Ready to Sell Your Laptop? Security Measures First

February 18, 2020 - Electronics

How to Wipe Data Before You Sell Your Laptop

In 2016, about 15 million consumers were impacted by identity theft.

In this digital age, it’s becoming more and more crucial to protect your information. When getting ready to sell your laptop, you should be aware of how much of your information is on it. Passwords, credit card numbers, addresses can all be stolen from your device.

To learn how to wipe all of your data from your laptop before you sell it, read on.

Back It Up

Before you sell your laptop, you’ll want to make sure that you put all of your information elsewhere. You’ll have to delete all of your information off of it.

Depending on what kind of computer you have this process will go differently.

If you like having a physical copy of your information, then you might want to invest in an external hard drive. These things exist solely for storing information on them.

For PC

You’ll want to navigate to your control panel under your start button on your computer. You’ll then want to click on the System and Maintenance button. Then the option to backup and restore your computer should show up.

For Mac

After your external hard drive is plugged in, you’ll want to select the Time Machine feature on your mac. You can also use the iCloud features.

Deauthorize Your Laptop

Next, after you have preserved all of your important information, you’ll want to take the steps to deauthorize your laptop. This absolutely needs to be done because if you give away your computer before it’s deauthorized it will be extremely difficult to explain to the company authorizing it.

Having an authorized laptop usually is something that comes along with certain online games or music apps like iTunes. When you pay for a membership, the company only allows you to have access to your account through a certain number of devices. This is to restrict you from sharing your account with people.


To deauthorize you’ll want to open up iTunes. Click on the account button. Then hover over the authorize tab and then the option will appear to deauthorize your computer.

Deauthorizing your device is something you’ll want to do for apps like Adobe Creative Suite, Dropbox, iCloud, and the Kindle App.

Take It to Its Company Store

Before you give your laptop away take it to your company store or the store you originally bought it from. Different brands offer different things to those looking to give up their devices. Since throwing a laptop away can mean treating the dangerous substances inside of it irresponsibly, many companies offer different things to avoid it.

Microsoft stores help users in clearing their laptop of all of their data. This is a great option if you want to sell but don’t have the time to prepare the laptop yourself.

Apple offers money for devices that still carry a monetary value.

Decide to Keep or Replace the Hard Drive

One of the choices you will be forced to make when deciding to sell your laptop is what to do with your hard drive. If you don’t have time to back up your hard drive or are really worried about leaving any data on it, then you may just want to keep it.

Many people swear this is the only way that your data will be fully protected. In the case where you will be replacing the hard drive with a newer one, you’ll be given the option to destroy the hard drive.

This can be a good option if you’re not planning to use it again, or if it’s too slow to run on any other laptop. To destroy the hard drive you’ll want to either override it or physically destroy it.

Overriding it means overriding it with so much data that no one will be able to identify yours as the originals. To physically destroy the hard drive consider smashing the disk or even in some cases destroying it with acid.

Clear the Hard Drive Before You Sell Your Laptop

Finally, after getting your laptop ready, you’ll clear your hard drive. This process looks different for different computers.

Microsoft 10

You’ll want to open the START menu and select the “Settings” option. In the window that opens up, you’ll want to press the “Update & Security” option. Next click on “Recovery”, then “Get Started”.

You’ll then get two options either to keep your files or to remove everything. After you make your decisions you’ll just follow the further directions.


For a Mac laptop, you’ll want to hold down the Command and”R” button at the same time after restarting your computer. A Mac Utilities window will then open up. You’ll want to click on Disk Utility.

The click Continue. Find your Startup Disk and select it and then click the Erase button. Under the Format menu, select your MAC OS again. Click on GUID Partition Map next to the Scheme menu and click Erase.

After the process is complete select to Quit Disk Utility.

Use a Disk Wiping Program

To ensure that your hard drive is completely wiped out before you sell your laptop consider using a disk wiping program. Choose one approved by the U.S Department of Defense.

These programs may overwrite your hard drive with code to cover up your data and disguise it with the other information being programmed into it. This is a process that the department calls “media sanitation”

It can also be done on other electronic devices such as tablets or phones.

Reinstall the Operating System

After your hard drive is completely wiped out, you’ll want to reinstall the original operating system. This will help make sure the computer is like new for its next user.


For Mac laptops, you’ll want to reinstall MAC OS X. This you’ll be able to do with only the computer. You’ll access MAC OS X from the computer’s App store. All you’ll have to do to access it’s to log onto your account in the App store.

Windows 10

Before wiping your computer, you should link your Windows 10 product to your Microsoft account. After it’s wiped and restarted, you will log into your Microsoft account on your computer.

Then go to Settings and click on Update & Security and then Activation. After you reinstall the operating system, your computer will be like new!

More Advice on How to Sell Electronics

Cleaning up your old laptop can be a tedious process. But this is just a way you can make sure your electronic is in top condition. And it will help you get the best price for it.

For more information on selling your electronics, check out this blog post.

David Stiebel
David Stiebel

David Stiebel is one of the cofounders of PawnGuru. David was educated at MIT, where he studied Math. He subsequently worked at Bain as a data scientist before starting PawnGuru in 2015. He started PawnGuru to build a better tool for pawn shops and consumers to connect.

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