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safely remove personal data from DELL Latitude E4610

Posted on 2015-01-11
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
has a laptop DELL Latitude E4610 whom the user wanted to remove his personal data from the laptop before returning to the company. he does not remember his logon password. what are the workarounds (besides removing the hard disk) to be able to see the laptop data without knowing the logon password?
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Question by:grnow
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19 Comments
 
LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:awawada
ID: 40543309
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LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 40543310
Run killdisk or like and format the machine a couple of times.

If the user is not allowed to do this, then the user needs the password. No miracles here.

Ask the company to remove personal data. Most (hardly all) companies are honorable.
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LVL 18

Assisted Solution

by:web_tracker
web_tracker earned 100 total points
ID: 40543327
If you only want to remove the user password it is hard to remove it without having the user's password and not removing the hard drive and connecting to an external device. You can use self booting discs to wipe the whole drive, but I am sure that is not what your client wants. You can try booting to a self booting disc such as the Ultimate boot disc, and try to wipe the user profile that way, as there are some wiping utilities on this disc. https://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
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LVL 62

Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 40543331
Although it's possible to get into the system you should bear in mind that strictly the laptop doesn't belong to them and is the property of their company - who may not take kindly to their corporately imaged machines being wiped by a third party.

Chances are in reality they probably won't mind and DBAN is as good a route as any to flatten it but just pointing out a potential issue.
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 40543355
Assuming you don't want to wipe the machine, I'd just remove the hard drive (I know you said you didn't want to do that, but I assume you were referring to removing and wiping it);  attach it to another system; "take ownership" of the user's files; and then delete them all.

Then just replace the hard drive.    The user's account will still be there; but the data won't :-)
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
ID: 40543405
Since this is about a company laptop, do you know if the hard drive is encrypted? If it is encrypted with for example BitLocker then without password there is nothing you can do to get to the personal data. What about just asking for a password reset and then cleanup that data?
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Author Comment

by:grnow
ID: 40544741
Thanks for all the ideas. DBAN is good if the laptop is personal. the user says getting the company IT to help reset the password is impossible. For Ultimate Boot CD, which option is the one to select to be able to see the partitions folders etc. Would be we able to run some Linux OS to boot from the CD to see the folders?
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LVL 70

Accepted Solution

by:
garycase earned 150 total points
ID: 40544822
You can boot to Knoppix and see the user's folders.  [Unless, of course, the data happens to be encrypted, as noted above.   If that's the case you're simply out of luck -- the only way to remove it in that case without the password is to simply wipe the drive.]
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LVL 92

Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 200 total points
ID: 40544832
on the UBCD, you may want to run the nordahl's offline password registry editor
find it in the /HDD/Data Recovery section
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
ID: 40544953
>> company IT to help reset the password is impossible
Then we have to conclude that the user is no longer working for the company or is not allowed access to company resources for some other reason. If a Linux boot CD or password reset does not work, just wipe the drive. Companies can easily re-image the laptop and the user is sure that no personal data is ending up with the company.
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:web_tracker
ID: 40545901
It is possible that the IT department changed the user's password to prevent the user from accessing their network with the laptop, that may be the reason the user maybe saying he may have forgot the password. Wiping the drive may put the person in hot water, but since the user is no longer part of the company what can they do fire him... he already no longer works for the company. You can either wipe the drive or put in another drive of the same size.   That would be the quickest as Dban takes many hours to run depending on the wipe type and the size of the drive. If your time is valuable just replace the drive. Then it is totally impossible for anyone to recover the person's data.
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Author Comment

by:grnow
ID: 40545951
changing to a new hard disk would be another option ideal if the company is ok with it. tried with UBCD nordahl's offline password registry editor and pcloginnow.. it seems to just hang on the screen. tried to boot with Linux Mint, can see the partition drives data. how to ensure that the data deleted from the hard disk is non recoverable?
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Author Comment

by:grnow
ID: 40545959
is there anyway to reset the user password once logged into linux mint for e.g?
http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:web_tracker
ID: 40545992
You can not ensure the data is deleted unless you can log into the computer. the utilities that come with UBCD, wipe the whole drive, you can not wipe only specific files or folders with this basic applications.
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LVL 92

Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 200 total points
ID: 40546068
>>  how to ensure that the data deleted from the hard disk is non recoverable?   <<  then you need to run something like BCWipe :  http://www.jetico.com/products/personal-privacy/bcwipe/
you can run this when the disk is attached as 2nd drive to a running PC
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LVL 38

Assisted Solution

by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE earned 50 total points
ID: 40546314
>> if the company is ok with it
What is allowed by the company? That is the main question here I guess. If  you answer that question you can make a choice of the options already give above. You already know that you cannot get a new password for the user. Whether you are allowed to wipe/replace/remove the drive is the question that you need to get answered.
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Author Comment

by:grnow
ID: 40555166
finally manage to take a look at the user pc. tried out booting with linux cd realized the cd drive is not working. last option but to remove the hard disk and emphasize to user to only retrieve or delete personal data. most of the company info is left intact and user is relieved she retrieved some family photos from it.
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40555193
tx for feedback
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:web_tracker
ID: 40555906
This should be a lesson to all never leave personal information on a company laptop, or computer, it can cause a lot of embarrassment, or can cause other grief, due to lost data, or data getting in the wrong hands.

Thanks for the feedback.
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