6 Things You Should Do Before Returning Your Work PC

Returning a work laptop? Safeguard your data and adhere to offboarding protocols. This guide ensures a secure and efficient departure process.

By Abhishek Chandel
New Update
6 Things You Should Do Before Returning Your Work PC

6 Things You Should Do Before Returning Your Work PC

Returning a work computer or laptop means more than just boxing up the device and sending it back. You must thoroughly wipe your information and restore the original factory settings. Failure to properly prepare laptops and accessories prior to departure exposes you to data theft or leaks confidential information to future employees. Follow key steps like unlinking personal accounts, removing saved logins, and checking with IT on proper erase procedures. This guide covers critical protocols when offboarding devices that kept both your personal and company's digital assets secure during your employment.

1. Remove Personal Files and Information

Delete all files that don't belong to the company. This includes:

  • Photos, music, videos, ebooks, and documents stored locally or in cloud accounts

  • Downloaded programs, software installers, plugins

  • Creative works or code repositories in personal projects

Also wipe your browser history, cached pages from the internet, saved form data, and cookies. Do this in all browsers like Chrome, Firefox, etc. Certain sites store login credentials or usage trackers locally too.

Go beyond just 'delete' when possible - try securely erasing files or shred contents to prevent recovery.

2. Carefully Unlink Connected Accounts

Audit logins saved on the device. Sign out of any personal accounts like:

  • Webmail and email clients

  • Social platforms and messaging apps

  • Cloud backup and file storage services

  • Password managers or authentication apps

  • Streaming entertainment or shopping sites

For accounts with sensitive data, also consider changing passwords if work computers had stored access.

3. Disable Automatic Login

Check both browser settings and individual site configurations to disable auto-login or saved credentials. This includes:

  • Disabling password managers built into Chrome/Firefox

  • Turning off auto-sign for Microsoft and Google accounts

  • Revoking OAuth access to third-party apps and services

Also inspect bookmarks, cookies, and site data permissions that may automatically log you in each visit.

4. Confirm Drive Partitioning

Did your IT department partition the hard drive? Or did you set up separate partitions for personal files?

Before wiping and returning the full device, verify all disk partitions are unlocked and accessible. You don’t want confidential company data squirreled away somewhere.

5. Follow Company Offboarding Protocols

Ask your IT department what steps they require before return, such as:

  • Updated anti-virus and malware scans

  • Drive encryption checks

  • Secure erase of full hard drive contents

  • Operating system reversion to default factory state

  • Checking backups and machine images

Also confirm accessories like chargers, cables, dongles, keyboards etc. the company expects returned.

6. Return Equipment in Timely Manner

Pack up and deliver company assets like laptop, chargers, and accessories to your manager or an IT representative. Avoid delays or misplaced equipment during offboarding.

Get everything collected for transport ahead of time. And pay attention to details like asset tags on devices that need documentation.


Don't treat returning work PCs and laptops as an afterthought during offboarding. Make it the priority it deserves to avoid data risks. Remember to strip out personal files irretrievably, break account linkages, disable saved credentials in apps and browsers, confirm drive partitioning, seek IT guidance on wiping protocols, and finally return the equipment promptly in pristine condition. Companies issue these devices in trust to employees, who then carry the responsibility to properly relinquish that digital access when changing roles or departing. By following this end-to-end checklist, you uphold your duty in maintaining sensitive corporate and personal data security alike.

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