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  1. #1
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    Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    This is a bit of a woolly question, for reasons which will become clear.

    It is quite straightforward to erase the entire contents of a hard disk when passing it on, recycling or scrapping it, with programs like KillDisk or DBAN.

    But has anyone come across a program that will leave installed the operating system, programs (like Office), the appropriate parts of the Registry, etc, but remove any trace of user files and data, cookies, temporary files and temporary internet files, email messages, user profiles, and so on? This would probably require the user to select from a long list of possibilities, and I have probably thought of only a few above. This would enable a working but clean machine to be passed on for reuse...

    Thanks

    John
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  2. #2
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    There's no practical way to do that, and I would not trust any program that claimed to do so.

    Even when one uninstalls programs, some stuff may remain in the registry and there's no easy way to clean that up.

    You would also need a porogram to walk thru the file system and clean out "unused" sectors.

  3. #3
    Bronze Lounger IanWilson's Avatar
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    Is it not an option just to reformat and then reinstall just the OS, Office etc?

    Ian

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    Uranium Lounger viking33's Avatar
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    Ian,
    Yes it is but reformatting doesn't REALLY clean up the drive to a determined person. <img src=/S/clever.gif border=0 alt=clever width=15 height=15>
    BOB
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  5. #5
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    That is where the "OEM" restore CD's and/or partitions come in. They will restore to Factory settings and all is cleaned up.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

  6. #6
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    Ian/Dave

    Yes, reformatting the hard disk and installing all the programs you want to pass on would be fine -- if it weren't so much effort! I can't afford to spend (at least?) half a day to do this.

    And using the OEM restore disk/partition would be another option, provided you didn't spend the same half-a-day installing service packs and a raft of updates/hot-fixes!

    I'm looking for something that rapidly gets rid of user data from office PCs, but it doesn't need to be "forensically", since no compromising data, account numbers, etc will be present on them, that I can just tick some boxes and leave to get on with it for a few minutes.

    John
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  7. #7
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    You cannot clean the registry as apps leave all sorts of stuff even after an uninstall.

  8. #8
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    That's what registry cleaners are for! One will be built into the required software...

    John
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  9. #9
    Bronze Lounger IanWilson's Avatar
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    You could probably make your fortune if you could write and market the software you want!

    Ian

  10. #10
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    Here's a suggestion that I have used on occasion to do exactly what you are wanting to do, i.e., to pass on a machine to someone else with the installed programs yet without user data.

    1. Create a new Account with the new owner's name.
    2. Copy your Start Menu folder from: "Cocuments and Settingsyour_usernameStart Menu" and paste/replace it at: "Cocuments and Settingsnew_accountnameStart Menu".
    3. Delete your Account using "Control Panel/Accounts"
    4. Right-click on "My Computer" and select "Properties"
    5. Click on the "Computer Name" tab and change the "Computer description" and "Full computer name" information to whatever you want.
    6. Remove any/all e-mail accounts and their associated ".pst" or "mbx" folders/files if necessary.

    You can also go here: http://www.tech-recipes.com/windows_tips803.html where you can get a .vbs script to Change the Registered Owner and Organization Names or learn how to do this manually in the Registry.

    Jeff
    Jeff
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  11. #11
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    Registry cleaners do NOT, and CANNOT, remove all items from uninstalled programs.

  12. #12
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    What good does it do to copy the Start Menu?
    The new account will not have the installed programs referenced in the Start Menu.

  13. #13
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    <hr>What good does it do to copy the Start Menu?
    The new account will not have the installed programs referenced in the Start Menu.<hr>
    <IMG SRC=http://www.the-highway.com/Smileys/d-oh.gif> Gee, wasn't that the whole point, to remove personal data but leave the installed applications? <IMG SRC=http://www.the-highway.com/Smileys/Ponder.gif>

    Jeff
    Jeff
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  14. #14
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    Won't work because the original registry would be deleted.

  15. #15
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    Re: Hard disk user-data cleaner?

    Gee, and to think that the dozens of times I have done this what I was actually seeing was a figment of my own imagination. <IMG SRC=http://www.the-highway.com/Smileys/crazy2.gif> Again, if the original owner LEAVES whatever applications he wants to pass on to the new owner, after removing those which are not to be passed on, and then copying over the "Start Menu" so that those applications which were installed as "This user only" still have the shortcuts on the Start Menu, then it works. This does NOT assume one is doing a fresh install of Windows as the original post stated.

    <IMG SRC=http://www.the-highway.com/Smileys/trustme.gif>

    Jeff
    Jeff
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