Last month, we told you how to recycle an old PC more safely. We suggested that you use an authorized refurbisher or disk-cleaning software to make sure that all of your personal information was removed from your computer before you gave it away.
Since we posted that information, we’ve received some feedback asking us to go into more detail about how you can remove this information yourself.
Empty your recycle bin. It’s not enough to delete files and send them to your computer’s recycle bin. You also have to empty the bin. To do this, right click the Recycle Bin on your desktop and point to Empty Recycle Bin. This sounds pretty basic, but easy to forget.
Delete documents that might contain sensitive or personal information. Do you keep a password file on your computer? How about tax or other financial records? Delete these and other personal documents before you give away your computer. Then empty your recycle bin…again.
Delete your Internet browser’s cache cookies, and history. If some websites have saved your password so you can log in quickly, make sure you delete it from all of those websites, so a hacker can’t do the same. Learn how to delete your browsing history in Internet Explorer. And then empty your recycle bin again. It’s fun!
It’s not enough just to empty the recycling bin. What? But you’ve gotten so good at it. The truth is that when you empty your recycle bin you protect your personal information from inexperienced data thieves. The most expert hackers, however, know how easy it is to recover information, even when it’s been deleted from a recycling bin. To be safe, use software that overwrites your information with random ones and zeros. You can get some recommendations for free and inexpensive software in this article, about how to protect and purge your personal files.