10 Things to Do Before You Wipe Your Computer

Make the Computer Shine
You can use a special brush to get the dirt out of the keyboard or just give it a gentle shake and dust with a cloth. Hemera/Thinkstock

OK, by this point, you've taken care to ensure the security of your data. But while it might be clean on the inside, the buyer, assuming you have one, isn't going to like getting a machine that's covered with fingerprints and encrusted with pizza remnants.

So be considerate and give your old machine a good external cleaning, using a soft damp cloth and compressed air to get particles out from the crevices in your keyboard. If it's a desktop, you can also unscrew the door on the case and use the compressed air to clean out dust bunnies on the inside. For a laptop, carefully turn the machine upside down and gently shake out the crumbs and dust in the keyboard.

Finally, use a soft glasses cloth to wipe away smears and fingerprints from the screen. You'll feel better that you did [source: Asch].

Author's Note: 10 Things to Do Before You Wipe Your Computer

I've owned a lot of computers over the years, and naturally, like anyone else, I'm concerned about protecting my personal data from falling into the wrong hands. For a long time I've used add-on security programs to encrypt and password-protect sensitive files, which gives me a layer of protection even if I lose a laptop or have one stolen. I've never sold one of my old PCs to a stranger. Instead, I usually keep them around as backups, or else give them to my son or my wife to use. In most instances, they eventually wear out or become obsolete. What I then usually do is take out the hard drive, stick it on a shelf in my basement, and recycle the remaining parts. Someday I'll get around to disposing those drives, I promise.

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