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Windows 8: Erase Your Old Computer's Hard Drive

If you have a new machine loaded with Windows 8 and want to donate your old computer, remember to erase the hard drive on the old machine. A freshly donated hard drive can be a thief's delight. If it's like most hard drives, it contains passwords to websites, e-mail accounts, and programs; credit-card numbers; identifying information; and possibly financial records. None of this information should fall into the wrong hands.

If your hard drive contains particularly sensitive information, purchase a data-destruction program, available in the Utilities section of most computer stores. These specially designed programs completely erase the hard drive and then fill it up again with random characters. (Many programs repeat that process several times to reach the required government privacy specification.)

If you have a tech-savvy friend or child, have him or her download Darik's Boot And Nuke program. The freebie program creates a bootable CD that wipes your hard drive clean.

If you're donating a Windows 8 computer, run the Remove Everything and Reinstall Windows tool. Be sure to choose the Fully Clean the Drive option when telling the program to clean your hard drive.

To wipe your hard drive clean in Windows 8 and reinstall Windows 8, follow these steps:

  1. From the Start screen, summon the Charms bar, choose Settings, and then choose the Change PC Settings link.

  2. Click the General category, find the Remove Everything and Reinstall Windows section, and then click the Get Started button.

  3. Follow the instructions, telling the program to clean your hard drive.

    When the program finishes, it leaves your computer freshly scrubbed, free of your personal data, and with a copy of Windows 8, ready for the new owner.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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