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marmoset's avatar

Mac question: Best steps for manually erasing user data if I don't have access to an install CD?

Asked by marmoset (968 points ) October 26th, 2012

In other words, I can’t boot from anything other than the primary HD. Assume I don’t have any way to obtain an install disc before I need to send off the machine. So I’d like to manually delete as much as possible.

Machine is being shipped to a large and well established cash-for-your-laptop business that I’ve used successfully several times in the past. The business claims to reformat drives before they do anything else, so this is just for a bit of extra safety.

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6 Answers

marmoset's avatar

So far I’ve manually Secure-deleted the following: all my user docs, my keychains, and anything in application support that would have stored sensitive info (like my Firefox data and Mail directory). What else should I delete?

jrpowell's avatar

Everything sensitive is going to be installed in your users folder so you just need to get rid of that.

I would just make a new user that is admin in System Preferences—> Users and Groups and then boot into that user and delete your current user.

hearkat's avatar

It’s been a while since I’ve done it, but I’ve made bootable clones on external drives.

Generally, once I’ve migrated my information to a new device, I’ve cleaned the disk of the old device using a seven-pass data wipe (or whatever it’s called) via target FireWire disk mode.

I’ve always turned to the Discussion pages on the Apple website for guidance on how to do these things on my particular machine. Good luck!

Vincentt's avatar

I don’t know if it’s also available on OS X but I guess so: I have the command “shred” installed. If you don’t have an SSD simply deleting your files will still allow people to recover a lot of data. shred actually overwrites your data with other random data. You could simply do “shred /” to wipe everything (and make the computer unusable until a new OS is installed).

Silence04's avatar

When the machine is booting, hold down command+R until you enter recovery mode. From there you should be able to format the disk and reinstall the os.
Edit: I read the title wrong…

Why not just remove the harddrive? Or put it into another machine to delete/format it.

marmoset's avatar

johnpowell, perfect—thanks!

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