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remove all user data from PC

Posted on 2014-04-07
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Last Modified: 2014-04-11
i want to sell a laptop, and as such i want to clean the old user data from the pc.
i know i can make another user account- switch users - and delete this
i have already uninstalled all user programs
But - is EVERYTHING deleted then?
eg : internet history; user passwords etc???
what is the BEST, or easiest way to have a clean laptop again ?

i am not concerned with Securely ering the data -  just get it off

***for several reasons; i do not want to do a fresh install, or restore to factorey settings (it does not work)

How do you do it?
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Question by:nobus
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17 Comments
 
LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:helpfinder
ID: 39982528
if you want delete all user data - and for sure then you should make a format and overwrite a data on HDD several time - to make impossible for new user to make a restore of deleted data (yes, it´s possible).
Yes, if you create new profile and delete old one (used till now) you will delete your user data but this is OK only if you are not affraid your laptop will be used in a way new owner will try to restore deleted files.
If you are affraid then you should wipe all your data on the HDD.
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Expert Comment

by:Mahesh
ID: 39982530
Just create new  local account and make it member of local administrators group

Reboot the machine once and then logon to machine with new admin account

Then go to My Computer\Properties\profiles tab and delete all user profiles for other users

Also delete any data folders copied in system root drive (For EX: C:, D: etc)

Mahesh.
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Assisted Solution

by:Dan Craciun
Dan Craciun earned 400 total points
ID: 39982547
I always Dban the hdd's I sell/donate. Just feel more comfortable this way.

If you create a new account and delete the old ones:
- internet history and passwords are gone
- user's documents are gone - if he/she used default locations (i.e. desktop, documents etc)

What will remain:
- printers
- group policies

Probably more, but that's all I could think of now.

HTH,
Dan
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Author Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39982732
to all - all your posts i answered myself in the original Q
please give a specific answer

only Dan had some good points (btw - i can use BCWipe also  - i have a licence for it)

more ideas plse
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 39982745
If I were you I'd first make sure you have created the recovery DVD's for your PC. Most PC's, when bought, come with installed OS, but don't included installation CD's or DVD's. They rather have a recovery partition from which you cane restore it to the factory defaults, and a utility that allows you to create 1 set of recovery DVD's for the case where the disk breaks and you would have to replace it...

Once you are sure you have those DVD's, run dban as has already been mentioned. Once that is done, use those recovery DVD's to return the system to the factory defaults.

You could of course also just invoke the restore to factory defaults by using the recovery partition (check the PC's manual for instructions on how that is done, usually you need to press a certain key combination at bootup, and sometimes you also have to make sure a d2d setting or similar is enabled in the BIOS). This replaces your partition with the OS installed on it with the factory default settings. That of course also removes any user data and installed programs. But as you haven't run DBan it can still be possible for someone with knowledge and the tools available to recover some data from the disk.

DBan makes that nearly impossible, but of course it will also wipe your recovery partition and OS, hence you will need the recovery DVD's to restore the OS.
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Assisted Solution

by:Perarduaadastra
Perarduaadastra earned 800 total points
ID: 39982751
Use the tools in the browsers to delete internet history, favourites, stored passwords etc. for each one.

Delete the contents of any Temp folders you can find. There's the one in the root of the system drive, one in the Windows folder, and one for each user folder, found here:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Local

which are only visible if you unhide hidden files, folders, and drives in Windows Explorer.

If you then set Explorer to unhide protected operating system files you can then search for Internet Explorer's temporary files, which are usually in the user's temp folder but not visible until you unhide them as just described. When you find them, browse to the Content.IE5 folder and delete its contents - not the folder itself. You can also make sure that the History and Cookie folders are empty as well. Don't forget to re-hide the protected operating system files when you're done.

Finally, boot into safe mode and do a defrag of the disk; this will nicely overwrite a large number of deleted files at no extra cost, without imperilling the Windows installation.

To check the effectiveness of using defrag, you can use a utility such as Recuva to see if anything is left that you want to delete. If I remember correctly, Recuva can be run from a USB pen drive, so you don't have to install anything.
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Author Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39982764
rindi - it looks like you skipped this "***for several reasons; i do not want to do a fresh install, or restore to factorey settings (it does not work)"

perarduastra - good info

who's next?
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Accepted Solution

by:
rindi earned 800 total points
ID: 39982783
Sorry nobus, I just noticed it was you asking, and yes, I read too fast! But anyway, do you have another set of HP recovery DVD's, maybe from another PC with the same OS, or do you know someone who has such a PC? Those DVD's should also work on yours.

If the above is no option, use CCLeaner to first clean the registry, history etc. It also includes a wiper which allows you to secure erase the empty parts of the disk. I tried that and getdataback wasn't able to find data to recover.

http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download/portable
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Author Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39983275
do you mean any hp windows 7 laptop recover DVD should work?
then i probably can make one
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Expert Comment

by:Mahesh
ID: 39983397
The complete profile deletion is the simplest way as my earlier comment based on your conditions mentioned in question
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Author Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39983464
Mahesh - youi only repeated what i posted in my Q; nothing new there
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 39983590
As long as the recovery DVD is from a similar HP PC with the same version of Windows 7 on it, it could work (I would at least try it out). The product keys on HP PC's are the same, and the OS is pre-activated anyway, so Licensing would not be an issue.
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Author Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39983646
ok -  i'll try that too
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Author Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39993506
could not yet find a similar DVD
i do have another question :
if i make a new account - and delete the old user, that will still leave his installed programs -right?
any way to deal with this - other than by uninstalling them manually from programs and software ?
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 39993526
You can use CCleaner for that (the tool I mentioned above), or revo uninstaller. Both of them can remove programs more completely than add/remove programs can. You can use them to remove all traces from the registry and other locations (at least revo can, which is what I've been using more):

http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/revo_uninstaller_portable
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LVL 93

Author Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39993531
tx rindi - but that is still a manual method (and i was aware of these)
anyway, i believe i have enough info to close this
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Author Closing Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39993537
i hoped for something better - but i guess this is it
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