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Best way to delete files off computer before selling?

Discussion in 'Windows OS and Software' started by s4iscool, Oct 30, 2007.

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  1. s4iscool

    s4iscool Notebook Deity

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    I want to keep my OS and programs on the computer when I sell it, but dont want anyone to recover my deleted programs. Is there a program that cleans the drive so that the files can not be recovered?
     
  2. Storm3016

    Storm3016 Notebook Evangelist

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    I'm not sure if there is any software like that, you'd say there would be but i don't know. Did/do you save your data on a separate partition or not? If so you can just re-format that partition a few times, that should do it.
    What you could do is just delete all the data and fill up your hdd with unimportant data like movies or something, and delete it again. Once your data has been overwritten once it would be very hard if not impossible to recover it again.
     
  3. s4iscool

    s4iscool Notebook Deity

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    i do know there are some pay software that will basically rewrite the used sectors over and over so its nearly impossible to recover. But i dont tihnk vista has anything like that built in. Ubuntu has it built in and would be nice on Vista :)
     
  4. heavyrain2408

    heavyrain2408 Notebook Guru

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    I think you should keep your HDD when selling your PC.
    It's the safest way.
     
  5. Storm3016

    Storm3016 Notebook Evangelist

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    That is what i always do actually, just replace the hdd for a new one and use the recovery disks to re-install the notebook to it's original configuration. You can get a usb case for the old hdd and use it as an external hdd.
     
  6. jin07

    jin07 Notebook Deity NBR Reviewer

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    Use Darik's Boot and Nuke program. This program is so good that the Department of Defense uses it on their computers when they want to permanently wipe an HD. You can even select their exact settings or select something with the level of security you want. Be warned, this process takes some time, about one day. I think CNET ran a video tutorial a little while which will help familiarize yourself with the program. Alternatively, there's an FAQ on Darik's website. Another warning, you will NOT be able to recover any data whatsoever once you execute the program. AGAIN YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET ANY DATA OFF OF IT.

    You could also just go the fun route and take out your HD, dip it in liquid nitrogen + hammer = good times. Or add flames.
     
  7. orev

    orev Notebook Virtuoso

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    There are a few programs that do this. One is called Eraser, and you can find it here: http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/download.php or there is a command line tool called sdelete from sysinternals that can wipe free space or securely delete specific programs.

    ABSOLUTELY NOT!@! Formatting does NOTHING to erase data on the disk!

    The DoD has published a few standard erasing techniques that have been implemented by many programs. My guess is this program is simply one of those implementations. However, for modern hard drives, this is usually overkill. All you need to do is zero out the disk, or if you want to get really secure use some random data.

    You can read about the Gutman method here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutmann_method who is the guy who did a lot of work in this area.
     
  8. s4iscool

    s4iscool Notebook Deity

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    thansk for the posts, im not trying to kill my HD, i actually need the OS install to remain untouched. I just want my personal docs to be earased and not be recoverable
     
  9. KnightUnit

    KnightUnit Notebook Evangelist

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    I believe Windows Washer has an option to create a low level formatboot disk and you can choose the level of format to make it pretty unrecoverable.
     
  10. brutal

    brutal Notebook Consultant

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    I uses steganos safe 2008, its also has a file "shredder", if you want to delete files and dont want them to be un-eraseable.
     
  11. JCMS

    JCMS Notebook Prophet

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    Yeah low-lever format i a nice way but it's long
     
  12. orev

    orev Notebook Virtuoso

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    You cannot do a "low level format". This is a reference to an old way you used to have to handle drives in the 80's and early 90's. All modern hard disks are "low level formatted" at the factory, and do not provide any interface for a user to do so. If the user *was* able to do it, the drive would like be damaged beyond repair. 1 2

    The definitive way to do this is to use sdelete or Eraser which are both free. There may be other tools, but these are both free, and 1) sdelete was written by Mark Russinovich of Sysinternals, which was recently bought by Microsoft because of his brilliance, and 2) Eraser is open source under GPL, so it has been scrutinized by multiple people for its efficacy.

    I recommend sdelete because it is small and simple, but it is a command-line tool. If that's not to your liking, you can use Eraser which is also good and has more of a GUI to it. The command for sdelete would be:
    Code:
    sdelete -z c:
    
    and replace c: with whatever drive you want to clean. It will fill up your disk with files of zeros. It'll take a long time and Windows might complain about low disk space.

    So manually go through and delete all of your personal files, then run the free space wipe and your disk will be clean.
     
  13. s4iscool

    s4iscool Notebook Deity

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    awesome ill try that. Is that command line "sdelete -z c:" the one to use for cleaning the free space? Again I want to keep my programs and OS, just clean the space that used to be occupied by my personal files.
     
  14. Crysis2kX

    Crysis2kX Notebook Enthusiast

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    Evidence Eliminator will do the trick for you.
     
  15. orev

    orev Notebook Virtuoso

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    Yes, -z cleans free space. A google search for sdelete will turn up the manual for it and the download.
     
  16. s4iscool

    s4iscool Notebook Deity

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    ok thanks, i downloaded eraser and it has a nice easy button to clean free space. thanks again
     
  17. sanpabloguy

    sanpabloguy Notebook Deity

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    I've used Eraser for several years and it works as advertised. My steps to clean up a drive and leave the OS in place:

    1. Add/remove all programs you want removed.
    2. Delete all files/folders you want deleted.
    3. Run Disk Cleanup, CCleaner, and defrag the hard drive.
    4. Reboot and run Eraser on all free space. I've never let it overwrite 35 times (which is the default, I think) because it takes so long. Letting it run a few times should be plenty. If you're really concerned, letting it overwrite/clean the free space 10 times is fine.
     
  18. orev

    orev Notebook Virtuoso

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    Yeah, eraser is pretty good. 10 is probably overkill though. The Gutmann method, which you can read about here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutmann_method is what most people cite as the reason for 35 passes. In reality, as stated by Gutmann himself, this is completely unnecessary on modern drives, and he recommends even just a few passes with random data.
     
  19. theZoid

    theZoid Notebook Savant

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    I used to use Eraser mentioned above, and do a DoD wipe once in a while, including free space. That was in my more 'nefarious' days lol
     
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