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Scrubbing my hard drive

Stu

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Hey:

I just bought a new laptop and have finished transferring everything over from my old desktop, which ran on Windows 98. I want to give it to the Sal Army or something, but want to scrub the hard drive to rid it of financial data, and other confidential stuff. The tech guy at work told me just to reformat the hard drive, but I don't see where to do that. Can anyone tell me how to reformat the hard drive on windows '98?
 

Dakota rube

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The easiest way would be to buy a new Macintosh and smash the Windoze machine into a gazillion pieces.
 

j

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I started typing a response, but it's really hard to explain and requires a lot of assumptions. It's a simple process actually, just really hard to explain all the options and steps involved. Your best bet would be to find someone who could do it for you.
 

retronotmetro

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Just reformatting a hard drive does not remove confidential data--if you simply reformat it there are tools that will be able to recover the information easily.  

There are inexpensive "shredder" software apps that will write over the entire hard drive, multiple times, with randomized data.  Those will defeat file recovery efforts from everything but very sophisticated retrieval techniques that are beyond the scope of what some joker who bought a used computer at Salvation Army is going to be using.

Try searching on CNet's shareware/download area for some software tools to use.

You could also do what I do--remove the hard drive from the computer before donation, and physically destroy it or turn it into a second hard drive on the replacement machine.
 

j

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I considered that option retro, but the problem is that he would need to run something from a boot disk in order to wipe the whole drive, unless he were to delete everything important and use e.g. PGP to wipe all the free space and slack space. But then you are still left with the swap file, hiberfil.sys if applicable, etc.
 

Brian SD

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DISCLAIMER: Don't pay attention to this. Don't follow these directions. If I said something wrong and you do it, it's your fault, not mine. First thing, make a Boot Diskette (floppy). Go to http://www.bootdisk.com/bootdisk.htm to get the software for it. You're going to want "Windows 98 OEM." Follow the software directions to create the floppy disk. Remove the disk. Then go to: Start > Shut down > Restart Computer in MS-DOS mode When you get to DOS, type C:>format C: and follow the directions given to you. It should take awhile to reformat an old computer. After it is finished, insert the floppy disk and restart your computer. The BootDisk software should load CD-ROM drivers. I havent used in awhile, but it SHOULD say what letter it assigned to your CD drive when it boots up the diskette. Sometimes its a weird letter like R: instead of D: or E: Take note of this. Insert the Windows 98 CD, and type C:>A: (replace A with whatever letter your CD-Rom was assigned) type A:>dir look for a file called "install.exe," "setup.exe," "win.exe" or something else. type A:>install.exe (or whatever the install file is called, it could likely be setup.exe) and voila. Follow the instructions to reinstall W98.
 

Brian SD

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The easiest way would be to buy a new Macintosh and smash the Windoze machine into a gazillion pieces.
And I agree with this statement, completely.
 

retronotmetro

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I considered that option retro, but the problem is that he would need to run something from a boot disk in order to wipe the whole drive, unless he were to delete everything important and use e.g. PGP to wipe all the free space and slack space. But then you are still left with the swap file, hiberfil.sys if applicable, etc.
The software I got a couple of years ago had a boot disk creation step. You run the software and first it walks you through the creation of a boot floppy, then you boot from that floppy and it wipes the hard drive.
 

nightowl6261a

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yank the hard drive and replace with a cheap $40 one, the same or less than it would cost for someone to clean it for you, what an idea.
 

BjornH

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As said above, formatting will not remove your files. It will only remove the 'table of contents', so to speak. The most secure way to do this is to remove the HD but then the Salvation Army will get an unusable computer that is probably worth less than a new disk. IBM has a tool you should be able to use here and it will create a bootable floppy for you. I don't know if it will work on non-IBM computers. If it does not it is by design, the stated system requirements are not IBM specific. B
 

Brian SD

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As said above, formatting will not remove your files. It will only remove the 'table of contents', so to speak. The most secure way to do this is to remove the HD but then the Salvation Army will get an unusable computer that is probably worth less than a new disk. IBM has a tool you should be able to use here and it will create a bootable floppy for you. I don't know if it will work on non-IBM computers. If it does not it is by design, the stated system requirements are not IBM specific. B
It has a list of "Supported Systems," so I doubt it will. Many hard drive manufacturers have directions on their websites on how to low-level reformat your drive.
 

dietcookie

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If he can't figure out how to format a HDD, how do you guys expect him to low level format it? (no offense intended) Then again it would be pretty difficult for someone to recover data from a HDD that has been LLF'ed, but still possible in this day and age. Safest way is to take a magnet to the HDD and throw it off a building.
 

BjornH

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I wanted to applaud the poster for at least caring about this issue. It happens all too often that people don't think about this. For a layman, it's probably easiest to remove the HD and if you are feeling paranoid, open it and destroy the magnetic platters. For defence against casual snoopers one could fill the HD with other, worthless data and overwrite what once was there. This could be done after deleting all sensitive files. This would probably suffice in this case. To do this properly, i.e. in a government or military situation the disk needs to be overwritten multiple times with well choosen bit patterns. Computer nerds like me can read papers like this one if they are interested. B
 

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