7 Things to Do Before You Sell a Computer

7 Things to Do Before You Sell a Computer

In the US, 92% of households have at least one computer, which shows just how dependent we are on these devices. There comes a time when you need to replace yours, and as a way to recoup your losses, you’re thinking of selling your computer.

This is a great way to fund your new device, but you can’t just sell your old one and wash your hands of it. There are some steps you need to take before you sell a computer to ensure you’re doing it right and that it doesn’t come back to bite you.

Here are 7 things you need to do when selling a computer.


1. Back Up All Your Data

One of the most important things you should do before anything else is back up all your data if you haven’t already been doing so. You probably won’t need every file, but it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.

To be extra safe, you should make 2 backups: one on an external hard drive and one on the cloud. You can even take it a step further and put another copy on a USB stick.

This ensures that if you delete something important on accident, you have several copies to choose from, even if one backup fails.

2. Gather All Product Keys

Product keys aren’t used as often nowadays since programs and accounts are tied to usernames, but if you’ve got any product keys, now’s the time to gather them all up. For example, if you received a product key for Windows, you’ll need that to install it on your new computer. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase a new copy.

If you aren’t able to find your product keys, don’t panic just yet. There are several third-party programs you can use that’ll search your computer and find the keys for you.

3. Deauthorize Your Programs

Later in the process, you’ll take steps to wipe the computer completely so the new user starts afresh. But it can be a good idea to go through all your programs and deauthorize them before doing so.

Open up all your programs and delete your login information from them. You’ll also want to disable two-factor authentication (2FA) so your accounts aren’t tied to this device anymore. You can reactivate 2FA when you set up your new device.

4. Wipe Your Hard Drive

When you’ve done all the above steps and are ready, it’s time to wipe your hard drive. Keep in mind that deleting files isn’t enough, as the new owner of the computer can recover these files if they wanted to. Formatting (or wiping) your hard drive is the most secure thing to do.

If you have Windows, then you can use the “Reset This PC” function in the Settings tab. It’ll give you the option to remove all apps and settings but keep personal files, or remove everything. You’ll want to click the latter option.

Then, click on “Change settings” and then put the tab to “On” for “Data erasure”. Hit “Confirm”, “Next”, and then “Reset”. Be prepared for the entire wipe process to take a few hours.

If you want to be sure that all your data is gone from your computer, you can get something like Shred Cube. This is a USB file shredder that permanently erases your files and “shreds” them digitally. There’s no possible way to recover the shredded files, so this can give you peace of mind before you sell your computer.

5. Reinstall the Operating System

This step is optional, but it’ll make your computer more appealing for purchase, so we suggest following through with this.

Get your operating system (OS) discs out and turn on your computer. Put the discs in and follow the instructions for reinstalling the OS. You can stop the process right before creating a username so the buyer can start from there.

Some sellers choose to create a dummy account so they can show potential buyers that the computer is in working order. They can then delete that account once the computer is in their possession.

6. Clean Up the Computer

No one’s going to find a computer with greasy fingerprints appealing, so do your best to clean up. The newer it looks, the better.

Wipe down the entire device, including the screen and keyboard. You should also use some compressed air to clean up dust from hard-to-reach places, such as in between keys.

You should also pop open the case to give the inside of your computer a good clean as well.

7. List Your Computer

Your computer is now ready to sell! Get on the right platforms to give your listing the most visibility possible. Some great ones to try include Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

You’ll want to take plenty of clear pictures to go with your listing. Also, type out all the specs so people know right away what your computer offers.

Keep an eye on your listings and answer questions promptly. People can quickly lose interest if you don’t respond to them within a few hours or a day.

Sell a Computer Safely and Successfully

If you want to sell a computer, you must take the proper steps to prepare it beforehand. Without doing so, it’ll be easy for the next owner to retrieve your sensitive data, which can cause a whole host of issues for you.

It’ll make you more susceptible to fraud and identity theft, so make sure you take the time to thoroughly prep your device. You’ll thank yourself later!

For more on technology, keep reading our blog!

Arnold Bloom

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