SOURCE: support.com

April 29, 2008 14:19 ET

support.com Offers Tips to Reduce Security Risks for Pre-Owned Computer Buyers and Sellers in the San Francisco Bay Area

Growing Market for Used Technology Opens Generous Donors, Bargain Hunters Up to Risk

REDWOOD CITY, CA--(Marketwire - April 29, 2008) - Thinking of buying or selling a used computer, or donating an older machine to your favorite charity? You aren't alone -- according to a recent survey by support.com, a leader in remote technology support. 40% of broadband internet users have purchased or received a used computer and 55% have sold or given away a used computer..

Whether in the Green spirit of "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle," or as part of many households' financial belt-tightening, giving technology a new lease on life makes sense for a growing number of Americans. However, users on both ends of a used computer exchange can open themselves up to security threats, viruses, identity theft and more. The Computer Recycling Center, a full service re-use organization based in San Francisco, received nearly 103,000 computers last year and was only able to refurbish and reuse 61 percent due to improper preparation. The expert Solutions Engineers at support.com, a leader in remote PC support, offer these tips for consumers looking to buy or sell used technology.

What to Do Before Donating or Selling a Computer:

If you gave away a used wallet, you'd take out the money and credit cards first... yet, a study by Glamorgan University, the largest business school in Wales, found that more than half of the "clean" used hard drives purchased for their research contained personal information -- some of it very personal.

Deleting applications or documents using Microsoft Windows doesn't necessarily mean the files are really gone. The items you deleted only go away permanently if another application or document comes along later and writes on top of that storage location.

Follow these steps to delete your personal data before donating or selling a computer:

1) Enter your web browser application and delete all history, cookies, temp files, form data, etc.

2) Drag all your files to the Recycling Bin

3) Download a file shredding application by searching "File Shredder" and downloading a free one from a reputable website. Look for one that uses at least "Three Pass," if not "Seven Pass" shredding technology.

4) Shred your Recycling Bin

5) Shred "Unused Disk Space"

6) If you are looking to donate your old computer, make sure it goes to a reputable organization such as the Computer Recycling Center, Greencitizen.com or the local Goodwill.

What to Do Before Using a Pre-Owned Computer:

A used computer is, well, used. You don't know exactly where it has been -- what type of data was stored on the computer or what web sites were visited. The best time to secure and clean-up a used computer is right after you get it -- before your personal information gets loaded into the computer.

Follow these steps before you start using your "new" computer:

1)  Be sure to request the original program disks and unlock codes for any
    premium software programs your computer was sold with. You will need
    them if you ever need to re-install
2)  Follow steps 1-5 above to completely clean the computer of old data
3)  Secure the computer before you connect it to your home network.
    At minimum:
    -  Windows Update should be enabled and all the latest updates applied
    -  Anti-virus / anti-spyware software should be installed, active
       and up-to-date
    -  Turn on the firewall on all computers connected to the network
    -  Disable folder sharing
4)  Make sure your new system is running optimally and has been checked
    for security threats before you start using it with support.com's Tune
    and Protect service. Not only will the service optimize your system
    for speed and performance, it will help to ensure that you are
    protected from security threats before you open the new computer
    up to the rest of your own home network. The service is delivered
    quickly over the phone by calling 1-800-PC-Support. ($89.99)
5)  Only after you are sure your new computer is clean and running
    efficiently should it be opened up to shared home networks.

support.com, a leading provider in the growing remote technology services space, wants to fundamentally change the way people fix technology problems. Previously, a computer meltdown meant pleading phone calls to tech-savvy friends and family, a trip to the computer store or a long wait for a technician to arrive and fix it. support.com's suite of tools mean a qualified technician can diagnose and repair most technology problems quickly over the phone, typically for less than the cost of in-store or in-home service. Additionally, support.com's services can happen while you watch, so they are ideal for people who are concerned about privacy and security.

About support.com

support.com is a provider of Instant Technology Relief(SM) directly to consumers and small businesses. Benefiting from more than a decade of R&D and multiple patented service delivery technologies, consumers can access premium services previously available only to large-scale enterprise clients. The company behind support.com is SupportSoft, Inc., (NASDAQ: SPRT), which was established in 1997 and provides diagnostic, setup and repair software and services for corporations across the globe. For more information about support.com and Instant Technology Relief, visit www.support.com or dial 1-800-PC-SUPPORT.

Contact Information

  • MEDIA CONTACT

    Heather Hawkins
    support.com
    +1 (650) 556-8545

    Stephanie Rice
    Ruder Finn (for support.com)
    +1 (323) 877-6401
    rices@ruderfinn.com