Mac or PC — you need to completely erase your personal data from your device before passing it off.
If you’re planning on selling your laptop because you’ve upgraded to a newer model or are making a system switch (Apple’s new M2 chip sounds very exciting), you don’t want to hand over your device to the first guy to respond on Facebook Marketplace and call it a done deal.
While signing out of all your accounts and deleting your files may look like a clean slate from your end, you could still be turning over plenty of your personal data to a stranger if they have any sort of data recovery know-how. To truly protect yourself and your data, you’re going to want to completely factory reset your laptop.
We’re resetting a PC running Windows 11 in this guide. The steps are fairly similar for older versions of Windows, although some of the menus may exist in alternate locations. They’ll be very nearby though!
The very first thing you need to do is backup the files on your laptop that you’d like to save. There’s nothing worse than deleting everything on your device with reckless abandon only to remember those precious photos or important documents that you only had stored on its drive. There are three easy ways to ensure your data is backed-up properly:
Now that you have everything stored safely elsewhere, it’s time to erase everything you don’t need and reset the device to the factory settings.
The entire reset process could take a few hours, but once it’s done your files, accounts, settings, and apps will be completely wiped from the device and a new version of Windows 11 will be installed. Upon starting the computer up again, you should be met with an out-of-the-box set-up menu, which you can leave untouched for the next owner.
Wiping a MacBook takes no time at all. Because Apple has regularly upgraded security and privacy features with each model, more recently released laptops will be easier to erase.
Most methods for resetting a MacBook are going to give you plenty of reminders and opportunities to save your files before hitting the hard restart button, but it’s always good to double-check these things. Make sure everything you want to keep — photos, important documents, etc. — is all saved somewhere other than your laptop’s hard drive. There are a few easy ways to ensure everything is safe:
As we said, if you’re using a newer MacBook, this process is going to be a lot easier. If you’ve upgraded to macOS Monterey on a Mac with Apple silicon or a Mac with the Apple T2 Security Chip, follow the steps below and ignore what comes after.
Your Mac will restart once again and return to an out-of-the-box state. If you’re selling your MacBook or passing it off to someone else, leave it as-is so the next user can set the device up properly.
If you tried to find the menus above and couldn’t manage to on your MacBook, you’re probably using a slightly older model that doesn’t have these easy-reset features. No problem — you can still erase all traces of yourself from your MacBook. It’s going to take a little extra effort. Here are a few tasks you’ll need to complete manually after backing up your files:
Now it’s time to complete the reset of your MacBook.