Wiping a computers memory

Dell / OPTIPLEX 320
April 27, 2009 at 10:20:30
Specs: Windows XP, 2Mb
I just bought a new laptop and I want to give my old pc to a coworkers children. It's slow but still works fine. The problem is that I want to restore to factory settings and wipe the memory clean in case there is any way for someone to recover any sensitive info that I have input. I know the minimum about computers, but I believe someone once told me anything is recoverable if someone knows how. I don't believe I have recovery discs. I never heard the term before I purchased my new laptop yesterday.

And is there an easy way for a novice to create recovery discs?

Lastly, what is the best brand of antivirus and internet security software available? The only name I'm familiar with is Norton but I've read a lot of negative things about it.

Please help

See More: Wiping a computers memory

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April 27, 2009 at 10:29:45
If you bought the old computer brand new and you never made any restore disks then you may still be able to do that.

OEM computers like Dell allow you to make ONE restore set in case your hard drive were to die. In order to just reset to factory condition you can do that without the disks.

You will need to read the manual for your Dell in order to learn how. It usually involves hitting a certain key/s at start up to enter the recovery mode.

I would recommend you try to create the restore disks because sooner or later someone will need them.

Also, be sure you copy all your personal files to CDR or DVDR prior to resetting the drive to factory settings.

Be sure to label any restore disks you create with the description of which computer they go to.

Norton and McAfee are both bloatware. Below is a link to one that many here use.


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April 27, 2009 at 11:17:17
You need to Format your harddrive. But then people can still get
your information from the formatted harddrive, until that data is overwritten with new data.
After format, use another parties software to write junk data onto every part of the harddrive, then Format again.
Harddrive manufacturers make a Utility program for download that can perform the following tasks: drive copy, diagnose a drive for problems, write zeros or low level format a drive, provide drive information, create bootup disk, and provide ATA Ultra management.

Here is a FUNNY link for how not to recover data ---
How not to recover data from a harddrive

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April 27, 2009 at 12:13:29
Thanks, when I start my new laptop for the first time, will it prompt me on how to make recovery discs if it does not come with? It is compaq presario CQ60-215DX. It is my first laptop and I'm dying to open it, but scared to screw it up.

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Related Solutions

April 27, 2009 at 12:25:22
If you decide to try wiping the OLD hard drive you need to be careful not to also wipe the hidden partition that contains the restore files.

Most wiping tools will wipe the ENTIRE hard drive, not just one partition.

If you make the restore disks as mentioned above you can first test them and then you should be able to safely wipe the entire drive and then apply the restore set.

If you keep sensitive information stored on your hard drive you should consider modifying your habits. SS#, bank account#s, etc, don't belong on your hard drive, IMO. If you don't have that type of information then just restore the drive to factory settings and don't worry about any other information.

I assume you have a relationship with the people you intend to give the computer to.

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April 27, 2009 at 12:30:39
I pay almost all of my bills online and do a lot of online banking. Just worried about someone recovering bank account info and passwords. Identity theft is scary, I don't want to be foolish and leave myself open for thieves. If they ever get rid of it I don't know who will acquire it.

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April 27, 2009 at 12:50:19
Well, you are always at risk if you save any passwords or account numbers on your computer. IMO it is best not to save that sort of info on the computer at all. Enter when needed.

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April 27, 2009 at 19:18:49
You can go to a local computer store and they may be able to provide you with an OEM disk. With this and the serial on the bottom of the computer you can put a fresh install on the hard drive. Back up your files (file-setting transfer wizard is good for this: start>programs>accessories>system tools) Now you can put in your OEM disk, follow instructions for new installation. This will format the computer and put enough info over the old data that only a serious pro will be able to recover anything.
As for youre new computer, it will actually ask you to do this as soon as you get into windows (i have the same computer). if you dont tell it to leave you alone it will remind you to until you actually do it. Requires 3 DVDs. I could not get past the second disk though. It failed verification 4 times.

The Beginner

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April 27, 2009 at 19:42:36
you need to format your harddisk,or rebuild hard disk partition.
In my opinion,the best antivirus is rising form China,it is very security,and it can protect your computer .

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April 27, 2009 at 20:53:22
What I would do is run Dban on your old PC. That will nuke ALL the info on the drive and then, if you have an install disc for XP, re-install it fresh, if you don't have one, ask around to friends and neighbors, etc and re-install XP. You will have to use the numbers that came with the disc and you can always change that after you activate it, or before, using the numbers on your case. If your case sticker says XP home, then you will need a version of Home to install and vice versa.
Good luck.
You may have to call MS to activate it, but that will work fine.

Better to nuke all info on the drive before transfering it to someone else, no matter who it is.

Some HELP in posting on Computing.net plus free progs and instructions Cheers

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April 27, 2009 at 23:35:45
Thanks to everyone who tried to help me. I love this site. You guys (or girls?) know everything.

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April 28, 2009 at 01:53:05
A lot of good/useful advice above... Sadly the only way to really ensure that all "your" personal/critical data is not accessible in any way by anyone who gets at the drive later... is to remove sed drive; take it to bits and remove platters (disks); smash them with a hammer then burn them and grind the ashes to fine powder and scatter them over a wide area (preferably form hecilopter over the ocean on a sunny day). Or simply hammer the drive overall; then burn it at high temperature and grind the ashes to dust etc. as above...

With the right sotware/utils one can get back to the first entries on the drive - even after 23-24 reformats-various/overwrites/killdisks etc... What PC security gurus can do (e.g. csi/intelligence types) is far more than many realise; and many criminal types are similarly aware and able...

Personally I'd remove the drive and install a new one. Then either keep the drive myself - or at least smash it beyond repair. There are outfits in India/Pakistan who regularly resurrect drives from scrapped kit and fully access data thereon; and often sell it on - or use it themselves...

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April 28, 2009 at 02:30:04
if nothing else as all above are are for the norm in handing over a personal pc
change your passwords to your accounts!
& not via the pc your giving away!

if you want to see what files are supposedly deleted on your pc just for interest run this prog you maybe suprised at what it finds


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April 28, 2009 at 07:01:18
Here are the Dell instructions for creating A Recovery CD for your Desktop.

You have only one chance to make the CD so be sure to read, understand (Print) and follow the instructions exactly.


Once you have the CD you can wipe or replace the original HDD and reinstall the OS as it was from the factory, with the exception of the hidden OS Partition (I think???)

If you replace the HDD you can keep the original as-is and install it in an external USB drive for use with your Laptop. Then you'll have access to all the original files you created on it, maybe some backup space as well for the LT>

There is nothing to learn from someone who already agrees with you.

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April 28, 2009 at 07:42:16
There is also (on occasion) a chance you can secure either full version disk from Dell etc. if you have to replace the original drive; or they will send you a how to re-establish that "hidden" partition contents - or somethng like (from what I seem to recall from others, here in the past...).

Also there are sources "out there" that will provide (for a "modest fee"?) a complete restore set for your laptop, if needs-be. But wiser to make one yourself asap when first you receive the kit.

And/or if really keen... use Acronis True-Image or a similar util to make a "true image" of the "entire" drive; and it will if you opt to - include the hidden partition.... Then at any time you can restore everything on the drive to same drive - or to a new one... Although if to a new one you may have to tweak that transferred image slighly to get it boot successfully - because of XP's irratiationd etc. re' changes to original hardware (drive, cpu. Mobo etc...); "usually" means an XP repair routine by all accounts...?

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