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What should I erase before I sell my notebook?

by cdharris / April 5, 2006 7:40 AM PDT

I have replaced my 5 year old Sony FX 170 running Windows ME with a new, faster notebook running XP. I want to sell the Sony, probably on eBay, but first want to erase or clean off all data and programs that I would not want to fall into the wrong hands. I know to erase the files in My Documents, but what else? I would like to leave as many of the programs I have installed, such as Office 2003 and Quicken, as possible as it would probably make it easier to sell, but I don't want to leave anything that could cause me trouble. Is there a guide for this process somewhere? Is there a program that will do it or make it simpler? Thanks for any help or suggestions.

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"This is scary"
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 5, 2006 8:05 AM PDT

Read and use the tool there to discover what you've stowed on the hard disk without knowing.

And this is the tip of the iceburg.

As to Office 2003, if you are like most, you'll get more cash by selling that seperately. If you were to leave it on the machine, the person may think you sold it to them and will create headaches when they demand the license transfer. That office alone may be worth hundreds.

-> I suggest a disk wipe and using the restore CDs that came with the machine. Don't install any software that you won't be giving them the CDs and Licenses to.


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by John.Wilkinson / April 5, 2006 8:57 AM PDT

Just deleting files normally (moving them to the Recycle Bin, then emptying it) does not securely delete them...until they've been overwritten they can still be recovered using specialized software. Thus, before selling the laptop, you should use something like Kill Disk, which will securely wipe your hard drive clean. After that's done, reinstall Windows and any other software you want to include with the laptop, finalized by posting the advertisement. Just be sure that if you include any software on the laptop that you have over any/all copies of the CDs and licensing keys as well.

Hope this helps,

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by taboma / April 5, 2006 5:46 PM PDT
In reply to: Everything...

I call it a clean-install.
Load up the system software. Nothing left that's personal.

I read the post and also thought?EVERYTHING!!!
You and Bob beat me to it.
Ditto on everything you both said.

Just one question John. After a clean install, can someone get back any data later?? I suppose anything is possible.


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One more item....
by Willy / April 6, 2006 12:03 AM PDT
In reply to: Everything

I use "KILLDISK" to totally wipeout the HD and run a few passes if needed. Then reformat, etc. and reload the OS. Of course with a laptop one should be sure to have all the disks in order to properly return the laptop to day 1 of shipment. As you mentioned, the other posters pretty much covered this topic. Get killdisk from the website of same name. Visiting killdisk shopuld explain its virtues.

tada -----Willy Happy

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by bob b / April 6, 2006 5:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Everything

After a clean install, can someone get back any data later??

Depends who the SOMEONE is.

Good....format and reload.

Better...a few passes of a disk wipe routine and then format and reload.

Given enough time/money/fancy equipment just about anything you have every written on that HD can be read.

Do the "better" and all your porn sites are gone. Happy

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Depends who that SOMEONE is!
by taboma / April 6, 2006 1:37 PM PDT
In reply to: Everything

Bob b, You are so right on.
This sounds like Speakeasy Forun from me here.
The director of Homeland Security is wanted for child procurement?
Cannot trust any one these days can we! Wonder what s on his hard drive?? Even if he tried to do a kill disk!! WOW!! :

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by cdharris / April 6, 2006 2:50 AM PDT

This is a lot of good advice. I now cring when I think about the several PCs that I have just given away to charities, etc. in the past. I didn't bother to do anything but just erase my data files. Sounds like I have some work to do if I'm going to do this job right this time.

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''AutoClave'' and ''Boot & Nuke''
by bobndenise / April 6, 2006 8:34 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks

If your PC has a floppy drive, I suggest Autoclave. It took over 48 hours to scrub an 80 gig hard disk drive I had. If you don't have a floppy drive, another program is Boot & Nuke. I don't believe it's as thorough as Autoclave though, but it is better than just reformatting. Sorry I don't have links to the above software, but Google should find them.

Good Luck.

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Wipe everything and reformat/reinstall
by msbae / April 6, 2006 11:47 PM PDT

I'd Wipe everything and reformat/reinstall myself. Although, I wouldn't recommend putting WinME on there again. That OS is the most unstable/unfreindly/craptastic OS I've ever seen and I'm old enough to still remember DOS. Do your prospective customers a favor, put Windows 2000/XP on there. Also, sell Office seperately, if you can. Even the Student & Teacher edition will fetch a decent sum. Office is one of the few MS programs that runs well and is therefore worth it's weight in gold.

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Another thought...
by msbae / April 6, 2006 11:51 PM PDT

If you're really concerned with data security, just put a new hard drive in there and install the OS and software of your choice. Then no one will ever know what kind of pr0n you downloaded. It doesn't have to be an expensive drive, either. Afterall, the customer knows it's used and will expect problems.

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Clear it all and watch the licences
by Zouch / April 7, 2006 3:29 AM PDT

In common with everybody else, I agree you should delete everything, overwrite it and reformat to be sure it's gone. Partition Magic has an option when deleting a partition to do a secure erase. I would use it to secure erase all the partitions on the drive, then create a new single partition across the whole drive. One caution, if your machine came with a recovery partition, rather than recovery CDs, don't delete that partition. Use the Partition Magic option to format the partition and then use the option on most system reloads to reformat again when you reload from the restore disks that came with the system originally.

As far as Windows Me is concerned, I know most of the world believes it is a bad system but I can honestly say that I used it for 4 years with no problems - but then you will have your own experience from this machine. Mine was a UK system but I can't imagine that makes any difference.

Putting some other operating system on or including Office in the sale raises the issue of software licences. The definitive answer to what you can and can't do with respect to licence transfer is in the Microsioft End User Licence Agreement (EULA). You should have had one when the machine was new or if you filed it in a "safe place!" you can check the MS web site. Be sure you comply with all the conditions.

Remember if you load a different operating system, it is not covered by the Me licence, you need to buy a copy from somewhere and that kind of defeats the object. If you sell and transfer the licence for Office, you can't keep a copy, you are selling it all.

So what I'd do is just reload the software that came with the machine and nothing else and sell the machine with the original restore disks and the MS certificate of Authenticity. If you want to sell other software, make that a separate deal.

Good Luck.

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what should i erase before i sell my notebook
by drdoo / April 7, 2006 5:23 AM PDT

how about a 2 lb. sledge-hammer on the hard-drive (after removing it from the unit) and deducting the cost of a replacement--well worth it.

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More trouble than the laptop is worth
by cdharris / April 7, 2006 10:26 AM PDT

After reading about all I need to do before selling it, and seeing what these are going for on eBay, it may be more trouble than it is worth. I'll just keep this laptop as a backup until it dies a natural death.

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Video showing total data wipeout (a classic!)
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 7, 2006 10:37 AM PDT
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