Here are a couple of things that you can do to clean up your computer when you're either throwing it away or selling it off.

Reformat:

  1. Find your Windows Vista/XP Recovery Disk
  2. Boot to your CD-ROM
  3. Delete your current partition
  4. Choose to create a new partition
  5. Reformat your hard drive
  6. Reinstall the operating system
Wipe your Drive with Software

Drive-wiping software. Windows XP/Vista users should download freeware such as Eraser (www.heidi.ie/eraser), which will overwrite data—including file names—or even clear the names of all old files, The program uses Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) disk option. DBAN itself can also be downloaded from dban.sourceforge.net for free, and can be booted from a USB key.

  1. To run Eraser on a Windows PC, place a blank CD in your   
     CD/DVD drive, then open Eraser’s folder in the Start menu
     and “Create Boot Nuke Disk.”
  2. Boot to the CD and let the program run.

Shred it like there's no tomorrow

Use a hard-drive shredder. That’s because some forensic data miners can actually retrieve data from hard drives using “magnetic transmission” techniques that “look at magnetic fields on the drive itself, and can tell if something has been overwritten,” Paul explained. “The forensics experts can then recover the data.”

A company called Semshred (www.semshred.com) will shred your hard drive for you, starting at $7 per drive for up to 25 drives, although there is a $50 minimum charge.


Last resort: Hammer it

Finally if you're really scared shitless just slam it down on the ground with a hammer.