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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    Clean Personal Info Off Hard Drive (Windows XP)

    I'm ready to get rid of an old computer, but I need to be sure I don't leave any personal information on it. Is it enough to reformat the drive?

    If so, how do I do it?

    Do I dare to remove the old drive and use it for backup? It's a 2003 and has been used a lot.

  2. #2
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Clean Personal Info Off Hard Drive (Windows XP)

    You can pull the drive, reinstall it in the case or an external enclosure and format it to use for backups. The only questions would be is it large enough to be useful for that purpose, and, of course, it's age. New HDs are pretty inexpensive though and might be a better choice for critical backups.

    If you want to be sure the data on the drive cannot be accessed, remove the drive and use an electric drill to drill a few holes through the drive's case, rendering it useless. The data could still be extracted from it, but that would be difficult. time consuming and expensive (read not worth the trouble). Another alternative is a file shredder program. Several free programs for this can be found here.
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    Re: Clean Personal Info Off Hard Drive (Windows XP)

    Are you trying to recycle the old computer, so that it can be used by someone else? If not, then a hard-drive physical destruction mechanism is appropriate (some favour the Drill, others the Big Hammer or Axe. Or in the US you could probably shoot it!)

    Alternatively, do you want to leave the new owner the Operating System on the hard disk? If yes, see if one of the suggested programs will clear out all user data but leave operating system files intact.

    Or do you want to use the disk yourself (perhaps in a USB-connected external drive enclosure) for backup? If so, then you can do a complete reformat on it - when it's in its new home!

    Decisions, decisions!
    BATcher

    Time prevents everything happening all at once...

  4. #4
    Star Lounger
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    Re: Clean Personal Info Off Hard Drive (Windows XP)

    Thanks for the help guys. I want to be able to safely donate the machine, which someone can fix up for use. I'll check out the shredder programs.

    Thanks!

  5. #5
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Clean Personal Info Off Hard Drive (Windows XP)

    If you have Spybot S&D on your system, it has a Secure File Shredder that you could use to selectively delete your data files. But if you are planning to donate the PC your best choice is to shred all the data on the drive with one of the programs I linked to and then reinstall or restore the system from the OEM restore CD. If the restore data is on a seperate partition you may still have the option to create a restore CD fro the partition and restore from that.
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