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Preparing computer for donation

cats_123 Plus
14 4.8k 28 Northern Ireland
4 Mar 2013 2:56PM
Need your advice....
I have a desktop PC and a netbook which I am thinking of donating to my local community group.

It's essential that I wipe the hard drives, of course. However I want to be able to hand them over in, preferably, a use able state. I.e. with an operating system pre-loaded.

Both have windows xp loaded, and I think I have the disk for the desktop, so could probably erase the drive and re-load. The netbook, however, is a sealed unit.

Firstly, any suggestions on how I can deal with the netbook problem?

And secondly are there any particular critical steps to take when erasing the drives?

Thanks in advance.

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collywobles 14 4.0k 10 United Kingdom
4 Mar 2013 3:09PM
Dont just erase to rid drives of all data you will have to FORMAT the Drive! Erasing only deletes the first character of the index file - the file is still there and can be recovered very simply.

I can only presume the Notebook will follow the same process. Igues you reinstall the notebook via a USB Port. not too sure about that)
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
4 Mar 2013 3:09PM
Is there a boot up option saying something like "reset to factory state" or recovery disks you made ages ago that do the same?

The Lenovo's/HP's i use at work will self clean if you select factory reset - i think they even partially reformat the partition that had your data on.

Safety step: Once i'd done the above - you could FILL the drives with junk random files then re-delete these files, this would force the hard disk to have a different pattern, that would mean the previous data was unreadable by the disks own software.
mrcal 14 1.0k
4 Mar 2013 3:10PM
For the netbook, delete any email accounts held locally (ie, not Webmail accounts), delete all bookmarks and favourites, empty the temporary Internet files, delete all data in My Documents.

Unload any programs for which you are not transferring the licence.

Run Defrag.

Then, on both desktop and netbook, run a program such as Eraser to securely erase the unused hard disk space, thus removing the possibility that any personal data could be retrieved.
mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
4 Mar 2013 3:25PM
A lot of anti-virus programmes nowadays have a 'shred' facility' that automatically does what Jack suggests (overwrites any data with junk to make is unrecoverable) which is good because I am sure you do not want to spend time copying ooodles of mega(giga?) bytes. Or you can
If you do not have shredding available, then this free programme may be of help:


In my paranoia I would run a program such as this then do the reformat.

WHOOPS! Just re-read MrCal's reply and I am saying the same thing as him.
User_Removed 14 3.3k 4 United Kingdom
4 Mar 2013 3:55PM
To save the trouble of formatting - which is very easy to reverse anyway - use a proper tool like Eraser (as Cal Suggests) which will properly overwrite free space. Use it to delete sensitive files too

Eraser is an advanced security tool for Windows which allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns. Eraser is currently supported under Windows XP (with Service Pack 3), Windows Server 2003 (with Service Pack 2), Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
Eraser is Free software and its source code is released under GNU General Public License.

ikett 7 545 England
4 Mar 2013 4:21PM
Thanks for the eraser link, a local company was about smash 10 pc's, I mailed them this thread/link they're going to try it on one, if it works donate all to local charities, amazing timing.
cats_123 Plus
14 4.8k 28 Northern Ireland
4 Mar 2013 4:54PM
Thanks everyone. Eraser seems to be the way forward as it seems to retain the OS whilst deleting everything else I need to get rid of...just had a quick look at the forum an FAQs.

I knew someone would know!! What a great place EPZ is!! Smile Smile Smile Smile

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