Don’t sell your old Windows 10 PC before going through this checklist!
If you are one of those lucky few who got their tax filings done early and looking for a decent tax return, chances are you may also be reading this in one tab, while keeping an eye on your potential next brand new Windows 10 PC (or Apple Mac...), in another browser tab.
There is plenty of choice, so what will it be? A cool hybrid laptop/tablet like a Surface Pro? Or a fully decked-out Surface Studio... or, if you are savvy enough to know your way around PC hardware, perhaps a whole list of parts to build your own custom gaming rig or workstation!
A great way to go the extra mile on your new purchase, and get a few extra options, is to consider trading in, or selling your older Windows 10 PC. While that sounds easy enough, selling a used PC is not unlike selling your old car. The troubles always start after the sale, and they can be hefty, unless you take a few precautions.
No, a Windows 10 PC isn’t exactly like your 2005 Hyndai Elantra, but just like it, you have to go through it to make sure that nothing costly happens after the sale, especially identity theft.
Any computer, especially older ones with plenty of software that doesn’t necessarily live on the cloud, contains staggering amounts of personal information that can be dug out and used to trash your credit score, and net malicious people a solid profit on the Dark Web.
Virtually any software that saves files locally can turn against you, which is why more and more major software companies, such as Adobe, Autodesk and Intuit, have already moved on to cloud-ready versions of their signature products, requiring customers to sign in with online subscriptions, which saves all of their customers data online, instead of local hard drives.
This is great, because, first of all, companies are willing to accept responsibility for the safety of their customers information, and secondly, customers no longer need to go through complex and painful software installations on their computers. The whole process, in the majority of cases, is performed by a centralized cloud installer application that takes care of everything, and saves no personal data on the host computer.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of older computers with older software, and that includes Windows 10 PCs, as Windows 10 has been around long enough to be present on computers dating as far back as 2015.
Step 1: backup all your stuff
If you have anything that you can’t let go of, the first step is to safe all of your files on an external hard drive, or even better, in a cloud drive, like Google Drive or OneDrive. Both are excellent options, and cost roughly the same, at around $10-$20 per month for a Terabyte of storage. Plenty to save anything that’s on your old PC, including the operating system’s files.
Of course, manually transferring the entire content of your PC onto an external drive can be tedious, which is why Windows 10 has a built-in backup system that will save everything onto the target location of your choice, in one smooth sweep.
To backup your files in Windows 10, access Cortana by pressing Win+C, or simply click on the Cortana button on the taskbar, and type, or say “Backup”. This will present you with a few choices, including a direct link to the Backup tab into the Settings app, which is where you want to go.
Once you have your backup tab open in Settings, you will see a plus [+] button next to “Add a drive”. This is a good time to get an external hard drive with at least 1TB of storage, and plug it into your PC.
Once the drive is detected, you will be able to start your backup right away.
Step 2: clean house
Your old computer is all backed up, so here comes the fun part. Clearing your Windows 10 PC is easy, thanks to another built-in feature designed for this specific purpose, which can be fund in the Settings app, under “Recovery”.
There are two ways to accomplish total cleanup of your system to a perfect factory state: the fast, easy way, and the techie way.
Microsoft has conveniently ranked the former and latter, to make it easy for the uninitiated to find their way to the easy way first.
Under Recovery, you will find these two options, labeled “Get Started”, and “Advanced Startup”.
“Get Started” is a quick path to resetting your PC to factory, by selecting just a few options, culminating in a nearly-automated process that will result in a completely brand new Windows 10 installation. No backups of your old operating system will be saved, and all files will be deleted.
“Advanced Startup” requires a bit more understanding of computers, as it involves going through a complex set of options that can only be accessed by restarting your PC in an “Advanced Mode”. This mode allows to do a number of things, including formatting your hard drive to ensure that no information will remain after the sale of your PC.
Step 3 (optional): keeping your dang hard drive!
Well, sometimes you want to go the extra mile to be careful, and removing your hard drive, if that is a possibility, is a good way to ensure that no one tries to revive old skeletons in your digital closet.
Of course this isn’t always possible, especially when it comes to devices that do not allow the user to take them apart without breaking them, such as Windows 10 tablets and other mobile devices, but in most cases, laptops and desktops offer a moderately safe and clear path to disconnecting and gathering your old hard drive, which can be later connected to a new device, either internally, or externally via an adapter.
Step 4: pre-sale housekeeping
The great thing about Windows 10 is that it’s compatible with a ton of hardware, which makes the process of installing drives completely automated, unless you have something really exotic attached to your PC, in which case, it’s considered good manners to ensure that drivers are up to date.
For instance, if you are selling a VR-ready laptop alongside your headset and tracking sensors, it’s a good thing to setup everything beforehand. This also helps show the potential customer that everything is in working order.
Ready to shop?
PortableOne has the best deals on Windows 10 Pro laptops, featuring the latest hardware-based security features, and full BitLocker encryption to protect your files from prying eyes.