When it is time to dispose of, or pass on your Toshiba computer to someone else, you will of course want to remove some of your personal history from the machine. "Wiping" a computer hard drive isn't difficult: simply delete your personal documents and leave the operating system and drivers intact. This will not completely remove all evidence of your ownership, however, as things like cookies, Internet history, and software applications will remain on the drive. If you want to remove absolutely all evidence of your ownership, there are three ways to "wipe" a hard drive more thoroughly.
Things You'll Need
- Windows Setup disc (optional)
- Toshiba Recovery disc (optional)
- Hard drive shredder program (optional)
Reinstall Windows from scratch using your authentic setup discs or Toshiba Recovery disc. Don't bother to reinstall everything you normally would want on your computer. Instead, just get Windows up and running so you can proceed with the next step in this "wiping" process.
Overwrite some of the sectors on the hard drive now. If you only reinstall Windows and don't now "overwrite" some of the hard drive sectors with new data, the next owner could use a file recovery program and restore some of the files you thought you had wiped with the Windows reinstall, but really didn't. One Windows reinstall will not always completely "wipe" anything from your hard drive, contrary to popular myth. Download approximately 1 gigabyte of files from a flash drive or CD disc, or install some software programs, so that some hard drive sectors are overwritten. What you install isn't important because this is just a intermediary step in the wiping process.
Reboot and reinstall Windows--a second time. This time, you will want to restore all of the hardware drivers and other programs "for real." Use your Toshiba Recovery disc to repopulate the hard drive with the necessary hardware drivers and original software packages that came with the computer when it was new. Place the Recovery disc in the optical drive and reboot your machine in order to start the Recovery process. The Toshiba Recovery process is an automated program that will reinstall Windows and the drivers for your particular Toshiba computer model. Once the Recovery program begins there is little you will need to do while the program is at work. If any user interaction is required, the Recovery program will prompt you for any necessary information it needs. When the reinstallation of Windows and the drivers is complete, the program will automatically reboot the computer.
Download and use a "shredder" or "scrubber" program if you are still concerned about access to any trace evidence of your ownership of the computer. Shredders and scrubbers like Drive Scrubber, SureDelete, or Evidence Eliminator, will overwrite your hard drive with nonsense characters and make data retrieval impossible. Install the shredder program and start it, following the onscreen directions for program use. A shredder program can take many hours to complete (depending on hard drive size), so plan accordingly. You will be able to start the shredder program and then leave the computer unattended until the process is done. Reinstall Windows or the Toshiba Recovery disc when the shredder is complete so that the computer is reset to "factory" settings like when it was new.
Tips & Warnings
- Consider the logical choice of replacing the hard drive altogether. Replace the hard drive with a new drive and keep the old hard drive in your possession. You can access the data on this old hard drive, or use it as a backup drive, by installing the drive into a USB external hard drive enclosure.
- "Upgrading and Repairing PCs"; Scott Mueller; 2008
- PW World: Wipe Your Drive Clean Of All Its Sensitive Data
- Photo Credit hard drive interior image by Curtis Sorrentino from Fotolia.com
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