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E-WASTE: How to Erase Your Hard Drive Before Recycling

Need to recycle an old computer with a hard drive in it?

Your files aren’t necessarily lost forever just because you’ve removed them from your computer and emptied the Recycle Bin. It takes some extra work to ensure that all your files have been completely deleted from the computer’s hard drive before you recycle it.

In the Washington Post article Deleting files isn’t enough. Here’s how to properly erase hard drives, San Francisco technology writer Chris Velazco provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the computer’s operating system to securely erase the hard drive:

On a PC

Windows 8.1

  • Click the Settings icon, then click “Change PC Settings”
  • Click Update and recovery, followed by “Recovery”
  • Under the heading “Remove everything and reinstall Windows,” click “Get started”
  • When prompted, select the option “Fully clean the drive”

Windows 10

  • Click the Windows button in the bottom-left corner, then the gear-shaped Settings icon
  • Click Update & Security, then “Recovery” in the sidebar
  • Under “Reset this PC,” click “Get Started,” then “Remove Everything”
  • When you get to the “Additional Settings” screen, click “Change settings” and make sure the “Clean data” and “Delete files from all drives” options are enabled

Windows 11

  • Click the Windows button in the toolbar, then the gear-shaped Settings icon
  • Click on Windows Update. Then click Recovery and select the Reset PC option
  • Choose “Remove everything,” and click “Change settings” to make sure the “Clean data” option is enabled

On a Mac

  • Turn on (or restart) your Mac, and hold down the Command and R keys while it boots — this will bring your computer into Recovery Mode
  • Log into your account (if needed) and click Disk Utility
  • Select the hard drive you want to wipe and click the Erase button
  • Click Security Options and select how thoroughly you want the drive to be erased. Most people will be fine selecting the second option, which writes over all of your saved data twice

Read the rest of the article to discover how to erase the data on a hard drive inside a nonfunctioning computer.

Need to recycle your e-waste?

Home Team Hauling only uses legal and regulated facilities to recycle computers, printers, tablets, mobile phones, monitors and more.

Contact us for a free estimate.


Home Team Hauling is a locally owned, licensed, insured and professional corporation that provides impeccable customer service to residential and commercial businesses in Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, Concord, Lafayette, Contra Costa County and all surrounding areas. We specialize in the removal of unwanted furniture, general trash and junk, appliances, hot tubs, e-waste, mattresses and yard/construction debris. We guarantee that debris and junk will be delivered to a legal and regulated facility. Residential and Commercial cleanout services are also available. Visit us at and request a free estimate. Phone: 925-605-6663

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