General Question

Pandora's avatar

How do you thoroughly wipe a computer?

Asked by Pandora (27694points) May 31st, 2011

I have two old computers that I would like to get rid of or donate however; I’m concerned that credit card information or personal information or pics may still be on their that someone can bring back if they know how to do it.
I’ve read about several programs or ways of doing it on the web but I never know if it really works since most are about selling their product. Of course they all claim to be better than any other way.
I would appreciate first hand information on any products flutherites have used, that they know for a fact is effective.
I don’t need anything to save my information. I have already done that long ago and saved important information or pictures to my removeable hard drives.
Just need to wipe it so I can give it to charity without worrying about the wrong people getting a hold of it.
Also I have one computer that totally crashed. So how do I get that one to run so I can clean it? Would I just be better off taking it apart?

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9 Answers

XOIIO's avatar

I’m going to upload an ISO of Acrosnis to a file sharing site and send you the link, you download the ISO and burn it to a new CD with soemthing like IMGBurn, then boot the computer to the CD. Then you do to the disk cleanser, click on the very first section of the ahrd drive(s) and they will be totally wiped.

Pandora's avatar

Thanks. :D
Will it work on the computer that has crashed as well?

XOIIO's avatar

@Pandora as long as it starts up yes, the computer should already be configured to boot from the CD but if not it’s pretty simple to set up.

jaytkay's avatar

Darik’s Boot And Nuke is a free utility which will wipe your hard drives.
http://www.dban.org/

Or simply remove the hard drives.

XOIIO's avatar

@jaytkay True, you could remove them and throw them in the dump, or use that. The link i’ll be posting is acronis true image home, and a full version, so it can be used to back up computers later if she nee
ds to.

Pandora's avatar

@XOIIO Thanks. I’ll have to wait for my husband to come from work and burn it. Your a life saver. I so need the closet space. :D

jaytkay's avatar

@XOIIO True, you could remove them and throw them in the dump

And they should be erased before throwing them away. So removing the drives is just an extra step, if you don’t have time at the moment to erase them.

koanhead's avatar

Before I learned about GNU shred I used to do it like this:

dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/hda bs=64

Which overwrites the first IDE hard disk with random bits (small block size to cross inodes) but was a pain because it takes a long time and errors out at the end. Pants.

shred is lots better. It’s what DOD uses to wipe out their drives, apparently.

I know a guy who has a big handheld electromagnet dingus. It was originally intended for wiping VHS tapes. After he interfered with it he claimed that he could erase tapes from several feet away. He also told me that he could zap a hard disk with that thing and not only destroy the data but permanently magnetize the platters, which would have the side effect of destroying any disk controller the device was plugged into. Personally I think he was blowing smoke, but it’s a fun story.

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