How To Clean Computer Before Recycling

Congratulations! You’re about to recycle an old computer that would otherwise end up buried in a landfill for all of eternity. That latter option is heartbreaking, not only to the precious space that we have in landfills to begin with, but also to the Earth as a whole. So kudos to you for electing to do the honorable thing and choosing to recycle it! But, what is the process that you need to do first before submitting your computer for recycling? Reputable e-waste recycling companies always wipe hard drives of all data before taking the computer apart for recycling. But, it’s always a good idea to make sure that your devices are completely data-wiped before recycling them, we’ll cover ways to do this below.

How to Wipe a Windows Computer Before Recycling

Wiping Windows computers is a pretty simple affair, but before you get to the business of taking a squeegee to the hard drive, there are some things that you need to take care of first. If you have software that you plan to re-install on your new computer, you need to make sure that you have copies of serial numbers or product keys that you used in your initial installation of them. This will save you time as you won’t have to hunt for old receipts and contacting the software vendor for another copy of those keys or serials.

This next step is crucial and it may seem to be redundant, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t do this next step. Back up the files that you want from the soon-to-be-departed computer by either backing them up to an external hard drive, USB stick, or use a cloud-based backup, if need be. Once you’ve done these steps, you can then move on to the actual data wiping procedure.

All Windows versions are more or less similar in terms of data wipes. Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 all have the same road map to use in resetting the computer to factory settings. Even if you’re one of those old diehards still using Windows XP (!?!?), these instructions will work for you as well.

Go to the Start Menu and click on Settings and then go to the Recovery Menu located in the Update & Security section. When you select “reset this PC”, you should do a deep or thorough data erase. This data erase will be the longest setting data erase as this will take some time for the software to manually zero-out sectors on the hard drive. This ensures complete data erasure and virtually no chance for the data to be recovered, so make sure that you’ve done the earlier steps outlined to keep the data that you want and need!

How to Wipe a Mac Computer Before Recycling

If you have a Mac computer, the preliminary steps outlined above also apply here as you need to make sure that you have the files you want and the software information you need for reinstallation of software on the new Mac computer. Let’s take a deep dive into the Apple Computers process of data erasure! 

When you first start up the Mac, hold down the Shift, Option, Command, and R keys until the Apple logo appears on the screen. This will start the installation of the OS that initially came with your Mac computer. Apple keeps a copy of this OS within your hard drive no matter which OS you upgrade to during the life of your computer as this is Apple’s “factory reset” process, of sorts. 

Before factory OS reinstallation begins, The Utilities window will appear on your screen. You should open Disk Utility and erase the disk and then select MacOS Extended (Journaled) format and exit out of Disk Utility once the process is completed. You can go back into the Utilities window to select “Reinstall OSX” or “Reinstall MacOS” depending on how old the OS is. Apple switched to MacOS in recent years and stopped using the OSX name on their operating systems.

Recycling Process for Computers 

Computers are stripped of their circuit boards and those circuit boards are then stripped of their chips, capacitors, resistors, and other components located within as they can be used in other computers and electronics. Sometimes, the computer itself can be fixed up (if it’s a non-working computer) with parts sourced from other computers. These computers can then be either donated or re-sold as refurbished versions.

High Tech Recycling for Computer Recycling

High Tech Recycling is your one-stop shop for your computer recycling needs. High Tech Recycling can either accept your computers brought to us or we can come out and pick them up from you at no additional cost. If you have any questions about computer recycling, please contact us for more information today!



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