Cleaning Your Hard Drive before Selling Your Computer

Has your computer been working weird these past days and you’ve finally made the decision to trade it in or sell it? Don’t rush things up, computers before being sold need to be cleaned first.

Cleaning your machine’s hard drive means deleting each and every bit of data stored on it and then installing essential components (operating system and hardware drivers) back to make it work properly again. After doing so, it’s time to sell or trade it in for parts at your local computer store.

Preparing Your Machine for the Process

There are things you need to remember and prepare before cleaning or formatting your computer’s hard drive:

  • First, be sure to prepare backups for all the essential files you saved to your computer as well as the driver installers if it’s still saved on your hard disk. A flash drive or an external hard drive will make a good backup device.

  • Before performing a full disk format, you have to make sure you still have all the needed installers to restore your computer back to its working and operational state. The installer for the Operating System (OS) is the most important thing. Driver installers are available online anyway.

  • Prepare all product/license keys needed and make sure that your OS installer and other software have working license keys.
    If your computer has been with you for a year or so then taking it to an expert for hardware cleanup is essential to ensure that the components inside are free from dusts, and all parts (keyboard, DVD-ROM, SD slots, USB ports etc.) are working properly. You surely don’t want the buyer to return the item, right?

  • If you have the budget then it would be a good idea to let an expert do the format process and Operating System/driver re-installation especially if you’re not well versed with the process. This will avoid damages, but if you really want to do it on your own then follow the steps below.

The Cleaning Process

Cleaning your hard drive doesn’t take that much time, especially if you’re on Windows 7 or 8. If your previous version of Windows isn’t Windows 7/8 then it would be a good idea to purchase a DVD installer or prepare a bootable flash drive in order to initiate the format process.

The following items will take you to the step-by-step process of doing a disk cleanup/reformat through Windows 7 OS installation:

  1. Search for the make and model of your computer and be sure to take note of IDs, service tags, and other essential identification associated with the hardware and the computer. You can quickly do this by clicking the “Start” button, right clicking the “Computer” menu, and clicking “Properties.” Take note of all essential information on the window that appears.

  2. Take the disk that you’ll be using to install Windows 7. Be sure to locate the product key before initiating the cleanup/reformat/reinstallation process.

  3. If you haven’t made any changes to your machine since you bought it then you should locate the manufacturer’s website and learn how you can download necessary hardware drivers after the cleaning/reformat/reinstallation process is done.

  4. If changes were made prior to the format process then it is essential to locate the certain hardware driver changes and verify with the manufacturer’s site on how to install custom hardware drivers or any essential updates.

  5. You also have to download network driver for Windows 7 process and save it to a flashdrive just to be sure.

  6. You can also choose to print this instructional article if in case you only have one computer for you to have a quick guide.

  7. Finally, you should insert the installation disk to the DVD-Rom of your computer (for laptops/PC) or to the portable DVD-Rom connected to one of the USB ports if you have a netbook.

  8. Reboot/Restart your computer. Follow the steps to access the boot menu which is commonly done by pressing F12 on most portable computers.

  9. Be comfortable in using the arrow keys as well as the “Enter” key on your keyboard and select “Boot from CD/DVD” or any similar option.

  10. Wait while setup loads all necessary files. You will see the Windows starting screen. You will then be directed to the window that tells you to choose the Language, Time and the Keyboard/input method then click “Next” after choosing applicable options.

  11. Simply click “Install now” on the next screen.

  12. You will then be taken to the “Setup is starting” screen and the “License Agreement” will appear after few moments. Read it and accept the terms and move on by clicking “Next”.

  13. The next screen will ask you what type of installation you want. Since the purpose for this process is to cleanup your drive then you should select “Custom (advanced)” option.

  14. The following screen would ask you where you want to install Windows. You will also see the current partitions on your computer’s hard drive. Select each and click the “Delete” option.

  15. Once the screen only shows one partition labeled “Unallocated Space” that’s the time you should click “Next”.

  16. The computer will then execute all the automatic functions and components of the setup process (“Copying Windows files”, “Expanding Windows files”, “Installing features”). It’s also possible that the computer would reboot on itself at least once or twice before you see that Windows is “Installing Updates” but you should just leave it on itself. It’s also possible that you would see screens saying “Starting Windows”, “Completing Installation” and finally “Setup is preparing your computer for first use”. See the screenshots below.

  17. The next screen will prompt you to “Set Up Windows”. Type your desired User Name and the Computer Name for the computer (preferably something that would not show any ownership since the computer will be sold to a new owner).

  18. The next screen will require you to type a password. Be sure to enter something that’s easy to remember and write it down. The “password hint” is something that will help you remember your password, after entering the required information click “Next”.

  19. The page that follows will require you to enter the “Product Key for this version of Windows 7”, make sure that the “Automatic activate option” is selected and click “Next”.

  20. Once setup asks about automatically protecting your computer select “Use Recommended Settings” for updates to automatically install to the computer.

  21. The next step will finalize all Windows 7 settings and will take you to the new Windows 7 desktop.

  22. That’s it! You are now ready to sell your computer and the good thing is it looks like new and works fast compared to the last time you used it!

Make Sure You Clean!

Cleaning your hard drive is essential before selling your machine to a new owner. It not only adds value to the item but also protects you from file theft and unauthorized use of any other data stored on your hard drive. Remember to do these steps to ensure that you’re 100% protected from identity theft too!