PC PAL Team

PC PAL Team

PC PAL is the UK's award winning Computer, Laptop, Mac & Smartphone support specialists, with experienced, qualified & local Computer Engineers based in your area. We are a name that local people have come to recognise and trust. Please take a moment to read our feedback from our loyal customers, or find your local PC PAL Engineer.
Newsletters 21st April 2016 1772

Welcome to the PC PAL Newsletter - March 2016

new_desktopsThis month, we are dedicating our newsletter to inform our customers (and their colleagues, friends & family of course!) about re-homing and recycling old computers.

As a computer engineer, I still have nearly every computer I have ever purchased (plus a big box of bits & bobs collected over many years)! However, you may be thinking of buying new computer equipment and be wondering what to do with that old bulky kit, which whilst probably holding little sentimental value, may be a fully functioning computer (albeit a little slower and less shiny compared to newer models). Many customers find themselves in this situation and often ask us what steps to take when re-homing or recycling their old computers.
There are two main options in this scenario: re-homing or recycling the old computer. But first a very important warning: remember that your old equipment might still have your data and confidential personal files on it. This data can be accessed even if the computer is broken or won’t switch on. That may be useful to know if you want to transfer it to your newer computer, but it still leaves the question about data security unanswered. You could indeed delete your older data from the surplus computer, but that does not necessary solve this problem, as I will explain in this newsletter.
On behalf of our entire PC PAL network, we hope you find this newsletter interesting and informative and if you would like to satisfy your need for more tech news please look no further than our blog: www.pcpal.co.uk/blog

Things to consider when recycling or re-homing your old computer

Tip 1: The ‘Recycle bin’ in Windows doesn’t delete anything.

HDD-insidesMost customers aren’t aware that deleted data never actually gets deleted. The computer may overwrite the ‘deleted data’ at some point in the future but it very rarely gets completely and permanently deleted. Even after emptying the recycle bin your old computer could still have massive amounts of data including pictures, documents, emails and saved passwords.

Why is that? Surprisingly this is by design and is a feature in today’s computers. Why computers work in this way is all about performance. Deleting data takes time which impacts on performance and the computer doesn’t need to delete the data so it saves the time and doesn’t. This leaves the computing power available for more immediate tasks.


To get a little more technical, your computer keeps an index page on where your data is stored on your hard drive and when you ask the computer to delete a file, the computer just deletes the index marker, which now marks that space as ‘free’ and ‘available’ to use (in other words eligible to be over-written). Your data is still there - it’s just that the computer has temporarily ‘lost’ it.


Specialist computer software can find this data but it is very time consuming and can be very expensive. This is the same type of software and techniques used by police during investigations into computer related crimes. 

Tip 2: Replace or remove your Hard Drive before selling your system.

replacing the hddIf you are thinking about selling your computer or giving it way, we would always recommend you remove and/or replace the hard drive and re-install Windows. You can then keep your hard drive with all your data on and there is no chance of anyone getting access to it.

Also the old computer will often feel like new again and may be faster for the new owner once a new hard drive and a fresh install of Windows has been completed.

Although it is possible to do yourself should you feel competent and brave enough to open up your computer, this type of service can normally be done by a qualified PC PAL engineer within an hour or so plus the cost of the new hard drive. This can also be done while a PC PAL engineer is transferring data to a newer machine to save on time and expense.

Depending on the size and type of hard drive, we recommend you talk directly to your nearest PC PAL engineer first with regards to pricing.

Tip 3: Reinstalling your Operating System for family member or friend.

windows-7-ReinstallThe previous option involved purchasing a new hard drive. However, there is another slightly cheaper option: reinstalling your operating system (usually Windows 7 or 8) back onto your existing hard drive.

This does have a security issue where data could potentially get accessed with specialised software. However if you are giving your system away to a family member or someone you trust, then this might be fine. Also if you don’t keep any sensitive data you may also consider this option.

Like the previous option, you may notice improved performance on the machine as there won’t be any unnecessary ‘bloatware’ (which is an industry term for the unnecessary and often free ‘bonus’ software provided and pre-installed by the computer manufacturer, but in reality has little value and can lead to slowing down the computer).

Again, it is possible to do this work yourself should you feel competent enough and have access to the necessary software, but this type of service can normally be done by a qualified PC PAL engineer within an hour or so plus. This can also be done while a PC PAL engineer is transferring data to a newer machine to save on time and expense.

Tip 4: Disposing your system

Ramdom-PC-ComponentsIf you think your system is too old or if it has completely given up the ghost and is deemed uneconomical to repair, we would still strongly recommend you take the precaution of removing your hard drive (as your data will probably still be accessible without too much effort).


When visiting the local tip, we often see computers dumped in the ‘recycling’ skips with their hard drives still visible and attached to their computers. Although these old computers are in the bay marked ‘Recycling’, this doesn’t actually mean that they will be crushed and the valuable metals extracted & repurposed by a giant machine in an automated process; but will often end up either being sold on to a third party company which specialised in this process and could even end up in another country (usually the less developed areas of the world) where the costs and regulations for recycling metals, plastics and toxic materials are less onerous/ enforced and expensive. These computers are then often dismantled by hand and equipment deemed usable will be sold on again or used to build new budget computers – or worse still obtained by unscrupulous individuals involved in identity theft and other criminal behaviour.


We always recommend you keep your hard drive as a backup but you can destroy it if you don’t want the clutter (with the help of a few careful blows from a suitable lump hammer in the right places!). After that we would recommend you dispose of your older system at your nearest accredited recycling centre. This way any precious metals can be extracted from the system and recycled, with the toxic and hazardous waste materials treated appropriately.

PC PAL Team

PC PAL is the UK's award winning Computer, Laptop, Mac & Smartphone support specialists, with experienced, qualified & local Computer Engineers based in your area. We are a name that local people have come to recognise and trust.

Please take a moment to read our feedback from our loyal customers, or find your local PC PAL Engineer.

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