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Deleting personal files in computer for sale.

Posted on 2002-07-15
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I'm getting ready to sell my pc (Dell Dimension 667, Windows 98, 2nd Ed.)  How do I delete personal files that I don't want a new user to be able to access?
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Question by:rundadrm
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8 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:sorgie
ID: 7155234
Without using third party software the safe way is to reformat the drive and reinstall windows
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Adam Leinss earned 200 total points
ID: 7155268
Try ftp://ftp.icc.ru/pub/windows/95/utils/ghost/gdisk.exe
with the diskwipe switch

GDisk /DISKWIPE /?

This command displays the command-line format for the /DISKWIPE operation. The /DISKWIPE command wipes out all information on the hard disk.

Warning: The /DISKWIPE command wipes out the entire contents of the physical disk. Make sure you specify the correct fixed physical disk before proceeding. You can use the /STATUS command with a disk number to check the identity of the fixed disk that you specify.

General command:
gdisk disk /DISKWIPE [/DOD|/CUSTOM:n]


disk
 The physical fixed disk (1-8). Default is to list all fixed disks.

/DISKWIPE
 Wipes the contents of the whole disk.

/DOD
 DoD 5200.28-STD Wipe of the contents of the whole disk.

/CUSTOM:passes
 DoD 5200.28-STD Wipe of the contents of the whole disk.Note that this switch is not available in Symantec Ghost 7.5. Use /DOD instead.

/X
 Ignore extended disk-access support.

/I
 Ignore direct IDE disk-access support

/S
 Ignore SCSI disk-access support.
/Y

 Suppress prompting to confirm you wish the action to be performed.  /SURE has the same meaning.

/R
 Restart after execution of command
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 7155456
A REFORMAT will NOT stop anyone other than a complete computer idiot from getting at your old data.  The data still exists in unaltered form on the drive.

The BEST solution is to remove the HDD and keep it or see that it is totally destroyed.  This is what the military does with its secrets.

The next best is to get a SECURE erase program.  (for example http://www.liveye.com/wiperaser/)  These things "scrub" your hard drive and overwrite the data several times with junk to obscure the original contents.  Perhaps the NSA or CIA could recover your data after this, but few others could.

A "poor mans" choice is to download the drive manufacturers LOW LEVEL FORMATTER (LLF) utility.  (Most are free for the download) and LLF format the drive.  Since this process overwrites all data on the disk you are pretty safe from all but the most sophisticated recvery operations.  Sophisticated is a synonym for EXPENSIVE here so unless you're a terrorist or gangster nobody is going to spend that kind of time or effort to recover your data from this operation. (And my bet is that if you WERE such a person, you would NOT be seeking such advice here...)
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Expert Comment

by:SysExpert
ID: 7155527
If you are just interested in wiping specific files and not the entire disk then see this free Util from PCMAG that allows multiple wipes of Files, free space etc.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,25745,00.asp

When you delete a file from your hard disk, it's not really deleted. It's just removed from sight. Only the reference to the file's data is deleted. The contents of the file remain on your hard disk unless and until they are overwritten by other data. As a result, those who know where and how to look for it still can retrieve sensitive information from a deleted file.

Shred 2 eliminates that problem by destroying a file's contents before removing the reference to it. When shredding a folder, you can specify whether the contents of subfolders are deleted and, if so, whether the subfolders should then be removed. Shred 2.0 also can "blank out" the free space on your disk, thus destroying any leftover fragments of files that were previously deleted.

-----------

I hope this helps !
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:sorgie
ID: 7155542
WOW I'm a complete computer Idoit!!!
What the hell do people keep on there computers that someone would try to recover after the drive has been reformatted.

Unless you have files that are illegal, will send you to jail or if someone recovers can bankrupt you or make you appear tobe a terrorist then just use SysExperts suggestion for cleaning or mine to reformat.
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:sorgie
ID: 7155546
oop!  I'm sorry JHance's link will do the job also!
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LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:Griffon
ID: 7156601
if you are worried about data recovery from your HD then do a low level format this will set all of the bit on the disc to zero and make it next to impossable to recover it.

People with way to much money and time could garner an image of what was there but that is highly unlikely... certainly way more difficult than with the conventional format.

Griffon.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:Mindphaser
ID: 7162901
There are points for jhance, SysExpert, girffon and sorgie in this TA.

** Mindphaser - Community Support Moderator **
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