Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    156
    Thanks
    6
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Reinstalling XP versus creating a new account for optimization

    I have a friend who is going to be selling his computer with Windows XP Pro SP3 on it, and I'm helping him optimize it before it is sold. Should I reinstall Windows XP on it, and update it so everything is all set, or could I simply delete his old account, create a new one, and optimize the OS that way? This would include cleaning the registry, securely deleting the empty space created by his old files, and uninstalling any programs unnecessary to the buyer.

    I know that there is no substitute for a clean, fresh installation, but I just wasn't sure if that was necessary, and might be overkill. On the other hand, deleting and creating a new account, followed by an optimization might be more work. Any advice on the matter would be most appreciated.
    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Issac Asimov, from his novel "Foundation"

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    12,631
    Thanks
    161
    Thanked 936 Times in 856 Posts
    A clever person could get info back with the right S/W. I would think it safer to format and reinstall XP. This will ensure the data he may have had on the PC is deleted and overwritten with a fresh install. Also the person buying the PC would appreciate the fact the install is new and pristine. Might make it easier to sell.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
    Win 8 Pro (64 Bit), IE 10 (64 Bit)


    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

  3. #3
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central Florida
    Posts
    1,501
    Thanks
    30
    Thanked 205 Times in 163 Posts
    H.....

    I get computers all the time, from my customers who are moving up to a new PC.
    Reformatting and reinstalling Windows sounds simple, only if you have the Factory Install CD, with all the hardware drivers on it,
    otherwise..... don't!

    Some companies even tweak the OS on their computers, for compatibility with their hardware. So keep that OS as long as it's still working.

    Go into the users app in control panel, and make a new user (without a password but with Administrator privileges) Reboot, and then log in to the new user and delete the old user. Use a Generic name for the new user, like 'Joe' since the computer is going to a new owner.

    Then set up the new desktop and install AV and AS software (which I think you already have, Eh?)
    Then apply the proper tweaks for performance.
    Run cleanup software, like Easy Cleaner to remove junk files from the HD and clean the registry.

    Finally you'll have a computer that looks like it's never been used.
    Don't forget to do a defrag, to overwrite old data that's been deleted and to re-organize the data on the HD.

    I wish you and that PC were here, so I could show you exactly how I refurbish an old PC.

    OH, and if the computer is over four years old, change out the CMOS battery on the motherboard,
    and clean the dirt out of the CPU heatsink.

    Cheers Mate!
    W.......
    Last edited by DrWho; 2011-12-17 at 21:46.
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

    Backup! Backup! Backup! GHOST Rocks!

  4. #4
    Lounge VIP
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Scotland
    Posts
    1,168
    Thanks
    44
    Thanked 134 Times in 115 Posts
    I know that there is no substitute for a clean, fresh installation, but I just wasn't sure if that was necessary, and might be overkill.
    Therein lies the problem: what might be overkill to one person, might be reasonable to others. It depends on the risk profile of the existing owner, his or her data and the likely end user of the machine after it has been sold.

    In a business environment, for example, it is routine for the hard drive to be removed before disposal {or for the disposing company to certify secure destruction of the drive}. For residential users that might be considered to be overkill, but if the existing user has commercial data, or sensitive data contained on the drive, it might not be overkill.

    When working with users in this scenario, I offer a range of services, explaining the benefits and shortcomings of each and let the user decide.

    I think in your case, the current owner should decide after you have briefed them fully: it is their data after all.

  5. #5
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central Florida
    Posts
    1,501
    Thanks
    30
    Thanked 205 Times in 163 Posts
    It's not common, at least in the US (not sure about Scotland) for a business to buy a used computer. Most likely the buyer will be someone on a very limited budget who just wants something that works, so they can do email and surf the net.
    They won't give a hoot who had the computer before and they certainly won't have the expertise to try to recover deleted data.
    So, just deleting the old user, also deletes all their personal data.

    Also something I do to further the data file deletion, is ..... I make a Ghost backup of the drive to another HD, once I've cleaned it up. Then I run FDISK to remove all the partitions and make a new one. Then I restore the Ghost Image file back to the now clean HD. Then I partition the drive and make another Ghost backup to the new second partition. This becomes very usefull if the new user mucks up Windows, or gets infected by some malware that cannot be removed. I just had this happen recently, with one of my customers, who had not done any updates or maintenance in over two years, and was hopelessly infected by a virus (Trojan). I had made a Ghost backup and put it on their second partition when I set up the used computer for them over two years ago.

    This process further erases the old data on the HD and refreshes it, by re-writing all the data on the drive.

    I do this as a part of my weekly maintenance on my own computer. (Ghost backup, followed by a Ghost Restore)

    D...... , Got Snow yet?

    The Doctor
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

    Backup! Backup! Backup! GHOST Rocks!

  6. #6
    Lounge VIP
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Scotland
    Posts
    1,168
    Thanks
    44
    Thanked 134 Times in 115 Posts
    It's not common, at least in the US (not sure about Scotland) for a business to buy a used computer......
    I think we are at crossed purposes. I was observing that if a company is disposing of a machine they will likley remove and keep the drive as they can't risk anyone accessing the data if that machine is subsequently sold on. For a residential disposal as per Diogenes' requirement that might be overkill, or it might not be, depending in their risk aversion.

    One option that I offer people in extreme situations is to encrypt the drive before deleting partitions - that way any tool which is able to read data off the platters, can still not make any sense of such data. Many consider that's overkill, but it is an option that some people take up.

    My central theme is that, in my humble opinion, the choice of what is overkill or otherwise should rest with the current owner of the machine - as noted previously, it is the current owners data that needs secured, not Diogenes' or ours. Diogenes should present the current owner with a range of solutions and let them decide.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    6,797
    Thanks
    117
    Thanked 799 Times in 720 Posts
    My experience has been that many businesses will use a disk wipe program similar to:
    http://www.diskwipe.org/download.php
    o
    r CCleaners drive wiper. A fresh OS can be installed after the drive has been wiped. It would be extremely difficult to extract confidential data after a drive wipe.

    Jerry

  8. #8
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    156
    Thanks
    6
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    Thank you all for the input, advice, and suggestions! Just what I was looking for! Thank you for the suggestion to clean out the heatsink, Doc, it definitely needed it! My friend was explaining that he hadn't ever opened the computer since it was purchased, so it was pretty dusty in there. The exhaust fan, back ports, PSU fan, GPU fan, and the heatsink fan were all quite grimy. Nothing that some canned air and q-tips couldn't solve!

    There was a strange grinding noise that I heard from inside the computer, and it turns out it was the PSU fan: one of the fan blades had broken clean off, and the rest of the fan was hitting the broken blade! I removed the PSU screen and extracted the broken blade with a pair of tweezers. I'm debating whether or not to superglue it back on, or use thermal paste: it will get pretty hot next to the PSU, and the fan will be in constant movement, so maybe the paste is more appropriate. On the other hand, I might not bother with it at all, as it is only one fan blade, and the computer owner wasn't concerned. The fan spins great now that it's clean, and I think it will work fine sans one blade.

    One other interesting point about the computer's hardware: the display ports from the GPU card work fine, but the motherboard's VGA port doesn't seem to work. Is this something I could change in the BIOS, or would I have to remove the GPU card in order for the monitor to default back to the original VGA port?

    As far as the debate between Tinto and Doc Who goes, both have brought up good points. Naturally, my friend does have informed consent, and he doesn't have anything personal or incriminating on the hard drive. He just used it for music and pictures, and those have already been safely removed and backed up. While Tinto is correct in the sense that if this were a commercial or enterprise computer, the drive would probably have to be either disposed or securely erased, this desktop wasn't used in a business context, and it will probably be sold to someone like Dr. Who so aptly described:
    Most likely the buyer will be someone on a very limited budget who just wants something that works, so they can do email and surf the net. They won't give a hoot who had the computer before and they certainly won't have the expertise to try to recover deleted data.
    So while an optimization might be easier, bascically because there are not a whole lot of programs to remove or user files to delete, the clean install won't be hard either. I like Dr. Who's point that sometimes - with an OEM machine especially - it is better to do a clean install with the factory install disc, for several reasons:

    1.) It includes any extra drivers that Windows might not be able to fetch for certain devices, such as WiFi adapters, webcams, and so on.
    2.) It includes extra bonus software that can be useful or is necessary to control certain devices. For example, I knew someone who had an HP laptop, and after they performed a clean install on it, the webcam wouldn't work, not because it didn't have the driver, but because the software to operate it - provided by the OEM - was gone.
    3.) The copy of Windows should be fully activated, so there's no issue of counterfeit software or problems using the OS legally.

    The only reason I wouldn't use an OEM install is because it can include all the trialware and bloatware that shipped with the computer, so a cleanup is necessary to remove all the extra junk.

    Unfortunately, neither me nor my friend has the OEM disc for his desktop, so if we want to do a clean install, it will have to be with a retail copy of Windows. Whether I choose to go the clean install route, or simply delete his account and create a new one for a potential buyer, I shouldn't have too many problems with covering his tracks and preparing the computer for resale.
    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Issac Asimov, from his novel "Foundation"

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •