What to do before selling laptop?
Directly selling laptop without doing anything is very risk, because all your information is lying on the laptop hard drive, such as, medical records, browser history, password of your account, important emails, and more. They may mean a lot to you and should not disclosed to others. Thus, it's suggested to delete all data from laptop completely to to prevent others from using your data maliciously.
Before selling, please be ensure that you have a copy of your important files and your personal data will not be leak. Then, how to do it?
- First of all, you need to backup files to external hard drive or other storage device outside computer.
- Then, erasing laptop hard drive in Windows 10/8/7. You can use Reset Your PC or Reset This PC, DBAN or other third-party data erasing tool.
- Last, reinstall Windows 10 or other version to get a fresh copy of the installation.
What does it mean to erase laptop hard drive?
Erasing laptop hard drive means deleting everything on your computer, but not just deleting the location of files and making it invisible. If you use the “Delete” option to delete files or empty the recycle bin, the files are still here for retrieving unless you add new data at the same location.
If you just leave your hard drive as it was, the data can be recovered using data recovery software. It has the ability to rebuild the file header and make your files visible again on your computer. To avoid this situation, it’s necessary to overwrite your hard drive using built-in or third-party data erasing tool.
Backup laptop hard drive for protection
As mentioned earlier, erasing laptop will remove everything on it, so it's suggested to create an exact copy of this disk in case you want to use the same configuration on another computer or retrieve data in the near futhure.
To make it, you need a reliable file backup software like AOMEI Backupper Standard for Windows 10/8/7. By using it, you can backup system, disk, partition or files per your needs. And it supports protecting your data continuously, such as, schedule backup in daily/weekly/monthly, backup only changed files with scheduled incremental backup or single different backup, etc. In addition, it support multiple backup destinations, such as, external hard drive USB flash drive, cloud drive, network drive, and so on.
Next, let’s get started to backup files so as to get a copy of important files you don’t want to lose.
1. Download AOMEI Backupper Standard and install it on your computer. Then, choose Backup and Disk Backup subsequently.
2. Click Add Disk to choose the disk you are preparing to wipe.
3. Click the folder shaped button to select destination path to store the backup image.
4. Then, confirm everything is right and click Start Backup to backup your disk.
How to Erase laptop hard drive before selling in Windows 10/8/7
As mentioned earlier, you can clear hard drive before selling computer using built-in or third-party software, here I’ll show you all of them. You can pick one and follow the steps below.
Method 1: Delete all data from laptop hard drive permanently
The first method is the simplest and applies to all the Windows system, including Windows 10/8.1/8/7//XP/Vista, that is, using third-party data erasing tool - AOMEI Backupper Professional. You can upgrade it from AOMEI Backupper Standard with a discount. It allows you to write zeros to hard drive (also called low level format), specific partitions, or unallocated space per your needs. And it is enough to completely clear a hard drive.
1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Professional, go to Tools > Disk Wipe and click it.
2. In the wiping type window, select Wipe disk to delete all data from laptop hard drive permanently. Then, click Next.
- Selected partitions & unallocated space on the disk: This option is to delete the selected partition(s) or unallocated space.
- Wipe disk: This option will delete all the partitions on the hard drive and fill every sectors with zero.
3. Select the laptop hard drive you want to wipe and click Next.
4. In the wiping method window, select Fill sectors with zero and click Start.
- If you want to wipe hard drive more thoroughly, you can choose the latter three wiping methods: fill sectors with random data, DoD 52220.22-M, Gutmann. Among them, the latter two options wipe the disk very thoroughly, even up to 35 passes.
- If you are wiping system disk of the current computer, this software will create Windows PE environment automatically and restart your computer to complete this task. Please don’t stop it during the process.
- If you have any further question, you could click the Help icon or contact us via [email protected].
Method 2: Delete everything on your computer in Windows 10/8.1/8
Here you will use “Reset this PC” in Windows 10 to wipe a computer clean to sell it. It has an option called “Data erasure”, which has the ability to remove files and clean hard drive. Please remember to tick it during the process. Windows 8.1/8 also has a similar feature and you can find it in the Recovery section.
1. Click “Start” > “Settings” > “Update & Security” > “Recovery”.
2. Scroll down to find the option “Reset this PC” and click “Get started”.
3. Then, your computer will restart to recovery environment, select “Remove everything” in the “Choose an option” window.
4. In the “Additional settings” window, click “Change settings”.
5. In the “Choose settings” windows, click the slide button “On” to enable Data erasure. It makes the data on your hard drive difficult to recover. Then, click “Confirm” and “Next”.
Note: If you connect external hard drive to your computer, you will see “Data drives” option. It just means your computer has multiple drives, please disconnect it and try again.
6. In the “Ready to reset this PC” windows, click “Reset” to clean your computer.
Method 3: Clear laptop before selling Windows 7
Here you will use another third-party tool - DBAN to erase hard drive, it’s one of the most popular software. But it’s said that the compatibility of this software is in decline and it hasn’t been updated in years.
1. Download DBAN ISO image file from its official site. Please remember to burn it to CD/DVD before using it. Note that it requires a special program that can unpack ISO and burn it properly.
Note: To be safe, you need to remove all the device you don’t want to erase.
2. Boot from the CD/DVD. Then, you will see the blue DBAN screen, press Enter to start DBAN in interactive mode.
Note: The autonuke option will erase all the drives on the computer.
3. In the Disks and partitions section, you will see one hard drive and several options at bottom. Type "M" to learn about the disk wiping method.
4. In the Wipe Method section, press "J" or "K" to scroll up or down and learn about the disk wipe methods. After that, select the method you want to use and press the "Space" key to confirm.
5. Select the drive you want to erase and press the "Space" key to confirm. Then, you will see a “wipe” word at the beginning of the selected box.
6. Press 10 to start the erasure process, please wait until you see the green words “DBAN succeeded”. The erasing time depends on how large the drive is.
How to reinstall Windows 10 before selling
After wiping disk, you still need to reinstall Windows 10 or other operating systems, so you can easily sell it out. To reinstall Windows, please follow the steps below:
1. Create an installation disc with Media creation tool.
2. Set boot priority for the installation disc and boot your computer from it.
3. In the initial Windows Setup window, select your preferences settings and click Next.
4. Click Install Now.
5. Click I don't have a product key and Next. Be sure the operating system you will install is the same as before.
6. Select the operating system and click Next.
7. Select Windows 10 installation type: Custom.
8. Now, you are in the final Windows Setup window, select the unallocated space for reinstall and click Next.
The way forward
Erasing laptop hard drive before selling it is a necessary step to avoid privacy leakage, so please remember to do this. You have three methods, but the first one is the easiest one and most compatible. And it has more useful features, such as, system backup, scheduled backup, incremental/differential backup, disk clone, system clone, etc.
In addition, please remember to backup files to external hard drive in case there are something you ignore. Also, if the drive you want to erase is an SSD, you need to encrypt SSD to ensure the data on it cannot be recovered.