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Freecycling an old computer

birdbb2012
Newbie
Posts: 4
Registered: 24-02-2012

Freecycling an old computer

I would like to pass on my now unused WinXP desktop.  It is not connected to the net but I now use a Win 7 laptop which is.  I want to ensure that no data on it is at risk.  I would prefer not to have to trash the disc.  Can anyone suggest a way of destroying the data so that the disk may be used by a future user.  Thankyou.
17 REPLIES
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
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Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Freecycling an old computer

Do you want to retain Windows XP, or would you prefer to wipe the disk?

Community Veteran
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Registered: 18-01-2013

Re: Freecycling an old computer

The most secure and fast way to erase the disk is with a sledgehammer - seriously !
You can also download Hirens Boot Disk (free) and use one of the many utilities on there to wipe the drive securely  - it will take many hours though.
Community Veteran
Posts: 17,760
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Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: Freecycling an old computer

How old is the machine?  if it is more than 5 years old.... then you may have difficulty giving it away.
You could buy a cheap...  (say).. 40gb HDD,  and put a new one in, with a more upto date OS on it... and then trash the old HDD
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,472
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Registered: 11-08-2007

Re: Freecycling an old computer

If the machine was loaded with say Ubuntu server, then it could be used for all sorts of things.
email handler, caching DNS, NAS file server, network backup, webserver, DLNA media streamer, torrent downloader, print server, local network cloud ... the possibilities are endless.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 14-07-2009

Re: Freecycling an old computer

Most laptops have a recovery partition.  Have a practise to make sure you can access this during boot-up but decline the recovery first time round.  Use a boot disc and utility to securely delete your main Windows partition.  Then access the recovery partition and restore your computer to its factory-supplied state.
fishrow
Grafter
Posts: 67
Registered: 31-08-2009

Re: Freecycling an old computer

These matters can get more complex sometimes than needed.
If you have the XP install disc then the disc could be wiped and then XP re-installed.
In that case the easiest way is to get a Linux Live cd, you boot that and there's a tool on them that will overwrite every part of the disk, though it will take some time. Then re-install XP.
If not, there are probably some freeware apps downloadable that would do a wipe of the free space. You would need to delete any history in Internet Explorer, all the temp directories, any other files you might have saved and empty Recycle Bin and then all that should be left is the O.S. files, the rest being the free space.
Some of the magazine dvds might have something on them also
Oh and do not believe anyone who says that if you had the XP disc then using its fdisk/diskpart and formatting will wipe the disk, it won't. All that does is delete the file table or indexes to all the files, just like ripping the contents or index page from a book, you can still read the text but it's difficult to find certain words.
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,976
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Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Freecycling an old computer

You need to write to every sector a number of times.
This is time consuming.

Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-06-2010

Re: Freecycling an old computer

Overwriting the disk once would be sufficient to prevent any normal undelete software that reads the disk via the PATA or SATA connection from finding anything.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 11-08-2007

Re: Freecycling an old computer

Many disk utilities have the option to write zeroes to the entire hard drive - including the boot record area.
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,976
Thanks: 265
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Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Freecycling an old computer

The boot record area is very easy to reconstruct - 90% is known already.
Gives you a good idea of how to tune your data reconstruction.
Probably best to not zeroise the MBR!

Community Veteran
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Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Freecycling an old computer

Zeros aren't enough. To be sure nuke it from orbit try Darik's Boot And Nuke.
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Community Veteran
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Freecycling an old computer

Quote from: shutter
How old is the machine?  if it is more than 5 years old.... then you may have difficulty giving it away.

LOL
I had 16 733MHz dell machines in the cupboard upstairs that I had intended to build a cluster with. For various reasons that never happened and I advertised the entire lot on freecycle. I had no trouble getting rid of them and they must have been at least 10 years old!
Old machines still have plenty of life in them. As long as it's not an old PII someone will find a use for it. A 733MHz machine will run WinXP - I've done it! I used the machine as a ICS host with a wireless card in AP mode and that was with Windows XP! Imagine how many people find similar uses with linux etc - quite a few! Lets not remember the Raspberry Pi isn't a powerhouse (although it's small and fanless admittedly) but people are still keen on them. I've also got around 6 machines stashed that are 1GHz+ that I intend to use again in the future (although I'll need to do something about the noisy fans lol).
Anyway yes old PCs do go on freecycle - quite easily!
As for the drive, I think eraser can work in dos / boot mode but if it can't you can erase an entire drive from windows so just pop it in another machine and use eraser to wipe it.
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
Community Veteran
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Registered: 18-01-2013

Re: Freecycling an old computer

I looked at using older machines for servers / access points etc but after doing the maths, found that every watt consumed equates to around £1 per year in electricity.
The performance vs power consumption just isn't worth it. The SFF 733Mhz machines I had were drawing around 120 watts when running so I bit the bullet and went for a HP E3-1220 ML110 G7 Server - it idles at around 30 watts (rarely !) but normal consumption is around the same as a single 733Mhz P3. I run various VMs on it each much more powerful than the smaller older machines.
One server is now doing the job of 5 different machines. I also have a few Acer Revos which consume around 20-40 watts for serving CCTV cameras and remote backup devices.
Oh and a couple of rPi's which I still have to decide what to do with .....
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,380
Thanks: 713
Fixes: 10
Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Freecycling an old computer

Not everyone can afford that sort of equipment though can they!
Like I said, you'll always find people who can / will make use of it somehow.
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!