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Giving Your Computer Away

What to do with that unneeded computer?




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When you get a new computer, odds are that you don't simply throw away your old one. You may tuck it away in the closet, or set it up elsewhere in the house as a "backup" PC but never use it. If you keep up with the cutting edge, you might have two or three unused PCs gathering dust. You may have considered giving your old PC away to a family member, Senior Citizen, or perhaps to someone who can't afford a new computer (needy students are everywhere), but wondered if it was really worth it, given that you can buy a new Dell for $299. Be assured that a working PC, even if a bit old, is a valuable commodity, and you can increase its value with a little work. A good gift computer is a working PC with your personal data removed, but your recipient may still need to do some work to get it set up for his or her needs, and may not have the knowledge or resources to do this. A better gift computer has had most of its internal configurations reset to as close to factory fresh as possible and has some software installed to keep a new user out of trouble.

If your computer came bundled with Windows (there would be a Microsoft Windows sticker on the PC), you can legally transfer ownership of it with the computer itself. You should include any restore discs or Windows installation discs with the computer. It is important that you don't accidentally use the same Windows Key to activate it on more than one computer, because this may prevent your computer's new owner from downloading Windows Updates, opening it up to being hacked. Also, it is illegal. In most cases, if other software came with the computer, it can travel with the computer too. If you bought a software package and installed it on your computer, it can either go with the machine or stay with you on another one, but it can't be on both.

You won't have any access to files on a PC that leaves your possession, so if you haven't already copied them off its hard drive, you'll need to do so before you delete them. The My Documents folder is where most of your files live, but if you have multiple Windows users, there's a My Documents folder for each one. You should delete other personal data, too. From your e-mail program, delete any inbox or stored messages, and compact all folders if there is such an option. Delete any contacts in the address book, and remove any server/log-on account information.

* Contact your local Senior Center

* Schools may need one, or a student

* How about a needy neighbor, or church?

* http://freecycle.org

* Manufacturers' Recycling

  * TechSoup Massive List

 * After this article was published, a   reader suggested that he puts them at the curb, and they are always taken. (OK, but make this the LAST choice)

To insure that you have all your old files removed from the computer you may want to use Webroot Windows Washer. This utility can delete sensitive data from history files, file caches, and logs crested by more than 450 different 3rd party applications without touching the Windows installation.

If you want to securely delete all the non-Windows files on the hard drive, Eraser 5.3 is the way to go. This program is FREE to use and is one of the best as it will overwrite the disk several making it almost impossible to recover files. You can adjust the number of times the disk is overwritten - the higher the number, the more the data is destroyed.

If the new owner doesn't want or need the existing operating system you can use Darik's Boot and Nuke to wipe the hard drive clean. Oh, and did I mention that it is FREE!!  It's advantages are speed and ease of use. However, it cannot be used to clean an individual file.

There are lots of free applications that can be downloaded onto the computer before it gets to its new owner.  Open Office contains not only a word processor but a spreadsheet, database application and presentation application. There are also free anti-virus programs as well as firewalls.

With a little effort on your part your old computer can be of service to some deserving person. If you cannot find a person for the computer you can offer your computer to members at      www.freecycle.org, or call your local Senior Center



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