I created a new desktop for my home with all the latest hardware and also got myself a new laptop.

The excitement is euphoric but many a times people make mistakes of giving away their old PC’s without properly cleaning it up. Simply deleting files from your system does not ensure that you have cleaned it up. Any files you may have deleted can be easily recovered once someone else gets their hands on the hard drive.

There are also chances that you may miss out copying some important information or emails. This article will go into the details of how to ensure a smooth, safe and loss-less transfer of data from before you give up your old PC away.

Backup Backup and More Backups

Backup Your Files

One of the most fundamental things to do before giving away an old PC is to create backups of the files existing on your system. You can use a external hard drive or a flash drive to move the files around to your new system.

While backing up files remember to backup files from your Documents folder and also the Desktop folder which is usually overlooked by many.

Backup Your Internet Profile

Backing up your Internet profiles is also one of the most important things to do. You may have loads of bookmarks on your PC which may have been collected over a period of time.

Most of the Internet browsers allow you to easily export your bookmarks and other settings. If you are a Firefox user and would hate to download all those extensions or run those tweaks again there is a great addon called Firefox Environment Backup Extension (FEBE) which allows you backup and restore your complete profiles.

If you are want to check out other ways to backup your Internet profile you can read our earlier post on synchronizing your bookmarks with external servers.

Backup Your Emails and Contacts

One of the things many people tend to forget is to backup their email and contacts. If you are a Outlook user you can easily backup all your contacts to a format such as CSV or tab separated values and easily import it to your new computer. In addition to that you can also export your personal email folders and import it into another PC.

If you want to backup your calendar you can easily synchronize it with Google Calendar using the Google Calendar Sync utility. Once you have done that you can re-sync your calendar entries from Google into your new PC.

Backup IM Chats and Histories

If you use multiple IM’s and store the history of chats for future references then you should definitely copy over your history to the new computer. Many IMs have different locations to store the chat histories here are the default locations for most of the popular IM clients.

  • Yahoo Messenger – %SystemDrive%/Program Files/Yahoo!/Messenger/Profiles/
  • MSN Messenger and Windows Live Messenger – %SystemDrive%/Documents and Settings/%ProfileName%/My Documents/My Received Files/

You can find out the default chat locations of other chat clients by checking out their options or preferences.

Backup License Keys for Softwares

If you have purchased a software and plan to also install it on the new PC, make sure to backup the license keys so that you can use it with your new PC. You can check out our list of useful tools to backup your Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office product keys.

That said you should backup anything you think should be worth rather than ruing it after cleaning up your PC.

Cleaning Up Everything

Delete Files, Emails and Contacts

Once you have backed up your PC you can now start the process of actually cleaning it up by deleting the files. Start by deleting documents and pictures and move on to the other files that are stored across the PC.

Login to your email client and delete all emails and contacts and also permanently delete it from your system. Once you are satisfied that you have deleted everything simply clear the recycle bin. You can also use tools like CCleaner to completely wipe out the data.

Delete Internet Activities

Do not forget to delete your browsing history and bookmarks from the browser. You can easily do this by visiting the tools section of your browser.

Delete All IM Archives

Like wise also delete all the IM Archives that you have stored on your PC so that no one else can go through your chat history.

Shred Everything You Deleted

Just simply deleting everything from your computer does not mean that it will be completely destroyed even when you have deleted it from the Recycle bin. To do that you can make use of a popular software called Eraser which helps you clean your hard drive and remove sensitive data by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns.

Finishing It Up

Once you have ensured that you have backed up and deleted everything you can format your old PC and reinstall a entirely new operating system if you can. The above steps may not give you 100% results always but following them would ensure that you have a trouble free handover of the Old PC without having to worry about anybody prying on your old data.

If you are looking just to reinstall your operating system again then you should definitely check out the 10 things to check after reinstalling your operating system.

Well its been a long time I have been away so would be great to interact with you’ll again. Do leave your comments and thoughts about the things above, and of course feel free to add in your thoughts too they may come of help to others would want to give away their old PC and do it securely.

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Author: Keith Dsouza Google Profile for Keith Dsouza
I am the editor-in-chief and owner of Techie Buzz. I love coding and have contributed to several open source projects in the past. You can know more about me and my projects by visiting my Personal Website. I am also a social networking enthusiast and can be found active on twitter, you can follow Keith on twitter @keithdsouza. You can click on my name to visit my Google+ profile.

Keith Dsouza has written and can be contacted at

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