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Cleaning my hard drive.....

by Paige1 / October 7, 2004 1:33 AM PDT

Hi, hoping that someone can give me some advise on how to proceed here. I am running windows 98 and have finally decided to buy a new computer. My dilemma here is that my husband has a friend who wants this one when I buy a new one. I am not at all comfortable with giving up my hard drive that has been used for probably about 7 years now. What I need to find out is how to wipe the hard drive clean of any photos and/or ICQ dialog that might be there. The way I understand it, even when you delete things, they are still kept somewhere? Is there some way that I can run a program that will delete these things and make them not retrievable? Thanks so much for any thoughts here. I don't really want to wipe out the entire operating system as that would raise questions.

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Re: Cleaning my hard drive.....
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 7, 2004 1:42 AM PDT
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Re: Cleaning my hard drive.....
by Kees Bakker / October 7, 2004 2:25 AM PDT

First you've got to decide how to handle the installed programs. Say, you've got a student edition of MS Office, it might not be legal to transfer it. But all of that is up to you, of course. Uninstall all software not to be transferred from Control Panel>Add Remove.

Then delete all files that are obviously personal, like everything in My Documents, My Music, My shared files (Kazaa), and of course Word documents, spreadsheets, financial data, pictures, music etc etc in other folders. The idea is that you know what's on your machine, of course, and where you keep it.
Then go to into your browser and (in IE language) clear Temporary Internet Files and history. IF IE 6, although clear cookies.
Also delete (in Outlook Express language) all your mail folders (except the standard ones, like Inbox and Sent Items). Delete every mail in there, and from Deleted items also. Then File>Compact>All folders. In Config Panel delete all users (if you have any), leaving only the default user.
Download a program called MOVEONBOOT, and use that to delete ALL index.dat files you can find.
Manually delete all cookies (in c:\windows\cookies) and everything in c:\windows\temp, c:\temp, c:\tmp (if present). Delete *.pwl in c:\windows. Delete *.log in every folder.
Clear start menu and desktop. Clear Start>Recent list.
Delete dial-up account information.
Delete everything from the Recycle Bin.

Your system should be pretty empty now. Critically look in every folder with Explorer. Don't delete drivers. Don't delete things in the Windows-folder except the things mentioned. Things to note: a program like MS Word can put your .dot-files in Program Files, games can put all kinds of data in their folders in Program Files. So better uninstall games. Don't know about ICQ.
Your system should still be emptier now. Then repeat the above procedure until you're pretty sure there's nothing left on the machine that didn't come from Microsoft or from other vendors whose software you didn't delete (like Acrobat Reader, Macromedia Flash, Antivirus etc). If you don't have excessive amounts of software, it should be far less than 1 Gb.

When in doubt: delete to the recycle bin, reboot and try. Only then delete permanently. When in serious doubt: ask here.

To top it off: scandisk and full defrag compacting everything.

This is an absolutely normal thing to do. It shouldn't raise any questions.

Good luck,


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Just a story to show ...
by Kees Bakker / October 7, 2004 6:26 AM PDT

there are still fools around when it comes to PC's and that you're not one of them. It's one of today's headlines on the news (here in Holland).

Public prosecutor thinks his PC has gone south. Probably he hadn't read the organisations security rules nor ever heard of recycling, so he puts it on the street to be collected the next morning along with his other garbage. Taxi driver finds it and brings it to our top crime journalist. Hard drive contains all kinds of sensitive information on a recently murdered real estate trader generally considered (except publicly by himself) to be a rather important person in the criminal world (or he wouldn't have been murdered).
His superiors weren't amused, nor was the Congress. It's against the rules, and it's unbelievably stupid also, they said.

Nice detail: he puts in on the street at 8:30 PM, while it's only allowed after 7:30 AM next morning! That's the only definite offence he made, it seems.

Feels good to be smarter than a public prosecutor, I should say.


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"but I repeat myself"...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 7, 2004 6:37 AM PDT

" Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. - Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
- Mark Twain

"Can I do this?"
- Bob

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by Kees Bakker / October 7, 2004 7:58 AM PDT

Mr Tonino reportedly disposed of his laptop this rather unlucky way not because it was broken but because it had a virus.

That, by the way, must be another break of Justice Depts security rules, to allow malware on your laptop.


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Re: Cleaning my hard drive.....
by datalookup / October 8, 2004 2:11 PM PDT

Try Drive Cleanser by It's quite effective at permanently erasing data from a hard drive. Especially, the 35 pass Algorithm.

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Re: Cleaning my hard drive.....
by Kees Bakker / October 9, 2004 3:11 AM PDT

Paige1 said: "I don't really want to wipe out the entire operating system as that would raise questions.". So I wonder of those suggestions of programs to erase the hard disk are what she wants, although they certainly are useful in other respects.

And, of course, erasing is nice, but you should at least install Win98 and all macine specific drivers. And it would be nice to go to Windowsupdate also before giving away the machine. That's why I gave a recipe to delete personal information and keep a good working system (assuming it's good working, well patched, has a recent anti-virus and all that). If there's no need to throw all that goodies away, don't do it in my opinion.

Note there are also programs to erase files (not whole hard disks). I've got a free version of Powerdesk (an Explorer replacement) that offers such a function. And there surely are more. It's kind of a 'safe' delete.


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Re: Cleaning my hard drive.....
by Paige1 / October 9, 2004 9:53 AM PDT

Hi there Kees and to all that responded. You guys are great. I always know that I can rely on this place and you guys to give me very useful advise. You are very right about my intentions. I really only want to delete photos and personal information such as my tax reports and personal conversations..etc. I would leave the core operating system and he'd only have to add whatever programs he wants to add. Does using your method accomplish just that? I was also intrigued by that program that one of the others mentioned called the Would that accomplish what I want, only easier?? Thanks again guys, you are such a help.

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Re: So sorry, Drive Cleanser Program Too Powerful
by datalookup / October 9, 2004 10:29 AM PDT

Hi, The Drive Cleanser Program is too powerful for your needs. It will fully erase ALL data on the drive. A program that would be more suitable may be Eraser 5.3. You can selectively drag and drop files for erasing and just leave the core operating system with the updates. This program is worth considering for your current needs.

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by FrankQTran / October 9, 2004 10:50 AM PDT
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