"Cleaning" a 2nd hand PC

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Apologies if this has been asked before, I couldn't find it on a quick search but I am sure it can't be a new query.


I bought a 2nd hand computer some time ago and now am about to give it to my niece for her studies. However just recently with the recent news frenzy it brought another thought to mind.

My query is, short of reformatting the whole hard disk, what actions could I take to ensure there are no residual tracks of the previous owner on the computer?

With this frenzy about Child Porn I would hate for the embarassment should she ever take it for repair and such tracks were evident.

As matter of course I have deleted, the normal things like temp files, cookies, autocomplete and defragged but I understand subtle "records" are kept in a swap file or something???? or index.dats?????

Also its a big hard disk with little used, does defragging actually clear any chance of retrieving a previously deleted porn pic????


Any help and advice appreciated



:)
 
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No defragging only organizes the hard drive by moving around data, it wont remove anything.

You really ought to format the drive. Its not too hard to do. Another member of TSG has written a guide to formatting/partitioning the drive.
http://members.shaw.ca/pyritechips/JimsGuide.htm

Before you start, make sure you have a Windows CD so you can install the OS.
 

avatar1

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Brendandonhu,

Thank you for the link and the advice. I will look into that.

-----

Just a query on the theory. Would replicating a file so that is fills the capacity of the HD, then deleting it, irrecoverably overwrite any previous data?

The problem with reformatting is the time to reload/download all the software + plus there are gigs of mp3's and no CDRW to backup.
 
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You cant create a file that takes the whole HD, because the files from the OS have to stay on there.

If you can't borrow someones external CD Burner, do you have another computer with free space? You can get a $20 USB Networking cable, transfer the files to another system, format, then transfer them back.

If you have another computer you could also just take the HD out of it, put it into this computer, copy the files over, format, and copy back.
 

avatar1

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brendandonhu,

Thank you again for your advice and suggestions.

What I actually meant was to replicate a file that filled the free space. In my ignorance, I thought if the OS already occupied space on the HD, there couldn't be any old files occupying that same space at the same time therefore that particular space had already been "cleansed". I think I get the idea though that there is no short cut!

Someone referred me however to a piece of software called Active Disk Wiper so I will check that out. Anyone here used that before in this type of situation?
 
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Programs like that just do a fancy format. They write 0s over the whole drive multiple times, up to DOD standards so the CIA cant recover it easily.
Its not really necessary to do on your own computer, you might want to do it on your computer before giving it to someone else though.
 
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