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Erasing any existing data - laptops

Our laptops contain vast amounts of personal data, including banking details, logins and photos of our loved ones. Wiping any legacy data from them is essential to safeguarding your donors’ data privacy and protecting your reputation! We provide more information about this in the Terms of Engagement.

By the end of this step, you’ll be able to decide how to wipe legacy data from laptops. You’ll also understand the importance of ensuring that donors of Macbooks reset their devices - if they fail to do so, you’ll be unable to use them!


Key insights

  • Commercial partners

    Commercial restoration partners will wipe data as part of the restoration process but Macbooks must be factory reset first.

  • Managing it yourself

    Alternatively, you may choose to manage the process yourself. We recommend that laptop owners also log out of their accounts for their own peace of mind although you should always wipe donated laptops just in case.

    Wiping data from laptops requires some technical expertise. We’ve outlined the process below.

Ensuring the process is effective

Option 1. Managing the process yourself

Even if donors have factory reset donated laptops, we recommend you complete a data wiping process, just in case! You can use free open source software, such as Eraser and DBAN, to do this effectively. You will need IT expertise within your organisation or some techie volunteers to help with this step.


  • Free
  • Effective – can get the same outcome as a commercial provider


  • It requires individuals with high levels of IT skills to operate the software and ensure its effectiveness. If you do not have these, we would advise working with an IT professional
  • Owners of Macbooks must factory reset their devices prior to donation and log out of their Apple accounts 

Option 2. Working with a commercial partner

If you’re using a commercial partner to restore devices, they’ll include data wiping as part of their service. 

One of our charitable partners used Reconome who ensured GDPR compliance. Another partner raised funds through JustGiving to cover the costs of their commercial partner.  


  • Often included within a restoration package
  • Allows you to meet data privacy considerations with minimal hassle


  • Expensive per device cost
  • Owners of Macbooks must factory reset their devices prior to donation and log out of their Apple accounts

Things to think about

  • IT skills

    Wiping laptops needs a good level of IT knowledge. If you don’t have technical knowhow, it’s best to ask the experts.

  • Budget

    Outsourcing to a commercial partner comes at a cost, but this can be offset by monetising unsuitable machines. If budget’s an issue, free open source software can be used to wipe laptops, but check you have the right IT skills first.

  • Clear communications

    To maximise the number of devices which can be rehomed, you need to make sure that donors of Macbooks reset their devices before donating them!

  • Data privacy

    It is strongly recommended that you tell potential donors how you are going to wipe devices and ensure that you have measures in place to ensure compliance. Don’t forget to refer to the example Terms of Engagement.

Next Step

Erasing any existing data - smartphones and tablets

Just like laptops, our smartphones and tablets are awash with personal data.

To protect donors, you need to ensure that their data is erased before their devices are rehomed.


Ready to get started?

If you’re interested in setting up a Reboot project, why not download the full Reboot playbook? Regardless of your budget and IT skills, it will help you develop a well-structured Reboot process and maximise your donations!