Prepare Devices for Disposal

When you sell or recycle an old computer, you need to take extra steps to remove all data from the hard drive to prevent unauthorized use of sensitive information on the drive.

Vulnerable Data

Even after you remove files, data remains on the hard drive. Among other things, it may include:

  • Your bank or investment account password.
  • Your credit card numbers.
  • Information in databases, spreadsheets, tax software, and more.
  • Data from research projects.

See Retiring Assets on the U-M Procurement Services website for links to policies, guidelines, and procedures for removing data when selling or disposing of university equipment.

Data Removal Tools

To ensure that you have completely removed all personal information, you can clean your hard drive with a data removal tool before disposing of it. This helps prevent identity theft. The commercial products listed have more features than the free or open source products, but they all work well at erasing a hard drive. This is not an exhaustive list; you may find other tools that work well. We recommend that you select the tool that best meets your needs at the lowest cost.

Additional Data Removal Resources by Operating System