Buying a used computer

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fabriosa

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Sep 27, 2003
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Hi - I'm thinking of buying a used computer from someone I don't know. My mom has me nervous. She seems to believe that I could get in trouble buying a computer from someone I don't know because they may have illegal items in memory. For example child porno ect..... Is it true that memory stays stored in a computer indefinately. How do you go about buying a used computer without worrying whether the user wasn't looking up
illegal sites. And could I erase memory?

Thanks, Fab.
 

700mb80min

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If it was me i would be sure to get the o.s. disc and re-install with your user name . After you configure your internet , your ip will change and you should be o.k.

And yes any info on your system cannot be totally deleted by you . There are people and more importantly agencies that do just that . I`ve met a guy who flies around the country for a police agency recovering information that was deleted relating to crimes , and he almost always gets it back .
 
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If it is a nice computer and a good buy - i wouldn't get too bent about it.

If you want to wipe the hard drive and start anew, great. The subtle bits that someone somewhere might reconstruct will not play a part in your life.


If you want to retain the OS and maybe programs like OFFICE and such - Just set about cleaning the Hard Drive as best you can.

- ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS for what you want to get rid of
- Search for all locations of TEMP INTERNET FILES and delete them.
- Do a TOOLS/OPTIONS/DELETE HISTORY and DELETE FILES in Internet Explorer
- Search for all occurrences of FAVORITES folders and delete their contents
- Search for all occurrences of Outlook Express folders (Sent - INBOX, etc....and delete the files within.
- Have SPYBOT or another adware program look for bugs and things.


There are a number of ways that you could clean up a good bit of it if you just sit back and think creatively.

Either way, I would judge the purchase on the quality and value of the Hardware/Software that you feel is there....


-just one opinion

- Castleheart :cool:
 
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Sep 18, 2003
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Hi, As suggested you should obtain the os disk so you can do a reformat/clean install, but if you have concerns about the previous owners surfing habits you should visit summitcn.com and download the free Hard Disk Scrub, run it and check heavy scrub which will overwrite the disk 3 times ensuring a complete erase (might take a looong time depending on the hard disk size) and then you can reinstall with confidence. (y) Good Luck!
 
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I would ask the seller to give me a well written reciept of purchase , listing all the specs ect...
Just a thought!
Chari
 
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If its a maxtor har drive all you would have to do is download This to write zeroes to the drive, which essentially restores it to factory condition and removes all data..
 
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Not every used computer has illegal stuff on it!

Just make sure you get the OS on CD if you don't have one of your own.
 

Tushman

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Nov 10, 2002
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Originally posted by fabriosa:
Is it true that memory stays stored in a computer indefinately. How do you go about buying a used computer without worrying whether the user wasn't looking up
illegal sites. And could I erase memory?

First of all, let's get some basics under control here. Let's take an exmaple of typing a letter in MS Word. When you start up your MS word application, it uses a certain amount of RAM (that's memory) to run that application. Afterwards, when you're done typing the letter, you store your file(s) on the HARD DRIVE. Your RAM (memory) doesn't store the Word document - you store your document on the hard drive - follow me thus far? Now where part of the confusion is coming from is that your mother probably heard that when you delete something from your hard drive, in reality it still remains on there even though your Windows OS doesn't show it. That's true.

However, everytime you use that hard drive, you increase the chance that it will be overwritten by another file. Without getting too technical in explanation, everytime you invoke a open/read/save function, your hard drive moves small pieces of bits & bytes (that's geek speak for data) around your hard drive. That means when you delete a file, your Windows OS recognizes Fabriosa doesn't need that file anymore - and thus will use that space to write new data (or in other words, save another file). Are ya confused yet? Simply it means that spot A on your HDD will be overwritten by new data eventually.



Originally posted by fabriosa:
She seems to believe that I could get in trouble buying a computer from someone I don't know because they may have illegal items in memory. For example child porno ect.....
Well that's amusing but not quite true. Illegal items in memory? What's that? - like your PC smokes crack but does it when you're not at home? :p Morally some people might have objections to porno sites, but they are not 'illegal'.

Regardless, here's the deal on internet history. When you access a website, IE (internet explorer) downloads those files into a cache file called "temporary internet folder". They stay there until you delete them manually and once you do that - the chances you'll recover them are next to nil.

You can however, look up the name of the websites the previous owner has visited by using the History option available under IE but once again - you can't go back in time forever. The user has the option to set how long to keep those records - i.e. 1 week, 2 weeks, etc.

This so called crime fighter mentioned by 700mb sounds a bit trite. Yes there are tools available to recover files that have been deleted from your hard drive. But do you have any idea how expensive they are? It's not going into a computer store and buying one off the rack. Not only so, they require expertise and more than just a beginner's computer knowledge to do that.

Trust me, unless you get caught doing some highly illegal crap on the itnernet, no one's gonna come looking for you asking who you bought that pc from.
 

Tushman

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By the way, considering how cheap PC prices have become lately - i would highly recommend buying one from Dell or Gateway. HP and Comcrap are highly proprietary and are junk when it comes to upgrading.

I don't know what price your seller is asking, but if it's higher than $300 or so - just fuggetabout-it and buy a new one. Dell has been offering new desktop PCs for $500 w/ free shipping lately. (monitor included).

Illegal stuff...hehe... i'm still laughing over that one. LOL...
 
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Yes it is a bit comical but hats off to mom cause if your not sure on something its better to air on the side of caution till you find out the truth of the matter.
 
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Hi Fabriosa,

The only thing in a PC that keeps info,
is the hard drive.

(i know the bios does too, but thats just settings)

If you're bothered do a low level format.
That will over-write so that recovery of any previous stuff
is virtually impossible.

But really, just an ordinary format, and dont worry.

Cheers, John :)
 

700mb80min

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Jul 24, 2003
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Where do you live Tushman , Malaysia ? I live in Canada and i don`t think our systems are any different than those in the U.S.A.. We have several computer crime laws which the offenders can be " traced " via agencies who are equipped to do so with tools and software .

I didn`t say the guy down the street could do it , but someone i did meet who is working for a policing agency , specializing in internet crimes . Alot of the information they need is stored on your hard drive , and yes there are ways to remove it but again they find alot also.



B.T.W..............google is a search tool you can use to find information on just about anything , including internet crime and how they catch you . try it out sometime.


:rolleyes:
 
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Jun 14, 2002
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BTW if you do decide to buy the used computer besides getting the OS disk make sure you have the product (25) key number.




A. The installation key is stored in the Windows 98 registry and can be checked as follows:
Start the registry editor (regedit.exe)
Move to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion
Double click the ProductKey name and write it down
Click OK
Close the registry editor

Do this before the bucks are laid down.
 
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May 4, 2002
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I would like to go back and highlight a TUSHMAN remark.

Computers are really cheap these days.
Don't pay too much - or you might as well put up the extra cash and buy new!

- C
 
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