No, I don't need it.
Well I mean, if it's something really cool like a Mac Book Air, or a Thinkpad Yoga or something like that I could easily find a home for it here, but that's not what I'm getting at.
So you had a computer for a while. I don't mean a tablet. Tablets are their own weird problem.
A Laptop or Desktop Windows PC. For sake of discussion.
And this is not meant to be comprehensive. There are too many different vendors of computers, there are Macs, there are different places to keep the "original discs".. you get the picture.
If you really need someone to hold your hand while doing this, you may want to consider finding someone nearby. I've done this a number of times, and it is safe to do, but I am in South Florida and I have my own rates that I charge for this kind of service.
You used the old PC for years. I have a friend who had an old machine he just upgraded that he used for 10 years. He's lucky he could keep it going that long. But normally people use their main computer for 2 years or maybe 3.
You get used to its quirks, it's current operating system, it's way of storing files, its noisy fan, that sort of thing.
I keep hearing the story of people that take the hard drive out of the machine and throw it out, or they just roll it into the hall closet and try to forget about it.
Some homes have three or four computers that way.
No. Just stop. Someone else could use that machine anyway, especially if it is a Core 2 Duo or newer machine.
First of all, you need some of those files. They're typically under a few specific spots.
Open your File Manager: Start, "This PC" on Windows 8/8.1 or "My Computer" under Windows 7.
I wish they'd stop renaming things, it doesn't help.
The things you normally need are in places that are listed: Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, and Pictures. If you are someone like me who goes and puts things in places that mean something to "ME", you will know where they are. I can't tell you where that is from here, you'll have to search for them yourself.
But Windows has for years kept things in specific folders where it wants you to save things. If you followed Windows' lead, then that does make life easier.
You will need to copy those folders off. Use an external hard drive, about $50, and copy the lot onto the drive. If you know how to share the computer and the hard drive across the network, you probably know more than what you'll get out of this article. At that point you can copy the folders across the network.
Yes, you are already on a network since you are most likely on wifi and reading this here. But hopefully you're at home.
At any rate, copy those files back onto the new machine in the same fashion and in the same folders. When you are done, delete them from the old computer.
Now, that doesn't necessarily "clean" the computer. What that did was to remove the pointer. What everyone is afraid of is someone getting the computer and grabbing the data that was on it before. The easiest way to fix that is to write over the data.
There's a middle step here that makes life easier. If you created the original "Install" DVDs or have a way to "Set the Computer Back To Factory Settings", do that now. Your computer will go back to the way it was when you first plugged it in. That doesn't clear out your empty space, but it does delete everything and makes it all fresh and new. It also is a one way trip and you can't go back. This is a bit of a shortcut since it makes space that needs to be cleared, and it also gets rid of your data.
Once you have done that, you need to clear all that extra space.
An automatic solution is one of those programs that writes "nulls" to the hard drive. There are quite a few of them and many are free.
This one, DP Shredder will simply delete files or folders, and there's a handy little button that will let it clear out the free space on the hard drive, including the space you just made by deleting files. He wrote the software correctly since it is a rare thing these days. It is portable and does not require an install. However it does come in a ".7z" extension which means that first you need a program to extract that. You can install the 7-Zip program which is free, and extract the DP_Shredder.exe to run the program.
Now that you ran DP Shredder, and that literally took hours I'm sure, your computer is cleared of your private data.
You can safely give the computer to the charity of your choice, the kid next door, or anyone you choose. Your old data is gone.