Before you throw away or donate or giveaway your old PC, one main consent is that whether the data on the hard disk has been securely wiped off and no longer accessible or not, as data and information is still reside hidden on the hard disk in various way such as original location or temporary files, even as the files has appeared to be deleted from Windows.
Cnet suggested a few ways where you can make sure that your data and files are removed completely and left without any trace on the computer, because by simply reformatting and defragging the hard-disk is not enough to erase the old data.
Among the way is physically destroy the hard disk, or demagnetize the drive with a Type I or Type II degauss tool, or overwrite all of the data with a utility called a disk sanitizer or a data shredder, such as Eraser 5.7. Beside, hard drive encryption such as Encrypting File System (EFS) of Windows 2000 and Windows XP or 128-bit AES symmetric encryption FileVault for Apple Mac OS X, and other encryption tools can be used to protect the data all the time.
Full Article (link dead)