Fast Forward's Help File
QWhat are my options for disposing of an old computer?
ALetting the old PC collect dust in a closet, basement or attic can be easy, but it deserves a better fate.
First, you need to wipe your data from the hard drive. In Windows, use the free Eraser (http:/
In Mac OS X 10.3 or newer, drag the contents of your home folder to the Trash, hit the Finder menu and select "Secure Empty Trash . . . " In OS X 10.1 or 10.2, download the free Permanent Eraser (http:/
If you'll sell or donate the machine, reload its original software. On most PCs, you do this by starting the computer off a special hard-drive partition; check the manual for instructions. On a Mac, boot from the system CD or DVD and select an "Erase and Install" option.
If you can't sell the computer or give it away through a site like Freecycle (http:/
Computers too old for further use should not be thrown out because they contain toxic chemicals. Vendors such as Apple (http:/
For other reuse and recycling options, see the Consumer Electronics Association's myGreenElectronics (http:/
Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Turn to Thursday's Business section or visit washingtonpost.com anytime for his Fast Forward column.