Before Selling Your PC Make Sure Your Personal Data is Permanently Deleted

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Your old computer or laptop should be replaced with a new model. You want to sell or give away your previous computer. However, there is a lot of personal data on the hard drive that you do not want be leaked. In this article you will learn how to delete data once and for all so that it can no longer be reconstructed. You will also learn how to make your old hard drive usable on your new computer.

Delete personal files in the file manager

It is simple and obvious to delete the documents, images and tables stored on the computer over time in the file Explorer of Windows. Make sure you’ve fully backed up your data, such as on an external hard drive, or really don’t need it anymore before you start deleting it.

First, select the desired files and folders. Press the Delete button and you’ve deleted a file or folder from your computer’s hard drive. This is not quite true — after “deleting” the data is still present on the hard disk. This is proven by the “Recycle Bin” in Windows OS and you can recover recently deleted files through it. However, even if you empty the recycle bin, the data is still physically present on the hard drive or SSD drive.

This is due to the way a computer organizes the data in memory: a file is distributed as a result of bits and bytes in different places on the hard disk. So that the computer knows where the corresponding data can be found, it looks in the so-called TOC for the corresponding reference to the file you are looking for. If you now delete a file with the “delete” button, only this reference in the table of contents is removed, while the actual data remains on the hard disk and is only overwritten by new data over time. A freshly deleted file remains on the hard disk for some time. Especially if you pass on a computer with a data store that has only been deleted shortly before the sale, a clever buyer can restore the entire data stock with little effort.

To really make sure that your data can no longer be recovered, do the following:

Without safety net: delete files and folders irretrievably

If you want to delete folders – for example with personal data or photos – safely and permanently, Just delete the files from file explorer as well as from recycle bin and then download a Free data recovery software to checker whether your data recoverable or not. If that free data recovery software shows you your deleted files in its preview penal then it means your data is not permanently gone and can be recovered easily. 

Important: Do not perform the following steps until you have backed up all important files to an external hard drive.

Permanently delete files under Windows with Trusted File Eraser Tool

The Recycle Bin in Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 does not provide an option for safe deletion. Also, the key combination Ctrl-Delete recommended for deleting files as a supposed insider tip, which bypasses the recycle bin, only removes the references to the corresponding files. Therefore, for the final deletion of your files, you have only option left and that is free file eraser tool. Below I am describing a free file eraser tool that I have recently introduced to. The name of the software is Bitraser File Eraser by Stellar.

Since Windows cannot immediately overwrite the space it has shared when deleting files and folders, use the Bitraser File Eraser tool, which is free for one month. In addition to the variant for Windows PCs, the manufacturer also offers the program for Macs.

In addition to many functions for cleaning the drives from unnecessary files and speeding up the computer, the free tool offers internet activity traces wipe, erase system traces, schedule the erasure task. It uses adjustable erasing algorithm that overwrites files with random data up to 35 times after deletion, thus preventing later reconstruction. 

Best Free Tips

Often Overlooked: Delete Personal Information in Browser History

Your Internet browser stores in the default setting a list of the last websites you visited – this history log is often overlooked when passing on used PCs. The new owner of your computer can then easily understand which pages you have viewed. To delete your browsing history:

  • Google Chrome: Press Ctrl-H and click Delete Browser Data.
  • Microsoft Edge: By clicking on the icon with the three horizontal lines, open the “Hub” and select History. Click Delete Overall History.
  • Firefox: Here, too, click on the three horizontal lines and open the chronicle. Select Delete Latest Chronicle and from the all-down menu.
  • Opera: Open Opera’s settings and the Advanced tab. In the list on the left, select History and click the Delete button on the right.
  • Safari: Open the History pane and click Delete.

The most secure option for protection against unintentional data transfer is to format the hard disk. All personal files, programs, settings and the operating system itself are removed from the computer.

Format hard drive on Windows

On a Windows PC, perform the following steps to format a hard drive:

  1. Open the Explorer and select from the bar on the far left the entry This PC.
  2. Right-click the desired drive and the Format option in the context menu.
  3. In the Format Drive dialog, deselect Quick Formatting, as it merely deletes the table of contents while leaving the data on the drive untouched.
  4. Click Start to format your hard drive.

Conclusion: High security and data protection

If the old computer is to be passed on or sold or you simply want to ban certain data sets from the hard disk once and for all, simply deleting them with the delete button is not enough. Both on the Mac and on the PC, deleted data remains present until it is gradually overwritten. Use software like Bitraser File Eraser for Windows/Mac to ensure that deleted data can no longer be reconstructed.

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