I thought it would be best to start thinking of this before the season got too far along. I admit it, my wife (at times) wishes she would never see another ‘old’ computer grace the doorstep of our home. You see, folks give them to me so they can be passed on to some other person that can use them. Let’s look at some things you need to think of when doing this wonderful deed.
Is the computer worth re-gifting? If your PC is over 5 years old, it may not be. Technology has been moving along at a pretty good clip, so your older PC’s may not be a great gift for some (but for others, they work wonderful as a print server or file server). So ask yourself if this is really something the grand-kids or kids will use. If not, perhaps recycling is a better option.
Should you erase the hard drive? Probably not – the operating system (OS) is what makes the PC function and the hard drive is where it has a home. The places you would take the PC probably don’t have the money to invest in purchasing and loading a fresh OS on the system, so if you want it reused erasing the data on the hard drive may not be the ticket. Granted, your data will be gone, but any value the machine had may be gone as well for an older PC.
Should you erase your data from the hard drive? Absolutely. This is different from erasing the entire hard drive, but sometimes it seems like the lines blur.
“Personal information” includes your Internet browser’s cache, cookies, history; your email contacts and messages; your documents; your recycle or trash folder; and all nontransferable software. The best way to clear this is with a disk-cleaning utility that overwrites all the sectors of your hard drives, making your data unrecoverable. Listed below are examples of recommended disk-cleaning utilities.
Commercial Windows Disk-Cleaning Software:
Freeware Windows Disk-Cleaning Software:
Macintosh Disk-Cleaning Software:
- Disk Utility (built-in in Mac OS X, under “Security Options”)
- WipeDrive for Mac
If the computer is still under a manufacturer’s warranty, you can also call the company’s technical services department and ask for specifics on how to delete personal files.
(an excerpt from Ten Tips for Donating a Computer)
To add to this, many computer manufactures make hidden partitions so you can restore your computer to the factory settings. This could be used to effectively remove your personal data – but I’d recommend you get rid of it yourself if at all possible. That way it won’t be in someones hands down the road who may use it for less than noble purposes.
Lastly, don’t forget any disks / software and other items needed to make the computer useful (keyboard, mouse and monitor come to mind here…). It gives you the opportunity to clean out some clutter as well as the needed disks in the event the person using the PC ever needs them.
I don’t mind PC’s coming to my house because I can spruce them up and find a home for them (many times it is to a local organization here that places them in homes of kids who can’t afford a PC yet need the ability to get online and the skills that come with using a PC to better position themselves in today’s job market). But what if you aren’t near me? Here’s a thought – RECYCLE!
You can start on that quest by reviewing the page Where Can I Donate or Recycle My Old Computer and Other Electronic Products? This is part of the US EPA’s web site and offers you some national options for recycling. There are also some manufacturer’s options (Dell, HP and others have them) that could help you, or you may have some local shops in your area that do this as well. Search and help others – while helping yourself get rid of unwanted clutter.
As always, thanks for reading. If you have ideas or locations for eCycling, feel free to leave a comment. God Bless you and your family this joyous Christmas season!
It’s the season of giving again. And all the techie folks want techie stuff! And it is a good season to find lots of bargains, so let’s talk about how to find the best gear for your hard earned money.
Before we get to all that Black Friday sales and good findings, ask yourself a question (especially if you are buying this for yourself, but it is just as important to ask the question if you are purchasing the gear for someone else) – what is this going to be used for? It sounds like a silly question, but if all you will be doing is ripping / purchasing music for your iPod, surfing the web and reading composing e-mail, do you REALLY need the top of the line processor, video card and maxed out memory gaming laptop? Probably not…
So how do you know what to shop for? Well, once you know what you are using the gear for, that should make your shopping a bit easier! If you are gaming, you will need some beefier gear than the casual computer user (same goes for those doing heavy graphics work, animation, CAD work, video editing and other processor / memory / hardware intense programs). For those just surfing the web and working with word processing, you can probably do with a very capable machine for many dollars less than that top of the line option.
OK, so we figured out what we want to do with our machine. Where can I find a good deal on one? One of the often overlooked areas is Consumer Reports. I bring that up because they offer good information on various models, and the latest issue has a slew of ratings on the latest Desktops, Notebooks and Netbooks. I would recommend looking this over for sure.
If you know what you have been hunting for, or are working in a tight budget bracket, the site I would highly recommend is TechBargains. They allow you to see the latest sales and coupons for Dell, HP and other manufacturers as well as allow you to see the best bargains for NewEgg, Buy.com and loads of other sites.
Finally, don’t forget about the sites that have been around and continue to offer great bargains on gear. TigerDirect, CompUSA, CircuitCity, Amazon and many others just can’t be beat for deals and convenience.
I hope you have a great shopping season and give gifts that are cost-effective as well as useful. Take care!
You bought (or received) a new computer, but it’s been a bit of time now and you may be experiencing some strange things. Things such as quirks with icons in the system tray, battery readings that are off (but the battery is fine), and various hardware not functioning as well as it should or could. What could be going on?
I had written earlier about upgrading firmware. Another area for you to review is flash your BIOS. This is important because … well, it’s the only way to upgrade this area of your equipment. And this is an important area!
The BIOS is boot firmware, designed to be the first code run by a PC when powered on. The initial function of the BIOS is to identify, test, and initialize system devices such as the video display card, hard disk, floppy disk and other hardware. (from Wikipedia)
So, the first area of code run is by the BIOS, and it identifies, test and starts up system devices. Upgrading your BIOS will allow hardware a better interface with your system and take full advantage of software capabilities. Well, perhaps that is why this can help when upgrading your machine’s capability!
Even if your machine is pretty new, you may need to look for updates to your BIOS. Why? Well, much of the software world is written to take over from these basic commands the BIOS stores to get the machine up and running, but there are still areas where good information from the BIOS isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s really a large impact on the hardware / software performance on the machine.
Of course, you’ll need to find out what BIOS is in your machine and how to flash it for the update. Some manufacturers (like Dell) have all your machine’s drivers and updates available on their website (just by entering the service tag number you can get all of that information). In other instances you will need to find out all the information yourself, or use something like Wim’s BIOS page.
I hope this gives you a bit more information on BIOS and what it does (and why you need to update yours). Take care!
I have had many occasions to ask customers to make sure they are either connected to their home network. And I have found out many may not know how to do that – so here’s a post for you. Using the ipconfig commands (from your command prompt) you can find out many things about your connection (your IP address, MAC address, etc.). Let’s look at using this.
First, if you want details – I’d rather not reinvent the wheel. So, below you will find detailed information for your review.
In a nutshell, open up a command prompt window. To do this, go to Start | Run in Windows XP (or, in Vista, go to Start and type in cmd in the search area and hit enter to make cmd.exe open up). Once there you will have a black screen with a blinking cursor. Type in:
Then hit enter. Below is a representation of what you will see.
Next we want to release your IP address. To do this, type:
That should give you an IP address of 0.0.0.0, or in Vista it will return blank information and the note that your media is disconnected. The next step I take is to flush the DNS cache. To do this you type:
The results should be similar to those shown below.
Once this is done, you would want to type:
This requests an IP address from your router (or other device), and the resulting screen should give you the information as shown in the first graphic (but it may have different numbers in the IP address).
I have found this to be a great way to begin to troubleshoot connectivity issues. If you are receiving a 169.254.x.x address, this is a Windows address that generally means your network connection is not working properly.
I hope this helps you in your troubleshooting. There are many more things you can do with ipconfig. If interested, in the command prompt you can learn more about this command by typing:
Below is what you will get (and note, you can do that for any of your commands, just type in the command and then a space and /? and you will get all the options available).
Take care, and thanks for reading!