DONATING AN OLD COMPUTER

freeraserWe heard from a reader who is donating his computer to the Salvation Army but wants to remove his personal stuff first. He didn’t mean deleting in the usual way, because that can be recovered. Skilled recovery experts can even resurrect data from a computer that’s been reformatted.

The most frequently recommended super erase tool is “Darik’s Boot and Nuke,” which is free at Dban.org. But we doubt that half the columnists who recommend it have actually tried it. This is not a piece of cake.

For one thing, you have to download a separate program that burns the downloaded file to CD or DVD first. We used “Burning Studio 6 Free” from Ashampoo.com to do that. But once you get that done, we have to say the Boot and Nuke program is too geeky for the average person. It’s too geeky for us.

Freeraser is both free and easy to use. It puts a special trashcan on your screen. Anything you drag into the trash is erased to military standards. So think before you dump.

When you install the program, you’re given a choice of the portable or standard version. If you install the portable version to a flash drive, you’ll still have the program after you donate your computer. We recommend you hit the “cancel” button when you have the opportunity to download all the extras, like free toolbars. These can really slow down your computer, change your start page and search engine and are tough to remove. 

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