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What to Consider Before Donating Your Computer

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Let's say you're upgrading to a new computer and you want to donate your old one or even give it to someone else. Before you just hand it over, take a minute to think of the life's worth of information stored on it. You've created files, written personal and business emails, stored pictures and videos...and explored interesting websites over the years.

That may have all been in the past, but your computer still carries memories of it. Now maybe the new owner will not try to see what's on your hard drive, but what if the PC gets donated again and winds up in someone else's hands...someone with amazing computer skills?

So, you might think twice before you simply hand over your computer.

Here are a few things you might want to think about before you put your PC in the hands of anyone, friend or foe. We're just going to mention the topics: You'll be able to find more information—and in many cases, special programs that are available to assist you—with a little online research.

  • Back up your documents
  • Save important contact lists
  • Transfer your most important emails to your new computer; then delete them from your old one
  • Delete everything you have downloaded
  • Remove all installed software
  • Remove memory
  • Delete all photos
  • Delete all videos
  • Remove temporary files
  • Clear all history
  • Remove saved passwords
  • Keep essential office programs
  • Clear Internet files and cached websites from your browser

Keeping safe on your new computer.

Are you someone who's very concerned about Internet privacy? If so, when you get your new computer, you may want think about taking steps to keep tracking and prying eyes to a minimum.

  • There are features on most browsers that can block websites from tracking your Web movements.
  • There are add-on specialty programs that can help you keep everything private while you're using your computer and going online.
  • Learn how to prevent unauthorized access to your PC, especially if you're around others in an office environment.
  • Create a virtual "safe" on your hard drive—a personal vault for your personal information that no one will be able to break into.
  • Password-protect any "thumb" drives (USB) and keep those portable files secure.
  • Install the best antivirus programs you can find.

Again, you can learn more about these topics by doing your research online or even talking to an IT technician you know and trust.

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