How to delete all files from old xp computer Page 1 / 2

jenny791, May 2, 12:43am
I have an old computer running xp. want to give it to child to use for computer games.
How do I delete all files so the confidential stuff like bank details and passwords can never be retrieved, if the computer falls into a more computer literate person's hands.

d.snell, May 2, 12:51am
From "users" in control panel create a new user with admin rights say called the kids name
logout of your existing user name and log in under the new name
go back to control panel "users" and delete your old user name account, selecting remove all data option.
All done.

jenny791, May 2, 12:59am
Thank you so much. I didn't realise it was so simple.

cjdnzl, May 2, 1:33am
That will not stop anyone with a bit of computer knowledge from snooping around the drive with a file manager that can see the whole drive, trivially easy to do. The safets waya if you have confidential material on the drive is to reformat and reinstall a clean copy of XP and go from there.

d.snell, May 2, 1:43am
What are they going to see? The only way anyone could see those files would be with a HDD file recovery utility and why would anyone want to go to that much trouble? Also, if they did, then your option of reformatting won't stop them either.

mrfxit, May 2, 1:51am
A new user profile & deleting the old profiles will be fine for using WITHIN the family.
However, the only reasonable way to be sure when selling the computer is to use a format tool such as "Dban" to totally wipe the hdd & then do a fresh install of the o/s.

d.snell, May 2, 1:57am
yes, but lets not get pedantic or paranoid about this. If you want to go to the trouble of using Dban and reformatting a $20 computer, do so, but it would be easier to put a hammer through it and tell the "kid" , bad luck.

Now take your 'Geek" hat off and put on your human one and come back to earth ;-)


cleggyboy, May 2, 2:07am
1. Get rid of everything on your hard drive by wiping it with DBAN
2. Reinstall the operating system

You can get Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) from this link.
Here is Darik's description:

"Darik's Boot and Nuke ("DBAN") is a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction. DBAN is a means of ensuring due diligence in computer recycling, a way of preventing identity theft if you want to sell a computer, and a good way to totally clean a Microsoft Windows installation of viruses and spyware."

A word of caution. DBAN will totally obliterate everything on your hard drive and overwrite it with gibberish so nothing can be recovered from it even using forensic software. So make sure you've saved whatever you want to save before you use it.

If you're selling or giving away your old computer - it would be nice if you reinstalled Windows before you give it away or sell it. It won't be of much use to anyone without an operating system on it -- unless the person you're selling it to or giving it to knows it won't have an operating system.

mrfxit, May 2, 2:50am
LOL yea FINE. .

Seriously tho, If you can burn an ISO to disk, then it's very very simple & easy to use Dban.
It's harder for Joe bloggs to do the reinstall

d.snell, May 2, 3:22am
Simple, I'm not sure. It will take someone with all the prepared software tools, even an expert, 3 or 4 hours to complete. Remember we are talking Microsoft Time here, a simple 5 minute job will take at least and hour, so not really that simple at all.

lostdude, May 2, 4:10am
I'd just follow post #2, then run CCleaners "wipe free space" option If I was that paranoid about data.

mrfxit, May 2, 5:14am
LOL yea NAH, I do it all the time with Dban.
Make double sure the only hdd's attached are the 1's you want to be wiped.
Check for usb sticks attached

Boot Dban disk (Approx 3 to 5 seconds)
Type in "Autonuke" & tap enter key.
Walk away & do something else for 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on hdd drive size.
Don't even need to run the std 3 pass's if you are in a hurry.

By the time you do some basic checks , set / forget & walk away, it's probably only 1 minute prep.

mrfxit, May 2, 5:16am
Got my Dban on boot usb stick now so just have to remember to use the user menu & NOT select my usb stick.

d.snell, May 2, 5:46am
And how long to re-install XP with all the SP's and updates?
You forgot that bit.

cookee_nz, May 2, 6:28am
100% agree, exactly what I have done often. I will usually do a defrag before the wipe as well. Plan to do the wipe overnight and select the option for at least 3-passes, or possibly even 7 depending on the drive speed. As others have said, anyone determined enough will find ways so you should aim to thwart 99% of users who could not care less about your past data (and realistically, what could they do with that data anyway? - they usually have to know what they are looking for and the context in which to use it which is how most forensics work. They already know the information they are seeking which narrows their examination considerably. And leaving the OS intact avoids a heap of hassles, reinstalling, drivers, updates yadi yadi.

mrfxit, May 2, 6:42am
Updates apart from SP3 not really an issue if the user has half a brain when surfing.

d.snell, May 2, 7:15am
so how long to install O/S and do updates then? 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours? It bet the ranch on it that you would take at least 2 to 3 hours to get a fully functional XP system installed, so 3 to 4 hours all up?
But, guess what? Isn't that what I said in post #10 which you replied LOL yeah, NAH

ross1970, May 2, 7:48am
Even the thought of reinstalling Xp in 2015 is just wrong.

d.snell, May 2, 8:05am
Yep, so why would anybody bother secure wiping an XP system and then going through the tremendous agony of trying to re-install it.

I Know, it's because your old computer might fall into the hands of International Hackers or the CIA and after hours and hours of investigation and file recovery exercises, they might be lucky and could then log into your TM account and buy a used pair of undies. Or even worse, send rude messages to all your email contacts.
If your paranoia levels are that high, then you don't give it away, you smash it up with a big hammer, then melt it down in a 10000 degree furnace, then there will be no chance of recovering anything. Problem Solved :-)

ianab, May 2, 8:07am
Run Dban
Install Linux flavour of choice.

Takes a few hours of waiting, about 10 mins of actual work.

The issue with just deleting the old files is that you have a dodgy and possibly flaky install of XP. It's probably had various malware partly removed, all sorts of mess in the registry etc. OK a clean install will have the machine running XP OK again, but whether you should is another subject. You still need to install drivers / update Windows / Virus scanner and some software to actually make it useful.

Installing a clean Linux is usually just a "Boot from CD and answer a couple of questions". All the drivers and some useful software are there.

mrfxit, May 2, 11:28am
Yep that as well.
Just because it was built for XP doesn't mean the hardware is useless.

black-heart, May 2, 11:35am
You are seriously over estimating the effort someone will go to to get your old crappy files. Just create a new user, delete the old one, and be done with it. Besides unless you've done something really silly your banking passwords are not saved on it anyway. d.snell was right on the money, the others seem like rather special wee flowers.

mrfxit, May 2, 11:47am
I also deal with several professional ppl that take hd security much further then most ppl here, by smashing ALL hdd's regardless of size or age of those hdd's.
I have seen business's smash 1 & 2 TB hdd's simply because thats how they deal to unwanted computer gear

bwg11, May 3, 1:55am
I was teaching hardware and security to degree students 20 years ago. The hammer was the most secure method then (and big disks were very expensive back then). Wonder if nothing has changed or are they my ex-students?

mrfxit, May 3, 2:21am
If they are your ex students, then they seem to have picked up a health dose of paranoia with DEEP pockets.

A good amount of the aftermarket formatting tools available these days can generally only be beaten by data recovery companys using the best forensic tools available.

Not many ppl around that are willing or able to go to that extremes & thats just the cost factor, never mind the time.

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