4 Ways to Remove Personal Data from Your Old Windows PC

This is part of a new weekly series featuring content written by the Lenovo Companion App Content Team

Getting a new Lenovo system is exciting, but it does create a couple of challenges: what to do with your old PC and, more importantly, how to purge it of personal data.

Whether you opt to donate, trade in, recycle or gift it to a friend or family member, you’ll need to delete your data for good. This is extremely important!

The challenge is getting everything 100% removed. Simply deleting your files, folders and apps and emptying the recycle bin won’t do the trick. This just hides your files from the operating system until they’re overwritten, so even a dependable friend could unknowingly put your personal information in the hands of a hacker. You’ll need a much deeper clean.

Here are four steps you can take to completely erase everything on your old PC:

1. First, back it all up

This initial step may be a given, but you should first store important files and memories  in a second, safe location. If you haven’t taken this step, or if it’s been awhile since you checked, make sure everything is copied over to an external hard drive or online backup service as you transfer files and folders to your new Lenovo system.

2. Find a good trade-in program to properly purge data for you

Some companies have trade-in programs that will help ensure personal data is removed. When you trade-in with Lenovo, for example, we’ll be sure your old PC is wiped 100% clean of personal data before it ends up in the hands of other consumers. When selecting one of these programs, verify that the company is reliable and trustworthy before sending in your old system.

3. Re-install Windows

The easiest way to be sure you’re thoroughly clearing out your PC is to remove all data and re-install Windows to factory-level settings. It’s a good idea to take this step even if you’re trading in. Just keep in mind you will be removing all personal files, including apps you’ve installed and any information you stored within them, so do this only after you’ve completed step one above:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen
  2. Go to Settings, then Change PC settings
  3. Tap or click Update and recovery, then Recovery
  4. Under Remove everything and re-install Windows, tap or click Get started and follow the instructions

You'll be asked whether you want to erase data “quickly” or “thoroughly.” Choosing “quickly” could leave some personal info vulnerable to identity thieves with special tools that can be used to dig out hidden data. Selecting “thoroughly” will take longer but makes it significantly tougher for any of your data to be recoverable.

4. Use a program to permanently delete items

Following the above steps should go a long way in protecting everything you had stored on your old PC, but if you’d like to take an extra measure of precaution you can also use a disc-wiping program. Tools like McAfee Shredder™ will permanently delete and overwrite items you no longer need to ensure the information can't be recovered.

Lenovo Companion—Your New Go-To App

If you like reading this type of content, make sure to check out the Lenovo Companion app that is preloaded on all Windows 8 and 8.1 Lenovo and Think systems.You can find it on your system in the Lenovo Apps section on the Windows Start Screen.

Lenovo Companion is filled with exclusive content to help you learn about your new Lenovo or Think system. You'll find quick-reference “how to” articles on everything from getting to know the preloaded apps on your system to how to use your new trackpad. And, in select countries, you'll be able to stay up-to-date on technology news with articles and blogs from trusted sources, partners and Lenovo Insider bloggers. 

Be sure to note...the new version of Lenovo Companion is only available on Windows 8.1. So, if you’re running Windows 8 or an older version of Windows, now is the time to upgrade. Continue reading more about Lenovo Companion in this blog post

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