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Thread: Boot to DOS

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    Boot to DOS

    I have an eight year old Dell Inspiron 4100 XP laptop that I want to give to my local recycler. Before I do that I want to format the hard drive. The computer boots directly into Windows with no option, that I can see, to boot into DOS. (F2 takes me to Setup.) I created a DOS bootable floppy, but this doesn't have the format command.
    Is there a command that lets me exit Windows to DOS? It's been a long time since I've played these games, so I need help.
    HH

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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Howard,

    When you first boot the machine press the F8 key repeatedly. You should eventually get a screen which will offer Safe Mode (Command Prompt).
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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    RG, I think Howard's goal is to erase the hard drive before parting with it, which I don't think you can do from Safe Mode.

    Howard, by "DOS bootable floppy", I assume you mean you used XP to create a "MS-DOS startup disk". If so, you're correct that it does not contain the format utility. To get a DOS boot disk with the format utility, visit bootdisk.com and download either a WinME or Win98se boot disk. Choose one of the "custom" variations, as the "OEM" versions may not include the format utility.

    If your intent is simply to wipe the hard drive, consider using Darik's Boot & Nuke (dban) instead of a DOS reformat. Download the iso to make a bootable CD, boot from the CD, and use to to securely wipe the drive.


    Dan

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    Ah, yes, the F8 key! However, in Safe Mode it won't let me format C: because "Volume is in use by another process". Then asks if I want to dismount the volume. Yes yields "Cannot lock the volume . Volume is still in use". Now what?
    HH

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    Dan, you are correct on both points. However, I can't get on the Internet with this old PC so I may have to make the bootable CD from another PC. I never thought format C: would be so complicated!
    HH

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Microsoft DOS format command

    Make or download a bootable disk from/for a similar computer.

    Other Ideas:

    1. reinstall the OS from scratch using the long format, then wipe the freespace.
    Even if it's an OEM image reinstall, one can still effectively wipe the freespace.
    2. If you are concerned with sensitive information on a hard drive just remove the drive and keep it. If the recycler
    wants to refurbish the machine they can provide a new drive themselves.
    3. Replace drive with similar and keep or destroy original.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2012-08-04 at 19:23.

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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Howard,

    What I actually had in mind, and I should have stated more clearly, is that you can get into Safe Mode then copy Format.com found in the c:\windows\system32 directory onto the floppy. Then boot from the floppy and away you go. Sorry I wasn't clear in the beginning.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    I've restored formatted and FDisk'ed drives inside 4 minutes, complete with all their previous contents; I suggest you go with Dan's DBaN suggestion from Post #3 or pull the drive and physically destroy it.

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    RG,
    Tried that, got the same error message about drive in use. But, found a solution, Window Washer, on the computer. See note to all below.

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    Thanks to all who responded. I got lots of good, new ideas. However...
    I found a program called Window Washer on my laptop. It has an option to make a bootable CD with several "bleaching" functions, including DOD (3 passes) and NSA (7 passes).
    Created the CD, booted, and chose NSA. It's just finishing pass 1 and will take 1 hr and 14 min. to complete. Looks like is does the same as Boot and Nuke.

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    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    Sounds like you've just turned that laptop into a door stop, or boat anchor. Without the OS and all the original drivers that thing is worthless. Good going!

    I use a much less destructive method to "wipe" a used computer.
    First, I make a new user and then delete the old user. That erases all the old user's personal files.
    Then I clean out the drive of all the BS files.
    Then I back up the drive to an external drive.
    Then I boot up with my DOS Utilities CD or Flash Drive and FDISK and Format the drive in DOS.
    The DOS format writes multiple times to every sector on the HD, pretty well erasing it.
    Then I restore the backup Image file I saved earlier.
    The drive and the computer is now MINE!, , with no leftovers from the previous owner.
    The original OS and all the factory drivers are preserved.

    Cheers mates!
    The Doctor

    PS: I'll gladly share my DOS Utilities CD with anyone who wants it.
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

    Backup! Backup! Backup! GHOST Rocks!

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    A doorstop is exactly what I wanted. This laptop had too little memory and HD space to be useful to anyone. I just wanted to be sure that there was no personal data on it and I found a very simple method to ensure that. I will now take it to my town's hazardous waste disposal where they will recycle what they can and safely get rid of the rest.
    Of course, I could have removed the hard drive and recycled the peices separately.
    Thanks, again to all who shared this thread, for all the useful tips.
    HH

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    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    Sounds like you got what you needed. Data can be recovered from a formatted disk. Window Washer is more thorough. I use Kill Disk for the same purpose. And neither program turns the PC into a door stop. All it needs is a reinstall of an OS afterwards and any sensitive user data should be unrecoverable.

    Jerry

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    5 Star Lounger RussB's Avatar
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    Another option that one company around here uses, is to remove and destroy the HDD then donate the unit without a HDD.
    Less convenient for a potential next user, but then again a new HDD should give the door stop a longer second life.
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    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    Even a laptop with Windows 98 on it, can be useful to someone.
    I have one, that I've resurrected. It does great for email and some simple surfing.
    It even plays a wicked game of Solitaire.

    I had another one, a Toshiba, with ME on it. I loaned it to a friend after I upgraded it to XP.
    It's a little slow, by today's standards, but it works flawlessly. Waste not, want not!

    But to each his own.

    The Doctor
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

    Backup! Backup! Backup! GHOST Rocks!

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