An overriding consideration in any move of equipment must be to ensure that any University data on the machine, and any software licensed to the University, is removed. It is, of course, vital to satisfy the requirements of the Data Protection Act, but it must also be understood that any University data that is discovered by a later owner may cause controversy, adverse publicity, etc.
Ensuring adequate destruction of data is the responsibility of the unit that owns the equipment, and must not be delegated to any person outside the University without adequate contractual obligations being imposed.
To learn more about the University re-use scheme please contact the Environmental Sustainability team on email@example.com.
Before disposing of any computer system, it is vital to remove all traces of data files. Merely deleting the visible files is not sufficient to achieve this, since data recovery software could be used by a new owner to "undelete" such files. The disk-space previously used by deleted files needs to be overwritten with new, meaningless data - either some fixed pattern (e.g. binary zeroes) or random data. Similarly, reformatting the whole hard disk may not in itself prevent the recovery of old data as it is possible for disks to be "unformatted".
The most well-known tool for fully wiping old data files is the "Wipe Info" module of the Norton Utilities suite for PC and Macintosh systems. This will completely wipe the contents of any specified files, or the whole of the free space on the disk. However, this approach still assumes that you have located every file that needs to be taken care of, which may not always be easy.
A better approach is to reformat the hard disk, installing a clean copy of the original operating system, and then run Wipe Info on the free space. This should leave a machine in a suitable state for disposal.
Virtually every PC is bought with a licence for the operating system supplied with it. A machine can therefore be legitimately disposed of with a freshly installed copy of the same system. However, you should not install a later copy of the system software.