Solid data "erasing" utility

Hey Experts!  My dad has finally retired and is moving off the grid.  He plans to donate his laptop to a golfing buddy's son granted I can scrub his data off of the laptop before reinstalling the OS.  Because of the projects my dad worked on, I would like to offer a pretty solid option for him.  Without spending $$$$ as this is going to be a donated laptop,  can anyone suggest an option that will satisfy the need?

Thanks in advance!
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samiam41Asked:
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rindiConnect With a Mentor Commented:
As PC's usually come with the OS installed by the manufacturer, and you don't get installation media with the PC, they usually have a recovery partition on it so you can get it back to factory delivery state. There is usually a utility on the PC that allows you to create 1 set of recovery DVD's. As most people forget to do that, I first suggest you make sure you have those recovery DVD's, or make them now. Whoever buys the PC will want it with a legal copy of the OS it came with originally. Check the manual of the PC for details on how these are created. Only after that has been done clear the disk.

Once the above is done, you can use dban which is included on the UBCD to completely clear the disk's contents, and after that you can use the recovery DVD's to get the PC back into the factory state.

http://ultimatebootcd.com
http://pharry.org/data/ubcd524.iso
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aadihConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Eraser:  < http://eraser.heidi.ie/ >  Free.

"[...] There are several problems in secure file removal, mostly caused by the use of write cache, construction of the hard disk and the use of data encoding. These problems have been taken into consideration when Eraser was designed, and because of this intuitive design and a simple user interface, you can safely and easily erase private data from your hard drive.[...]"
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Dave HoweConnect With a Mentor Software and Hardware EngineerCommented:
consider replacing the entire hard drive - seriously!

replacement hard drives are cheap, you can green-field install the OS, then stick the old drive in a $10 usb caddy and return it to your father - if six months from now he desperately needs something that was on the laptop, he will be glad you did :)
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samiam41Author Commented:
Hey DaveHowe!  I like the way you think however my dad has instructed me that the drive should be cleaned off with nothing recoverable and put back into the laptop.  I suggested the same thing as you about putting the drive aside just in case after I give it a bath but he doesn't want it floating around and getting lost.  I don't ask questions after a certain point and go with the flow.  Since I need to get this back to him this weekend, I'm just doing as I'm told.  Even if I'm 34, he's still dad.  :)   Thanks DaveHowe.
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Scott CSenior Systems EnginerCommented:
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samiam41Author Commented:
Here's what I found so far in the quick research before I start working on this project.

Active@ Kill Disk > Free version gives one pass.  {Is this enough to be confident that it's gone?  I honestly don't know and hope someone here can tell me for sure}

dban > Looks powerful and is free.  I may start with this one and partner it with eraser

aadih > Does eraser handle just the free space or will it also completely wipe a disk that has data on it?  I went to their site and read countless threads in their forum but I may have missed the answer to my question.

Again, thanks everyone for your help and time with this.
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aadihCommented:
Eraser:  Specified folders, files, and free space. Wipe everything except windows and eraser.

Then use DBAN.
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aleghartConnect With a Mentor Commented:
For free tools, use dban.

No need to do any erasing before hand, as suggested in the previous post.  Waste of time.  dban doesn't care what is or isn't on the disk.  Multi-pass wipe.

No need to do the 35-pass stuff.  Not a relevant method for modern drives from this decade.  3-pass with your chosen characters, or automatically chosen characters.

After the wipe, stick in the OS media, format and install.
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nobusCommented:
Samiam, you realise if you use the eraser tools  that EVERYTHING will be rased?
do you have the means of putting back the OS and programs?
be sure you have them (test it) before ERASING
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aleghartConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Or, as the warning appears to most click-happy users:

if you use the eraser tools  [OK]  that EVERYTHING  [OK]  will be erased?  [OK]  

do you have the means   [OK]  of putting back the OS   [OK]  and programs?  [OK]  
be sure   [OK]  you have them   [OK]  (test it)   [OK]  before ERASING  [OK]    [OK]  

Are you sure?   [OK]    [OK]    [OK]    [OK]  

...ummm...where's the Undo?
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nobusCommented:
aleghart - what do you mean with the above?  i don't understand
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aleghartCommented:
I've wiped a drive, fully confident that I had popped out all of the drive trays but one.

But neglected to disconnect the internal boot drive.   Clicked right through every single warning.  Luckily, it was next on the list...but a bone-headed move.
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nobusCommented:
tx for the update - all of a sudden i was n't sure of my english understanding anymore
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samiam41Author Commented:
@aleghart, that is hilarious!!  I laughed after reading about your experience.  That sucks man!

OK.  What a journey this was.  Thank you for all of your time and suggestions.  I am going to do my best to award points so apologize if you feel slighted.  That's not my intention at all.  I sincerely appreciate your help with this!

Thanks everyone.  I look forward to working with you all again in the near future.

-Aaron
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samiam41Author Commented:
@nobus, yes, I wanted to use one solution to wipe everything.  I didn't want to wipe the free space and then use another product for the remaining OS/data.  I wanted to clarify that before I tried them out.

I have the recovery disc's already created.  :)  Sorry.  Missed that in my first response.
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nobusCommented:
samiam, tx for the update.
i asked, incase you wanted to wipe only free space...
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