Preparing an Old PC for Donation

by Fred Langa for Windows Secrets Newsletter

Preparing an Old PC for Donation

The 2013 House Call series starts with a trip to Florida and a day spent helping Windows Secrets reader Pam Newberry with her PC problems.

Coming from the Northeast, I found Sarasota refreshingly warm and green; but fixing Pam’s PCs was a challenge — multiple systems running various versions of Windows, each with different issues.

The Windows Secrets House Call series is an occasional project in which I visit readers’ homes or businesses and work with them to diagnose and cure real-life hardware and software problems. I then share what we learned in the Windows Secrets newsletter.

For a fuller explanation of House Calls and how it works, see the first article in the 2012 series: the April 12, 2012, Top Story, “House Call 2012: Fixing a sluggish PC.”

The trouble: Both hardware and software

Pam had five PCs needing help, but because House Call is a one-day visit, we selected two systems to work on. Part One of this House Call tackles preparing an old system for donation. Part Two, to follow in next week’s issue, covers upgrading a cranky, Vista-installed Dell system to Windows 8.

This week’s troublesome system was an old, XP-era Toshiba notebook with a dead video system. When the machine was powered on, its screen showed no illumination or activity of any kind. Connecting an external monitor produced the same results. The obvious diagnosis (which Pam had reached on her own) was a failure of the notebook’s on-the-motherboard video subsystem — rendering the Toshiba completely useless.

Rather than spend the money to rehabilitate an old notebook with a new motherboard, Pam had already decided to donate it to a local tech school, where it could be used for parts and/or teaching purposes. But first she needed to wipe the system’s hard drive, ensuring that none of her personal information would go out the door with the notebook.

The problem: How to wipe a hard drive when there’s no way to see what the system is doing. We rolled up our figurative sleeves and got to work.

Article continued here

This excerpt appears with permission from Windows Secrets Newsletter.

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5 thoughts on “Preparing an Old PC for Donation

  1. With a Microsoft OS and licensing terms, aren’t you supposed to wipe the drive clean regardless? If I understand correctly, the license is NOT transferable. So if you pass along a Microsoft machine, that means remove Microsoft correct? My question is, if you replace MS with an OpenGL OS, which OS will work on older no PAE hardware? Such as Compaq windows 98 machines?

  2. Quote,
    “And yes, you really can find this kit online for under $10! Search for the phrase SATA/PATA/IDE USB 2.0 Adapter, or see an example of a similar kit on Amazon.”

    $9.59 +$6.95 shipping + Tax At least its under $20, LOL

  3. Great article — I have exactly the same problem! Can you tell me if the other PC you connect the old hard drive to must be running the same OS (in this case, XP) or can I connect the hard drive from an XP laptop to a Windows 7 laptop? Also, I assume you access the data then as just another external drive? Clearly, I’m not a techie, but I’m trying! Hope you’ll respond. Thanks!

  4. I, too, have a cranky Vista infested Dell desktop. The Dell has enough machinery to run like a deer, but I think the Vista OS has it in a legtrap. I will look forward to your next article!

  5. The ccleaner screenshot shows the freespace, not the drive, being overwritten. Isn’t that used for making sure that deleted files can’t be recovered, rather than for deleting everything on the drive?

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