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  1. #1
    2 Star Lounger
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    clean my hard drive?

    I have just purchased a new computer and want to donate my old one to charity.
    What do I have to do to make sure all personal info is gone from the hard drive?

    Thanks

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  3. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Leif's Avatar
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    How sensitive is the data on your computer?
    In this thread, Jefferson suggests that the only way to be 100% certain all information is gone is to completely destroy the hard drive. Unless you suspect the recipient is going to invest time and energy on the off chance they can glean something from your drive, simply reformatting (and reinstalling an operating system if applicable) should be good enough.

    If you can tell us what operating system is on the old pc now, we can give you quick and simple guidlines to help you sleep sound at night <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

  4. #3
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    Well, I'm sure there is a lot of truth in what Jefferson (and others) have said about being able to reconstruct data on a hard drive. In fact I know some institutions who, because of HIPPA requirements are REQUIRED to physically destroy a hard drive before they throw it away or even return it to a manufacturer for warranty replacement. However, if we're talking about a "personal" computer, I think I'm with you Leif in that I'd be satisfied with an FDISK, reformat and maybe even going so far as to do a "low-level" format with the drive manufacturer's (free) diagnostic disk (software).

  5. #4
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    I worked with DoD for a long time Al, and the "standard" way of disposing of HDs there is total destruction. But in between this and the fdisk/ format options is something like the <img src=/S/free.gif border=0 alt=free width=30 height=15>ware Eraser:

    "Eraser is an advanced security tool which allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns. Eraser's source code is released under GNU General Public License. The patterns used for overwriting are based on Peter Guttmann's paper "Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory" and they are selected to effectively remove magnetic remnants from the hard drive. Other methods include the one defined in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual of the US Department of Defence and overwriting with pseudorandom data. You can also define your own overwriting methods."

    Windows Ver: 9x / Me / NT4 / 2000 / XP (2.6MB)

    Alan

  6. #5
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    There ya go, Alan! I knew there must be something out there. I remember years ago, when Peter Norton still had his "NU" stuff around, I think there was something like a disk "wipe" command that put hex FF all over the drive or something like that. Maybe it's still around, but if your suggestion is free, I'd go for it.

  7. #6
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    There is also a free disk wipe utility in the freeware version of PGP. This can wipe individual files, free space, or entire disks.

    StuartR

  8. #7
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    Nancy

    It seems that most of your previous correspondents have missed picking up on the word "personal" from your requirements.

    If you are intending to donate the disk with a bootable operating system on it but remove all of your "personal data" from it, this will involve you in quite a lot of work! If it has applications like Office on it that you also wish to donate, this could take you a long time to track down files (in all the fascinating variety of locations where Windows can store them) plus perhaps a goodly number of registry entries. You may even conclude that it's not worth the effort!

    As a first pass you can remove all the files in any "data" directory(s) that you have created, being careful, of course, not to get rid of any files relied on by the operating system and applications. Then use Explorer to scan the whole disk for any files with words which only YOU would use, and delete the files they're in...

    Or perhaps adopt the (rather extreme?) views of Scott McNealy, the chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems: "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it".

    John
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

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  9. #8
    Plutonium Lounger Leif's Avatar
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    Not to mention 'Registered to:' names in the registry, encrypted passwords, browser history held goodness knows where.....

    I think a format is the minimum, simplest and least time consuming process.

  10. #9
    Uranium Lounger viking33's Avatar
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    Norton Utilities still has the "wipe info" utility in Systemworks. There is a fast wipe or a 7 step government wipe, to DoD specs.
    -----------------------------------------
    Combines several wiping and overwriting processes to conform to specifications in DoD (Department of Defense) document 5220-22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, for the ultimate security level when eliminating data from digital media.

    As Alan mentioned, there are also a lot of other erase-wipe utilities around. The government wipe also does free space on the disk in addition to existing files.

    Edited to add: If I were giving the drive away to someone, I don't think the "destroy the hard drive" would be a good option !
    BOB
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  11. #10
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    Or take the potentially much shorter route of securely erasing the whole HD then reinstalling anything you want to give away with the computer.

    Alan

  12. #11
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    That seems an even better suggestion than mine, I'm annoyed to say!

    John
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

  13. #12
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    At the risk of giving you too many choices, the SysInternals site also offers a deep cleaner: SDelete. According to SysInternals, "SDelete implements the Department of Defense clearing and sanitizing standard DOD 5220.22-M, to give you confidence that once deleted with SDelete, your file data is gone forever." I've used it, but have no way to verify how well it sanitized the data. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

  14. #13
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    Jefferson

    I think they may have misspoken! For do I not remember when being in "the bathroom", as Americans quaintly call it, the toilet seat had a plastic strip over it saying "Sanitized for your protection"...

    John
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  15. #14
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    <img src=/S/ranton.gif border=0 alt=ranton width=66 height=37>
    For goodness sake, John, get over it will ya. We ARE Americans and we've been FREE for 228 years! We DO call it a bathroom, not a privvy or WC or whatever other names YOU have for it. It usually has a toilet, not a bidet, and a tub or shower or both and we do use it for bathing and other needs. Sanitizing is a matter of personal concern. Sorry, couldn't resist... <img src=/S/yawn.gif border=0 alt=yawn width=15 height=15> <img src=/S/rantoff.gif border=0 alt=rantoff width=66 height=37>

  16. #15
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    Re: clean my hard drive?

    Al

    I was simply commenting on the incongruous and inappropriate use of "sanitize" for the removal of data.

    John
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

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