I was think of getting rid of an old computer I had in the office. But I was worried about the contents of the hard drive. Do I need to do anything special with that? Should I format it? Or run some utility to clean it off before I give it away or throw it out?
Yes Ken I strongly recommend you destroy your disk drive before throwing it out or giving it away. Unless I see the drive being destroyed I will personally take a hammer and physically break the drive.
If I am giving it to a friend I will not only format the drive I will use a utility to physically overwrite the entire drive with binary zeros. Use your favorite search engine to locate a utily to do this. This will insure that whatever data that was on the drive is no longer readable.
It is not like your friend would use the information, but when they got rid of the drive they may not destroy it and some information could remain on the drive forever. I am paranoid about this. Make sure you safeguard your data.