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Hard Drive Clean-Up

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Hard Drive Clean-Up

Hi, can anyone help me, please. I am selling my old computer and have transferred all required stuff onto my new one. My question is, despite deleting files/programs does the hard-drive retain this information and if so how do I delete it? I work from home so have a customer database and accounts programs. Thanks

Shaun
8 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,469
Registered: 30-07-2007

Hard Drive Clean-Up

You need to use one of the many secure delete apps which overwrite deleted data with garbage to ensure the actual data is gone. It should also allow you to clear out your free space which is where deleted files end up.

It is possible to recover deleted files even when you empty the recycle bin so you need to use the above type of app to ensure your data cannot be recovered if it is sensitive.

I have used the following free utility in the past:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/Security/SDelete.mspx

Note that is a sysinternals app, not a microsoft one - MS bought sysinternals.

Note2: By its nature it will delete files in such a way as they cannot be recovered so be very careful what you delete. If you have already deleted all your files, use the -z option to wipe your free space.
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,315
Thanks: 973
Fixes: 57
Registered: 15-06-2007

Hard Drive Clean-Up

If you want to delete everything on all your drives this one is quite good http://dban.sourceforge.net/features.html.
This topic is discussed in this thread which may be worth a read http://www.dslreports.com/forum/remark,18086182
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Hard Drive Clean-Up

Many thanks for your speedy responses.
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Hard Drive Clean-Up

Remember its not just a matter or deleting the files you know your credit card details usernames and password may be stored in places you dont know.

Many people just delete the files they know and dont format the drive and wipe it and they leave all the real data behind.

If you have customers detail you would be legally obliged to get rid of the files under the Data Protection Act
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Hard Drive Clean-Up

OK, thanks for info Bright Spark.
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Hard Drive Clean-Up

If you're selling the PC and still have the install discs then I'd strongly suggest you wipe the entire drive using something like DBAN and do a complete re-install.

Over the course of time computers are heavily customised to the user and collect a lot of data. Re-installing will allow the user to start again from scratch. This will also give the user confidence that there is no malware on the system- nothing can survive a complete drive re-write and O/S re-install.
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Hard Drive Clean-Up

Thank you for this information.
I have a CD-Rom which allows recovery of the system as delivered, and reconfiguration of the operating system. I also have the Windows 2000 Service Pack Disc that came with the computer originally. Are these the install discs that you are suggesting I use??

Thanks again

Shaun
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Hard Drive Clean-Up

These are probably full system restore discs, do check that it isn't simply a bootable disc to start the install from a hidden partition on the drive though. If you run any kind of drive wiping tool then it might wipe the hidden partition as well, so won't have anything to install from.

As a rough guide if the CD is in the hundreds of megabytes then it's probably a full install disc, bootable discs to install from the hidden partition tend to be a handful of megabytes at the most.

Do check you system documentation or with your manufacturer if you're not sure though.