Secure Disposal of Computers and Devices

Last updated: February 2, 2024
Audience: All UW

Old desktops, laptops, and mobile and portable storage devices may contain UW information, such as personally identifiable information, cached login credentials, or other confidential data that can be compromised if the physical device is not disposed of securely.

If data and information are not deleted in the proper way prior to relinquishing custody of or sending the device to UW Surplus, then there is potential for a data breach. This bad situation could become worse if there is a delay in realizing that the device has been compromised.

Deleting data on computers and devices isn’t difficult, but it is not as simple as dragging all the files to the trash. Consult the links below to determine how to wipe data for various devices and operating systems.

Consult with your IT support person about your department’s policy on secure disposal of computers and devices, and follow recommended requirements or procedures for asset management and tracking.

What You Can Do

UW-Owned Computers and Devices

Follow the recommendations on the UW Facilities Preparing Items for Surplus web page.

Be sure to review and document the types of information that were stored on the device prior to surplussing, as well as the method used for deleting data.

Wiping Options and Tools

Ensure that information has been deleted if you surplus UW owned computers or devices or discard, recycle, donate, or sell your personal computer or device. Consider the following tools and resources to ensure that all data has been deleted:

  • How to erase a disk for Mac
  • Windows 11 (See “Reset Your PC” section, choose Remove Everything option)
  • Windows 10 (See “Reset Your PC” section, choose Remove Everything option)
  • Windows 8.1 (See “Reset Your PC” section, choose Remove Everything option)
  • For Windows 7, see Resources section below
  • Other erasure or wiping software like DBAN (any operating system)


Apple devices