Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
unstoppable
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:40 am

Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by unstoppable »

Our company is moving and next Tuesday I’m going into the office to grab my things. I’d like to backup my PC and erase everything. I’m going to use DriveImage XML and either back it up into OneDrive or an external hard drive.

After, I’d like to erase everything from the PC and just leave Windows 7 on the machine.

I’m not sure if they will allow me to use this PC moving forward so I want to ensure alil my files are fully off it. I was going to just “reset” the PC in windows 7, but a coworker told me someone could still potentially recover my old data?

Is there a recommended program for this or method without getting too detailed? I’ve heard EaseUS and some others mentioned. Anyone have any easy recommended tools/methods for a Win7 PC?

Thanks!
User avatar
willthrill81
Posts: 20960
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:17 pm
Location: USA

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by willthrill81 »

Software exists that can recover data from hard drives that have been reformatted several times. The only sure way to erase the data is to destroy the hard drive.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
jebmke
Posts: 11436
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm
Location: Delmarva Peninsula

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by jebmke »

normally what I would do is run DBAN and then re-install the OS. But W7 isn't supported so I wouldn't re-install W7.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
flyingcows
Posts: 147
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:13 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by flyingcows »

Back in the days before full drive encryption, I used to use a free program called boot and nuke:

https://dban.org/

This will write random data over all of your storage. Just to be clear, as you mentioned “Leaving Windows 7”, that means nothing would remain, including Windows. If this is a company computer, make sure that won’t be a problem (i used to do this, but ymmv)
Normchad
Posts: 1318
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:20 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by Normchad »

flyingcows wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:57 pm Back in the days before full drive encryption, I used to use a free program called boot and nuke:

https://dban.org/

This will write random data over all of your storage. Just to be clear, as you mentioned “Leaving Windows 7”, that means nothing would remain, including Windows. If this is a company computer, make sure that won’t be a problem (i used to do this, but ymmv)
DBAN is the answer. Simple, easy. Very effective.
rkhusky
Posts: 10211
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:09 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by rkhusky »

Or just turn on whole-disk encryption. It's built into Windows. Look for BitLocker.

See: https://www.howtogeek.com/192894/how-to ... n-windows/
User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 9127
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by whodidntante »

No need to buy anything. Delete all your data files and empty the recycle bin. Then use the cipher command to securely wipe free space. E.g., to wipe c:, command thusly:

Code: Select all

cipher /w:c:\
If you really need it gone in an a "good luck NSA" kind of way, you want physical destruction.
User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 9127
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by whodidntante »

rkhusky wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 8:55 pm Or just turn on whole-disk encryption. It's built into Windows. Look for BitLocker.

See: https://www.howtogeek.com/192894/how-to ... n-windows/
MS has made it a bit easy to recover keys for my taste.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 20705
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by Watty »

One issue that you will have is that wiping a drive can take a long time to run so be sure to look into that. It could take a lot longer than you can stay in the office.

A few months ago I used ccleaner to wipe a drive and I started it before I went to bed and it was still running the next morning. I just used ccleaner because that is what I knew about and used ten years ago. Probably not the best way to pick software. :D

I would suspect that encrypting the hard drive would also take a very long time.
tibbitts
Posts: 11947
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by tibbitts »

unstoppable wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:41 pm Our company is moving and next Tuesday I’m going into the office to grab my things. I’d like to backup my PC and erase everything. I’m going to use DriveImage XML and either back it up into OneDrive or an external hard drive.

After, I’d like to erase everything from the PC and just leave Windows 7 on the machine.

I’m not sure if they will allow me to use this PC moving forward so I want to ensure alil my files are fully off it. I was going to just “reset” the PC in windows 7, but a coworker told me someone could still potentially recover my old data?

Is there a recommended program for this or method without getting too detailed? I’ve heard EaseUS and some others mentioned. Anyone have any easy recommended tools/methods for a Win7 PC?

Thanks!
Does your company have extended win7 support?

In any case, since this is a company PC, would you really have any data on it that you'd be that concerned about? When I left my job I had a Mac and just used Disk Utility, but I wasn't worried that worried about someone recovering data, since the data essentially belonged to my employer anyway.
Normchad
Posts: 1318
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:20 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by Normchad »

It is interesting to me, that OP works at a place, where his data apparently isn't stored on a network drive or backed up anywhere. (I plan to copy everything off before the move).

It also seems interesting that the company is moving, but he may end up with a different computer after the move?

Anyway, DBAN will destroy everything. But if this is just good hygiene, you should be fine deleting your files, emptying the recycle bin, etc.

If it was my computer, and I was giving it away, I would use DBAN. Just drop the disk in the tray, boot the machine, and walk away. However long it takes, I'm sure it will be done (or done enough) when you need it to be.

Probably the correct answer is to ask your company IT department what you should do.
Topic Author
unstoppable
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:40 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by unstoppable »

Normchad wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:47 pm It is interesting to me, that OP works at a place, where his data apparently isn't stored on a network drive or backed up anywhere. (I plan to copy everything off before the move).

It also seems interesting that the company is moving, but he may end up with a different computer after the move?

Anyway, DBAN will destroy everything. But if this is just good hygiene, you should be fine deleting your files, emptying the recycle bin, etc.

If it was my computer, and I was giving it away, I would use DBAN. Just drop the disk in the tray, boot the machine, and walk away. However long it takes, I'm sure it will be done (or done enough) when you need it to be.

Probably the correct answer is to ask your company IT department what you should do.
In an ideal world, we’d have an IT department or any tech help. We are a small company and there’s zero oversight on anyone’s computer. I might lose the PC as our CEO wants to switch everyone to laptops. I’m using a Dell desktop from 2012 with two different monitors, random keyboard and mouse. It’s a mess at our company and id imagine there’s a bunch of other companies big and small that have zero protocol. There’s no backups. No shared drives other than Google Drive but only for a few excels etc.
Topic Author
unstoppable
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:40 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by unstoppable »

tibbitts wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:26 pm
unstoppable wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:41 pm Our company is moving and next Tuesday I’m going into the office to grab my things. I’d like to backup my PC and erase everything. I’m going to use DriveImage XML and either back it up into OneDrive or an external hard drive.

After, I’d like to erase everything from the PC and just leave Windows 7 on the machine.

I’m not sure if they will allow me to use this PC moving forward so I want to ensure alil my files are fully off it. I was going to just “reset” the PC in windows 7, but a coworker told me someone could still potentially recover my old data?

Is there a recommended program for this or method without getting too detailed? I’ve heard EaseUS and some others mentioned. Anyone have any easy recommended tools/methods for a Win7 PC?

Thanks!
Does your company have extended win7 support?

In any case, since this is a company PC, would you really have any data on it that you'd be that concerned about? When I left my job I had a Mac and just used Disk Utility, but I wasn't worried that worried about someone recovering data, since the data essentially belonged to my employer anyway.
I’m not sure about the extended support. It’s kind of a free for all at my company with little oversight on devices. I’ve had this desktop since 2012, so just a bunch of random personal files too over the years. Probably nothing I’d care about too much but still rather have it all off. If I end up keeping the PC it’s a nice fresh start as the folders and everything have gotten sloppy over the years.
Normchad
Posts: 1318
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:20 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by Normchad »

unstoppable wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:12 pm
Normchad wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:47 pm It is interesting to me, that OP works at a place, where his data apparently isn't stored on a network drive or backed up anywhere. (I plan to copy everything off before the move).

It also seems interesting that the company is moving, but he may end up with a different computer after the move?

Anyway, DBAN will destroy everything. But if this is just good hygiene, you should be fine deleting your files, emptying the recycle bin, etc.

If it was my computer, and I was giving it away, I would use DBAN. Just drop the disk in the tray, boot the machine, and walk away. However long it takes, I'm sure it will be done (or done enough) when you need it to be.

Probably the correct answer is to ask your company IT department what you should do.
In an ideal world, we’d have an IT department or any tech help. We are a small company and there’s zero oversight on anyone’s computer. I might lose the PC as our CEO wants to switch everyone to laptops. I’m using a Dell desktop from 2012 with two different monitors, random keyboard and mouse. It’s a mess at our company and id imagine there’s a bunch of other companies big and small that have zero protocol. There’s no backups. No shared drives other than Google Drive but only for a few excels etc.
Yikes! That sounds like a nightmare. Having decent IT infrastructure is as important now as having water and electricity...... Good businesses can't function for long like this.....
student
Posts: 5161
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:58 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by student »

Use veracrypt to encrypt the drive and then reinstall windows.
oldfort
Posts: 1753
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:45 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by oldfort »

willthrill81 wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:43 pm Software exists that can recover data from hard drives that have been reformatted several times. The only sure way to erase the data is to destroy the hard drive.
If the hard drive has been over-written once, the data is unrecoverable for all practical purposes. With any type of full disk encryption, wiping the encryption key has the same result. If you need a higher level of security than this because your threat model includes being the target of a high profile FBI investigation, you may need to rethink some of the other choices you've made in life.
Topic Author
unstoppable
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:40 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by unstoppable »

Normchad wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:20 pm
unstoppable wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:12 pm
Normchad wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:47 pm It is interesting to me, that OP works at a place, where his data apparently isn't stored on a network drive or backed up anywhere. (I plan to copy everything off before the move).

It also seems interesting that the company is moving, but he may end up with a different computer after the move?

Anyway, DBAN will destroy everything. But if this is just good hygiene, you should be fine deleting your files, emptying the recycle bin, etc.

If it was my computer, and I was giving it away, I would use DBAN. Just drop the disk in the tray, boot the machine, and walk away. However long it takes, I'm sure it will be done (or done enough) when you need it to be.

Probably the correct answer is to ask your company IT department what you should do.
In an ideal world, we’d have an IT department or any tech help. We are a small company and there’s zero oversight on anyone’s computer. I might lose the PC as our CEO wants to switch everyone to laptops. I’m using a Dell desktop from 2012 with two different monitors, random keyboard and mouse. It’s a mess at our company and id imagine there’s a bunch of other companies big and small that have zero protocol. There’s no backups. No shared drives other than Google Drive but only for a few excels etc.
Yikes! That sounds like a nightmare. Having decent IT infrastructure is as important now as having water and electricity...... Good businesses can't function for long like this.....
It’s a mess. I’m really the only one even looking out at stuff like this.

Heck we don’t even have password management. Passwords are literally sitting in text files on Drive.
rich126
Posts: 2011
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:56 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by rich126 »

I hope this company does not deal with credit cards or any personal data. Sounds like a complete disaster in the making.
johnnyc321
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:24 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by johnnyc321 »

I have used a program called eraser to clear many drives. I just used it 2 weeks ago on some old hard drives at home because I consolidated all my old stuff on to a new external drive. It will run on only the empty drive space so no need to worry about it wiping windows off the disk. You can also use it to secure erase individual files. Unless your drives contain very sensitive data, 1 pass is sufficient.
Topic Author
unstoppable
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:40 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by unstoppable »

rich126 wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:36 pm I hope this company does not deal with credit cards or any personal data. Sounds like a complete disaster in the making.
Nothing like that. But definitely needs to be improved. No sensitive customer data like that thankfully.
anjou
Posts: 164
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:55 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by anjou »

Using a USB key boot Linux, see https://ubuntu.com/tutorials/create-a-u ... 1-overview

Erase the hard drive using shred. You can find the hard drive number by executing the first command
$ ls /dev/sd*
/dev/sda /dev/sda1 /dev/sda2 /dev/sda5
$ shred --verbose -n1 /dev/sda5

No need to reinstall Windows, IT will do it anyways.
bob60014
Posts: 1698
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:59 pm
Location: The Land Beyond ORD

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by bob60014 »

As everything is so lax, pop the old drive out and insert a new one. Let the next user figure out the OS install! JK! :)
User avatar
SmileyFace
Posts: 5725
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:11 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by SmileyFace »

Just delete and use the cipher command as mentioned above. It might take a while depending upon disk size but you can run it and leave (have computer set for shutdown upon inactivity).
rkhusky
Posts: 10211
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:09 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by rkhusky »

whodidntante wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:11 pm No need to buy anything. Delete all your data files and empty the recycle bin. Then use the cipher command to securely wipe free space. E.g., to wipe c:, command thusly:

Code: Select all

cipher /w:c:\
If you really need it gone in an a "good luck NSA" kind of way, you want physical destruction.
+1
I forgot about that one. Easiest solution.
jebmke
Posts: 11436
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm
Location: Delmarva Peninsula

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by jebmke »

rkhusky wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 6:57 am I forgot about that one. Easiest solution.
Possibly frowned upon if this PC is owned by the employer.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 9127
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by whodidntante »

oldfort wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:28 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:43 pm Software exists that can recover data from hard drives that have been reformatted several times. The only sure way to erase the data is to destroy the hard drive.
If the hard drive has been over-written once, the data is unrecoverable for all practical purposes. With any type of full disk encryption, wiping the encryption key has the same result. If you need a higher level of security than this because your threat model includes being the target of a high profile FBI investigation, you may need to rethink some of the other choices you've made in life.
Bitlocker is pretty decent if you actually keep the key secure, but the problem with Bitlocker is that MS makes it pretty easy to recover the key. They provide the capability to save it to OneDrive, which you may have on a corporate PC without even realizing it. And, if the PC is on a domain as most corporate PCs are, then your IT department likely has the encryption keys for all of your local disks. My IT department successfully proved this to me when I needed the key for mine. Also, sometimes people make other backups to plain text files or to printouts. As part of encrypting a disk, MS prompts you to do this. Then the person may not secure those copies. And most people don't destroy the key anyway, so IT can just create a new account or change your password. Before you know it, they are looking at whatever you thought was protected.
oldfort
Posts: 1753
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:45 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by oldfort »

whodidntante wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:36 am
oldfort wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:28 pm
willthrill81 wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:43 pm Software exists that can recover data from hard drives that have been reformatted several times. The only sure way to erase the data is to destroy the hard drive.
If the hard drive has been over-written once, the data is unrecoverable for all practical purposes. With any type of full disk encryption, wiping the encryption key has the same result. If you need a higher level of security than this because your threat model includes being the target of a high profile FBI investigation, you may need to rethink some of the other choices you've made in life.
Bitlocker is pretty decent if you actually keep the key secure, but the problem with Bitlocker is that MS makes it pretty easy to recover the key. They provide the capability to save it to OneDrive, which you may have on a corporate PC without even realizing it. And, if the PC is on a domain as most corporate PCs are, then your IT department likely has the encryption keys for all of your local disks. My IT department successfully proved this to me when I needed the key for mine. Also, sometimes people make other backups to plain text files or to printouts. As part of encrypting a disk, MS prompts you to do this. Then the person may not secure those copies. And most people don't destroy the key anyway, so IT can just create a new account or change your password. Before you know it, they are looking at whatever you thought was protected.
If you work for a megacorp, you should follow whatever policies get set by corporate security and the IT department for your work computers. It doesn't matter if these are the "right" policies, they set the rules. The issue with the OP as best as I can infer, it's a small business with a non-existent IT department.
jebmke
Posts: 11436
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm
Location: Delmarva Peninsula

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by jebmke »

oldfort wrote: Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:04 am as best as I can infer, it's a small business with a non-existent IT department.
That's what I figured as well. Otherwise, they likely wouldn't still be running W7.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
testing321
Posts: 215
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 6:46 pm
Location: kansas city

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by testing321 »

Microsoft has a free utility that will erase free space, SDELETE.exe. Just google it.
hudson
Posts: 3259
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 9:15 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by hudson »

unstoppable wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:41 pm Our company is moving and next Tuesday I’m going into the office to grab my things. I’d like to backup my PC and erase everything. I’m going to use DriveImage XML and either back it up into OneDrive or an external hard drive.

After, I’d like to erase everything from the PC and just leave Windows 7 on the machine.

I’m not sure if they will allow me to use this PC moving forward so I want to ensure alil my files are fully off it. I was going to just “reset” the PC in windows 7, but a coworker told me someone could still potentially recover my old data?

Is there a recommended program for this or method without getting too detailed? I’ve heard EaseUS and some others mentioned. Anyone have any easy recommended tools/methods for a Win7 PC?

Thanks!
unstoppable,
It depends on how much you want to protect the data. If it's really critical, take the old hard drive and put in a new one. Take the old hard drive home and throw it in a drawer or physically destroy it.
I'd get permission to do anything. I would not do anything on the sly.
If it's not that critical, I'd just delete what you want and empty the recycle bin. Then move on. I worked in IT and that's how I left my last computer.
supalong52
Posts: 312
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by supalong52 »

Sounds like this computer is going to be scrap. I would just remove the hard drive and call it a day.
arf30
Posts: 738
Joined: Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:55 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by arf30 »

Last computer had an SSD, so I wiped it with one of those secure delete utilities on a bootable USB stick and then smashed the drive into a million pieces with a hammer. Then I put the computer on the curb without the drive and someone grabbed it within an hour.
bugleheadd
Posts: 333
Joined: Fri Nov 29, 2019 11:25 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by bugleheadd »

if its a work computer, shouldnt it only have work related stuff on it? I would just let company IT dept take care of it, they must have some procedure in place to wipe data. or if its data you need, doesnt your company have servers or cloud where files are backed up? usually when i get new computer from company they restore everything on the new comp; any files are already on the shared drives.
Dottie57
Posts: 9200
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm
Location: Earth Northern Hemisphere

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by Dottie57 »

Normchad wrote: Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:47 pm It is interesting to me, that OP works at a place, where his data apparently isn't stored on a network drive or backed up anywhere. (I plan to copy everything off before the move).
........
Probably the correct answer is to ask your company IT department what you should do.
+1
Topic Author
unstoppable
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:40 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by unstoppable »

I was just watching a YouTube video where they mentioned to create a new user as an admin and remove the others.

Also, is there any reason Windows doesn’t have their own tool within the interface for a safe transition of a PC to someone else without 3rd party software?

Has anyone tried Macrorit? Saw it mentioned on a top software list.
adestefan
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:22 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by adestefan »

Why not just take the drive out of the computer and lock it in your desk drawer?
Topic Author
unstoppable
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:40 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by unstoppable »

It will likely be reused. Just want to it to be Windows ready like it is now, without any files on it other than maybe programs.

I tried to upload my DriveImage XML file to OneDruve but it flagged it as “suspicious activity” and closed access temporarily. It’s a 402gig backup of work videos and documents etc.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 20705
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by Watty »

unstoppable wrote: Sat Sep 26, 2020 5:18 pm Also, is there any reason Windows doesn’t have their own tool within the interface for a safe transition of a PC to someone else without 3rd party software?
Several people already mentioned the cipher command.
oldfort
Posts: 1753
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:45 pm

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by oldfort »

unstoppable wrote: Sat Sep 26, 2020 5:18 pm I was just watching a YouTube video where they mentioned to create a new user as an admin and remove the others.

Also, is there any reason Windows doesn’t have their own tool within the interface for a safe transition of a PC to someone else without 3rd party software?

Has anyone tried Macrorit? Saw it mentioned on a top software list.
Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows Pro have a lot of powerful built in tools for managing security. Realistically, there's not going to be a lot of demand for secure wipes with personally owned computers. Odds are someone only gets rids of their family computer when it's either broke or obsolete(worthless).
Mudpuppy
Posts: 6445
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by Mudpuppy »

I'm surprised no one has asked this yet. Does this computer have a spinning hard drive or a SSD? The age of the system is recent enough that it could be either. If it's a spinning hard drive, then any of the software mentioned in this thread will work. I'm personally partial to DBAN or booting up Linux and running dd for several passes.

If it's an SSD though, there's no user-level software that can guarantee to delete all the data, because the SSD firmware may have swapped out blocks that were getting close to failure and some data will still reside on those blocks. The only way to wipe those swapped out blocks is with whatever utilities the SSD firmware provides (if they provide any at all).

This is why I always encrypt my work SSDs and NVME drives with Linux cryptsetup. If the firmware swaps out an encrypted block, it SHOULD be like a random blob of data without the key. Even though I'm not directly dealing with Level 1 data (e.g. SSNs, credit card numbers, etc.) at my agency, I am dealing with enough Level 2 data (names, addresses, etc.) to take this precaution.
Topic Author
unstoppable
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:40 am

Re: Erasing everything off a computer? Any software?

Post by unstoppable »

Thanks everyone.

I’ll keep it simple and remove my user account, delete any remaining non program folders and then run the cypher command before I leave and set a task to shut down after inactivity in task scheduler (need to figure that out).

Seems the easiest. No bootable USB, and windows intact and I’m sure overly good enough for this purpose.

Thanks!
Post Reply