After getting a new computer, people usually tend to sell the old device if they no longer find a use for it to recoup some of the cost. However, preparing the older machine for sale can sometimes be somewhat scary as you've probably used it for a long time, and it's filled with your personal data.

In addition, you always want to make sure that the device you're no longer using is running correctly without errors to get the most money and avoid problems selling it.

If you're planning to get rid of an old PC because you already bought a new one, or you want to get some cash for a new premium device (for example, for a Surface Book 2, Surface Laptop, or Dell XPS 13), you need to make sure to create a backup, erase your files, reinstall Windows 10 (or Windows 8.1), and then pick the right way to sell it.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the process to properly get your laptop, tablet, or desktop PC ready to sell it without giving away your personal information, whether it's running Windows 10 or Windows 8.1.

Things you need to do before selling your old PC

Backup your old PC

If you're planning to get some cash out of your device, the first thing you want to do is to create a full backup of your entire system. This is an essential step to make a copy of your files and to have a way to recover if something goes wrong, or you end up not selling your device, and you want to go back to your previous settings.

Always backup first!

While there are many third-party backup solutions, Windows 10 includes the System Image Backup utility that has been around since Windows 7, and it allows you to create an exact copy of everything that is on your device, including Windows installation files, apps, settings, and personal files.

If you're not sure about this feature, you can use our guide that walks you through step-by-step to create a full backup of your PC. (The instructions to create a backup also work on Windows 8.1.)

It's also recommended to copy your files to an external storage. This will make things easier to move your documents and pictures to your new PC.

OneDrive can be a great solution to move your personal files to a new device. If you're already using the service, your files are already backed up in the cloud, and just configuring the client on the new device will make file transfer a smooth process.

Important: It's also a good idea to have handy the proper licensing to install your applications again onto the new device (if applicable), and ensure that you save your passwords, this way, later on, you can sign back into the websites you frequently use.

Secure erase everything on your PC

The next step involves resetting your system to its default settings to allow the next owner to set up their new device, and for you to keep your data and information safe.

Reset your Windows 10 PC

On Windows 10, using the "Reset This PC" feature, you can securely erase everything on your PC, including installation files, settings, apps, and personal files.

To reset your device, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Recovery.
  4. Under "Reset this PC," click the Get started button.

  5. Click the Remove everything option.

  6. Click the Remove files and clean the drive option.

  7. Click the Reset button.

After completing the steps, everything will be deleted, and Windows 10 will reinstall with the default settings. When it's time to go through the out-of-box experience (OOBE), you can just power off the machine and package it nicely for selling.

Windows 10 OOBE beginning

Reset your Windows 8.1 PC

On Windows 8.1, you can also use the recovery feature to securely erase everything on your PC. However, unlike Windows 10, you'll need to provide the recovery media to complete the process. Unless, of course, your device doesn't include a recovery partition previously configured by your hardware manufacturer.

To reset your Windows 8.1 laptop or desktop PC, insert the recovery media as required, and then follow these steps:

Quick Tip: If you don't have the necessary files, you can check your PC manufacturer website to download the recovery files and instructions. Alternatively, you can download the Windows 8.1 ISO with the files to reset your device directly from Microsoft.

  1. Open PC Settings.
  2. Click on Update and recovery.
  3. Click on Recovery.
  4. Under "Remove everything and reinstall Windows 10," click the Get started button.

  5. Click the Next button.

  6. Click the Fully clean the drive option to erase everything on your device and start fresh with a copy of Windows 8.1.

  7. Click the Reset button.

Once you've completed the steps, your computer will reset to its default settings. When it's time to go through the out-of-box experience (OOBE), you can simply turn it off and package it nicely for selling.

Windows 8.1 OOBE beginning

Sell your old PC

Up to this point, you've created a full backup, copied your personal files to an external storage, and you have securely reset your device to its factory default settings. The next and last step is to transform the old machine into cash.

Before putting your laptop, tablet, or desktop PC up for sale, you have to figure out how much money you can get out of it. The price always varies per device, demand, and condition.

If the computer you're trying to sell is a couple years old, it'll probably still available in major retailers. You can check the Microsoft Store, Amazon, and other online retailers, to see the current value of the product when it's brand new.

Then you want to check how much other people are asking for the same and equivalent product when is in used condition on sites like eBay. Research carefully and note the condition of the device and if they're offering free shipping.

Using your research information calculate the price and decide how you want to sell your device. If you don't know where to start, you can check our recommendations on the list below:

Important: Online services may not be available everywhere. Availability will depend on your geographical location.

Craigslist

Craigslist is perhaps one of the most popular services people use to sell almost anything locally. Start selling with this service is pretty straightforward, create an account, specify the product you're selling, upload photos to make it easier for people to see the product and its condition, set your price, and you're good to go.

Sell your PC on Craigslist

eBay

eBay is an online service that has been around for a long time, and it offers an auction-styled service to sell virtually anything, but you can always use the "buy now" feature to sell your desktop, laptop, or tablet more quickly.

Although using eBay, there are more chances to get rid of your device faster, as it's a service available internationally, but bear in mind that there are some fees involves using this service.

Sell your PC on eBay

Facebook Marketplace

A lot of people don't know this, but you can also use the Facebook Marketplace to sell your used desktop PC, laptop, tablet, or anything else. The service is free to use, and because it's integrated with the Facebook app, you can do everything from your phone, which many people may consider a much smoother process than other services.

Another good aspect of the Facebook Marketplace is that you can always check people profiles to make sure they're legit (but you still need to be careful about scammers).

Sell your PC on Facebook

Amazon

In addition to buying, you can also sell products on Amazon, and because this is a well-known online retailer, you're likely to get a lot of views increasing the chances of selling your used computer.

However, the caveat is that you'll need to pay fees to use Amazon, and you'll need to be ready to deal with returns.

Sell your PC on Amazon

Swappa

Swappa is yet another service that you can use to sell your used computer. Similar to other buy and sell online services, you can create an account and list the product, but something that sets Swappa apart is the ability to suggest the price you should sell your item. Also, to give customers more confidence to buy, items for sale must meet certain requirements.

The service is free to use, but you can pay a fee to boost the chances to sell your old device, and transactions go through PayPal, which means that there's a small fee involved.

Sell your PC on Swappa

Windows Central Marketplace

Windows Central also offers the ability to list your used computer for sale or trade. The only requirement is that you follow these guidelines as you post a new item.

Sell your PC on Windows Central

Additional selling tips

Before jumping into any of these online services, you should also consider trying to sell the device to someone you know. You may not get the same amount of money, but it could save you a lot of online hassles.

If you go with an online service to sell your computer, always make sure to compose a well-written description of the product with all the details of its condition to avoid misunderstandings.

When creating a listing, upload good quality photos that reflect the actual condition of the item, and don't forget to include pictures of the accessories and extras.

In addition, consider using a short headline that clearly describes the product. Whenever possible, offer free shipping, use proper packaging, and make sure to follow the shipping regulations in your region, especially when shipping devices with batteries.

Wrapping things up

Although there are some steps involved to prepare your old device for sale, it's not a complicated process. It just takes a little bit of time, which at the end will help you to prevent giving away your personal information, as well as possible hassles from whoever buys it from you.

If your laptop or desktop PC is running Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, remember that you can always upgrade your device to Windows 10 to increase the chances of a successful sale using a more capable OS.

And If you're selling a desktop PC or laptop with a CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive, don't forget to eject and remove any disc in the tray. Also, check the USB ports to make sure you're not leaving behind important files.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources: