General Question

jca's avatar

If I'm going to return my computer to the store for a replacement or refund, what do I need to do to clear out any passwords or history from being visible to workers who may have access to the computer?

Asked by jca (36043points) March 17th, 2012

I bought an Acer netbook around the holidays (so around 4 months ago). I bought it from Costco, and they double the manufacturer’s warranty, so it has a 2 year warranty on it (which is one of the reasons I love Costco). The “H” key is a little stuck, so I have to press a little harder on it, or else “H” is not typed. I know this problem is not going to get better with age, so I may as well return the computer asap and get a new one or a refund.

What do I need to do to prevent my personal information (passwords, sites I’ve visited, credit card info that’s stored on shopping sites) from being accessed by people who may fiddle around and turn the computer on?

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9 Answers

Vincentt's avatar

What browser are you using? If Firefox, you can press Ctrl+Shift+Del or click Tools->Clear Recent History. Other browsers probably have similar options.

blueiiznh's avatar

You can also download and install ccleaner and run it. It will take care of much more than a simple browser cache flush.

It is a good tool to have in your arsenal.

jaytkay's avatar

Look in the instructions for something like restore or recovery. Looking at my Acer Aspire manual I see “eRecovery”.

It returns your computer to “factory default”.

john65pennington's avatar

You are aware that some information stored in your computer, is permanent.

AmWiser's avatar

@jca great advice above, but have you tried removing the key and cleaning it. Something may have gotten under the key to cause it to stick. A computer tech at the store could do it for you if you’re comfortable with doing it yourself. This site gives you a tutorial on how to remove a single key.

I know it’s good to be able to take advantage of your warranty, but not good to have to worry about your personal information when you’re not sure how to clear it out totally.
BTW I love my little Acer notebook hubby bought for me.:-)

DeanV's avatar

@john65pennington Nothing stored is permanent.

My suggestion is to download Ccleaner like @blueiiznh and run it, checking all of the options. That will log you out of all the sites you’ve visited, clear your browser history and caches, and clean all your saved passwords.

That should do most of what you want, but if you have anything like word documents full of passwords, addresses, sensitive information, whatever, you could delete those as well, as they won’t be nabbed by Ccleaner.

If you’ve just got waaaay too much stuff on there to manually go through, or you don’t feel comfortable with doing it manually, you can always wipe the hard drive, like @jaytkay suggested. It removes programs, browsers, caches, histories, documents, everything.

AshlynM's avatar

First, uninstall all software/programs from the control panel.

Delete browsing history.

Delete stored info on any websites, such as credit card information.

Just deleting something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone forever.

Then find a program that can completely erase the hard drive and render it unreadable. Just be sure though, before you attempt this, to back up any data you may want to keep.

nyboy718's avatar

instead of going through all these steps and installing programs, all you need to do is restore your Windows to factory settings which will format and delete all your files, almost all computers come with a restore partition on the hard drive, there are different ways of restoring it based on the manufacturer.

For your ACER,

Go to “Start” > “Restart” to reboot your netbook.

Hold down “Alt” and “F10” when you see the Acer logo on the screen. The recovery menu will load.

Hit “Enter” and then “Next” to see your recovery options. Choose “Factory Restore” to set your netbook back to factory settings. Follow the instructions on the screen.

Choose your time zone and language when the customization menu appears. Reboot the netbook when you are prompted.

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