How To: Get Your Computer Ready For Donation

Your computer, phone, or tablet holds all kinds of personal information about you, and before you donate it, you should make sure to delete all of that information correctly.

Your charitable computer donation will be donated to help those in need. Below are some tips on how to prepare your device to be donated safely. On most devices, wiping your data securely is pretty straightforward, and doing so can prevent your data from being recovered by someone you would rather not have it. How you do this depends on which operating system you have and what type of storage drive your device has. Before you wipe a computer, make sure that you have a backup of any files you need and deactivate any software that requires doing so.

For Macs, Apple recommends logging out of any iCloud services, including iTunes and iMessages.Next, figure out which type of storage your computer has. On Windows, this information is harder to find than it should be, but the easiest way is to open the Defragment and Optimize Drives tool (type “defragment” into the search menu in the taskbar). On a Mac, click the Apple logo and then About this Mac, and select the Storage tab. The entry typically says “solid state” or “flash storage” for a solid-state drive (SSD), whereas for a mechanical hard drive it says “hard disk drive.”The following directions for wiping a computer will work with any system running Windows 10, as well as most Macs. If you have an older copy of Windows or if you like to get into the weeds with different file-deletion methods, a third-party tool like Dban is your best option.

Wipe and reset your computer

This is your last chance to retrieve any files, so check one more time before you proceed.If your computer has a mechanical hard drive, all that’s left is to format the storage drive and reset the operating system. When you do this, you have two options: to keep your files (which is useful if your computer is running slow or has other issues) or to remove everything, which deletes all your files stored on the computer and reinstalls the operating system. If your computer has an SSD and it’s encrypted, this step isn’t necessary if you’re recycling the computer, but it is a good practice.

Windows

A screenshot from a Windows computer during the process of wiping the hard drive.Open Settings and select Update & Security.Click the Recovery tab, then Get Started.Select Remove everything.Follow the on-screen prompts, and your computer will restart; depending on the size of your storage drive, this can take a few hours. Eventually it’ll land on the setup screen, and you can power it off.

Mac

The Mac Disk Utility area and a popup dialog prompt for erasing data stored on a media deviceFor a Mac, you need to boot your computer into a special menu:Turn on your computer (or restart it).Immediately press and hold the Command and R keys on the keyboard until the Apple logo appears. Once it does, release the keys.Your Mac will boot into a special recovery menu. Select the Disk Utility option from the menu.Choose your storage drive and then click the Erase button. It’s okay to keep the default settings for the format and the scheme.Click Security Options. If you encrypted the storage drive, you can leave this at the default option, but if you’re formatting a mechanical hard drive, you should move it up to at least the second most secure tier, “3-pass secure erase.”Once Disk Utility finishes erasing everything, you can turn off the computer. Or you can head back to the Utilities menu and select Install macOS if you want to start the process for the next owner, but that isn’t required.

ChromeOS

A Powerwash reset screen in the ChromeOSGoogle enables encryption in ChromeOS by default, and the reset process is straightforward:Open Settings.Type Powerwash into the search bar.Click Reset.Click Restart.Click Powerwash and then Continue.Note that Chromebooks connect to a Google account, which still stores most, if not all, of your data. When you run Powerwash, it automatically logs you out of your Google account.

Smartphones and tablets

As with a computer, you should take the steps to securely wipe and reset your phone or tablet before selling it. The process is much easier on mobile devices than on computers.

iOS and iPadOS

A general reset screen for iOS and iPadOSiPhones and iPads have device encryption enabled by default, so you need only to reset yours. First, make sure you have a recent backup, and then disable Find My. Once that’s done, you can reset the phone or tablet:Open Settings.Tap General.Tap Reset.Tap Erase All Content and Settings. Enter your passcode when prompted and then tap Erase.When the process is complete, the iPhone or iPad will restart, after which you can power it off.

Android

A reset options screen on an Android deviceRecent Android devices have encryption enabled by default, but double-check to make sure it’s enabled under Settings > Personal > Security (it may be in a different place on some Android phones). Also, make sure your phone is backed up. From there, you can reset the device. This process will vary depending on the phone model, but here’s how to do so on a phone running stock Android:Open Settings.Tap System and expand the Advanced drop-down.Tap Reset options.Tap Erase all data.Tap Reset Phone, enter your PIN, and select Erase Everything.Encrypting and erasing your devices is plenty for most people, though you can take the destruction route if you don’t plan on passing the device along. If you have a laptop that’s still functioning, though, consider donating it! Computers with Causes, in connection with Giving Center, will take in your donated computers and electronics, ensure that all data is deleted, and then donate to individuals and families in need! It is important to know older computers still have more life in them, and there’s always someone who can use them. For more information on what you can donate, or how you can donate computers to students, families, and veterans in need contact us at 888-228-7320 or visit us online at http://www.computerswithcauses.org 

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