How to Prepare Your Laptop for Resale

For many of us, we don’t part with our electronics until they completely go kaput and die. But sometimes we get a chance to upgrade to a newer model while the old version still runs well. It’s always nice to have a backup computer, especially if you rely on them for work. But it’s also nice to put a little extra cash back into your pocket, and that’s probably why you’re considering selling your laptop.

But selling a laptop can be a little confusing and intimidating. After all, it contains a lot of personal information, from passwords to documents and everything in between. There may also be valuable downloads, like movies or games, stored on it. And let’s not forget the memories that might not be found anywhere else: photos and videos stored on your hard drive.

In short, if you want to sell your Macbook or PC, you need to make sure you hand off a “clean” product to the new owner. Here’s how to do it.

Back Up Your Computer

The easiest way to store all of your documents, photos, downloads, apps, etc. is to back up your computer. A back-up saves a snapshot of your laptop exactly as it is in this very moment. The back-up can be transferred to another device if needed because the entire purpose of a back-up is to save the essence of your computer even if its actual hardware fails.

If you have a Mac, the Time Machine app allows you to easily create a backup. On Windows, you’ll want to go to the Control Panel, then System and Maintenance, and finally Backup and Restore. Save the files to an external hard drive.

Log Out of Your Accounts

Log out of iTunes, iCloud and iMessage before you sell your Macbook and deauthorize the device from your account. On your PC, log out of OneDrive and any other cloud accounts, especially those that automatically launch on startup. This step is an extra precaution to take just in case these apps launch with your account when the new owner accesses them for the first time.

Reset Your Computer

The final step to take before selling your laptop is the most important: resetting the computer. On a Mac, erase the hard drive and then reinstall the operating system. On Windows, reset your PC using the “remove everything and reinstall Windows” option under Settings. Be careful not to confuse resetting with refreshing or restoring your PC.

Sell Your Laptop

Once your laptop has been returned to a clean slate, you can safely sell it or give it as a gift. If you ship it, take care to package it well and to consider taking out insurance. Remember to take the appropriate (and legally required) safety precautions when shipping a lithium battery as well. Best of luck!