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SW FL Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 04:32 PM
Original message
How do I remove personal info from a computer I am going to give away
Just got a new computer and was planning to give my old one away to my local freecycle group. I have copied everything I need from the old hard drive. Can I format the hard drive using DOS? Since the puter came with Windows ME preinstalled, I don't have a disk to reinstall Windows. Any help is appreciated. TIA
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 05:52 PM
Response to Original message
1. Pull the hard drives out and pound them to pieces with a hammer. nt
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Berserker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I use this
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Freebird12004 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 05:27 PM
Response to Reply #1
14. LOL
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FloridaPat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 09:44 PM
Response to Original message
3. I reformat the hard drive. That is the only super safe way. Just because
this progam says it can erase everything, you have to be in a position to prove it. It can delete stuff, but does it go into the disk and actaully erase it? And how much does it erase? It could just erase the file location information, and someone can still go in and read the disk. Rather boring way to spend a weekend, but possible.

Reformat.
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Jersey Devil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 10:03 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. It can be unformatted
Edited on Fri Jan-28-05 10:05 PM by Jersey Devil
Norton Utilities can unformat a disk and retrieve the information on it after formatting.

Overwriting is the only way to "erase". Another good program for doing that is the "wipe" feature in Norton System Works.

Other programs, including DOS, can do the same thing.

http://www.uneraser.com/quest12.htm
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Osamasux Donating Member (846 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 11:18 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Even if you didn't unformat it, you could do direct sector reads
then piece the info together.

You are correct that wipedisk is the way to go. You want something rated for the Department of Defense (DOD) standard. It requires rewriting every sector on the entire disc three times. You will then never be able to tell what was there originally.

This describes the standard.
http://www.killdisk.com/dod.htm
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SW FL Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 11:48 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. OK - I guess I won't give the computer away
I was trying to avoid adding it to the landfill. The only private stuff on there is personal financial info but it doesn't seem worth it to go through all those steps.
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Berserker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 06:37 AM
Response to Reply #3
8. Reformat does not do what you think it does
you need to use the Gutmann method to erase a hard drive it will erase 1, 3 or 7 times. It writes over the drive and makes it very very costly for anyone to try and recover the data. And yes they can always recover the data off your hard drive. Unless you are suspected by the government of having top secret data from black ops missions on your drive you have nothing to fear by using the Eraser Nuke Floppy.
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Prisoner_Number_Six Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-31-05 11:42 PM
Response to Reply #3
16. Reformatting is not enough.
I've recovered data and files intact from hard drives that have been reformatted and new operating systems installed three and four times over several years. Forensic grade recovery software is extremely easy to obtain and use-- and so is secure hard drive scrubber software. That's the only way to go.

I use this one (professional version)-- http://www.itred.com/DriveScrubber.htm
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McKenzie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:12 AM
Response to Original message
7. depends
if the ENTIRE disk was overwritten to DoD standard it would be clean enough to avoid file recovery by third party utilities; Gutmann standard if you are paranoid. Completely filling the disk with games, big proggies etc first would add to the security.

Best thing to do is to remove the HDD.

And, as others in this thread have observed, formatting does not destroy the data.
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Jersey Devil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 09:54 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. So using a hammer as suggested by bemildred is the correct answer
Personally I wouldn't worry about it if I were giving a computer to a friend but I would use a government standard overwrite before doing so. I doubt anyone who doesn't own a computer could figure out how to retrieve info from a disk.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 10:46 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. Mr Berserker is correct too, but my way is quicker. nt
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McKenzie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #9
15. you are absolutely bang on the money
third part uitilities such as "Filerecover" rely on the sectors the file resides on not being overwritten.

After a thorough overwrite magnetic analysis can still recover data but at huge cost. Criminals use a process known as "degaussing" to foil detailed analysis of HDD's and removeable media.

For you and I, overwriting to DoD standard is fine, particularly if random characters are used.
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 10:26 AM
Response to Original message
10. Free software: Deep Delete
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leftyandproud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
12. easy
http://dban.sourceforge.net /

download...put it on a floppy, reboot and choose the shortest option (can take an hour or longer...but completely destroys all traces of data. The government uses this method)
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democracyindanger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
13. Easiest way
Take out the hard drive and give the rest of the computer away. Take the hard drive to a recycling center, if you can. Computer parts are loaded with heavy metals.

Whoever you give the computer to will probably have extra hard drives laying around anyway.
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Tandalayo_Scheisskopf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-01-05 06:30 AM
Response to Original message
17. There is another way...
Albeit not so fast, but thorough:

Every new HDD comes with a disk for setting up the HDD. Some of them(Maxtor comes to mind) have a utility that allows for a low-level format, which over-writes the disk with ones and zeros. Mostly zeros. From the first block and sector to the last. These disks can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website and usually are free.

Another option.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-01-05 08:22 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. Yeah, I used to like to do that.
Sometimes you could get some sort of disk BIOS prompt and feed it
a "GOTO addr" command, which would do a low-level format and erase.

SCSI utilities generally have a way to do that too. But it seemed a
bit too technical and iffy as to what the exact directions would be.

You would expect modern smart drives to have ways to do this.

In most actual cases now (barring the hammer method) I would mount it
under FreeBSD, re-partition it as one big filesystem, and do something
like:

"dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/rawdisk", with some repetitions.

But that seemed a bit technical and iffy too.

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