Refurbish Computer: Restoring Operating System

Refurbishing Computers


Restoring Operating Systems to Wiped Hard Drives


After the disk has been wiped clean of confidential data, it will be desirable to restore an operating system. Care should be taken to restore only the operating system that is legally transferable. In most cases this means the operating system that came loaded on the computer at the time of original purchase. (This is why it’s important to tag computer, software and matching documentation when the computer is received.)


Microsoft Windows Operating Systems. Microsoft operating systems are only valid when used with the machine on which they were originally installed. The original operating system can be restored after the hard drive has been wiped clean. However, there are options for installing a more current operating system after the disk is wiped..

Microsoft donates licenses for nonprofits and charities exclusively through TechSoup Stock. The terms of the program change occasionally. For details regarding the terms of the donations and licenses, check the TechSoup web site at .

This program is not the same as the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher initiative which targets large-scale refurbishers for the commercial market.  

Macintosh Operating Systems. Apple allows owners of Macintosh software to make a one-time, permanent transfer of all license rights to another party. The donor must include all of the software, component parts, original publications, documentation and the license. The donor cannot retain copies of any part of the software. The recipient of the Macintosh software must agree to accept the terms of the license.1



1 Software License Agreement. Retrieved February 13, 2008, from




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Other Information

Title: Refurbish Computer: Restoring Operating System
Module: Program Operations
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title:
Procedure: Microsoft and McIntosh software licenses
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 5:35 PM