Erasing Personal Information from a Shared Computer?

We are giving an old computer to a friend. What can we do to clear the memory of our personal information?

Donna from Columbus, OH

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 277 Posts
November 4, 20070 found this helpful

I just recently came across this info.

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John Asks About Erasing Data From His Hard Drive

There are a lot of different software programs that claim they can erase files and data from the hard drive so that they cannot be recovered by anyone. Have you ever used any of these programs and if so which ones would you recommend? I have been a subscriber of your newsletter for a long time and have used several of the programs you have recommended and have been completely satisfied with them. Thank you for being out there and providing such accurate and informative information through your newsletters. John
Our Answer
There is one free program which works well and it is one which have used for many years. It's called "Eraser" and there is nothing simpler to use. You can download "Eraser" free (no spyware or adware of course) by visiting this Web site.

A couple of things you should know: When you delete a file from Windows, it is not really deleted. Deleting a file simply frees up the space that the file occupied so that space can be used for other things. In other words, deleting a four-megabyte file simple tells Windows that the four-megabytes of space once occupied by that file is now available for use. The file still exists and can be recovered. You can never erase a file, you can, however render it virtually unrecoverable by overwriting it many times with data. This is how Eraser works. It overwrites the space occupied by the deleted file many times with random characters, effectively rendering the deleted file unrecoverable. The more times the freed space is over-written the less likely it is that the file you deleted could ever be recovered.
The FBI and other investigative agencies have access to very powerful software recovery programs. The can extract data even from damaged hard drives. Such software as used by these types of investigative agencies is available to anyone. The reason why most law-abiding citizens would want to thoroughly erase data is to prevent the recovery of passwords, social security numbers and credit card information from their hard drives. Anything you type or do in Windows leaves a trail somewhere. It's best to erase all sensitive information before selling your computer. Simply deleting the files is not good enough.

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November 5, 20070 found this helpful

You could always FORMAT drive C with the click of a few buttons..... Now that would erase EVERYTHING (except the operating system, I believe) & the new owners would have to install all their own programs, so may be too drastic for what you want. Just google "reformat Hard Drive" to get the instructions if you want to,

or click this link to read CNET'S ADVICE:

OR Microsoft's

Otherwise, that ERASER program someone previously suggested sounds good & efficient!

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By (Guest Post)
November 5, 20070 found this helpful

Even though it sounds very wasteful, the best thing to do with a computer you don't want anymore is to take a sledgehammer to it. Even if you "wash" it and give to someone you trust, you can't control what THEY do with it down the road. I'm sure anyone who has ever experienced identity theft would gladly have paid a few hundred dollars (or whatever an old computer might be worth) to prevent the identity theft. After you've destroyed the computer ask your local public works department how to dispose of it properly. I know this is hard for people like us who don't even want to waste a soda tab, but sometimes safety needs to outweigh thrift.

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 277 Posts
November 5, 20070 found this helpful

you don't have to destroy the actual computer... just take out the hard drive and destroy that. a new hard drive can always be put back in

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By (Guest Post)
November 5, 20070 found this helpful is where you can download a free erase program. You can erase your whole harddrive with this program. Once you erase there is no turning back!! Make sure this is what you want to do. This website is a lady who gives computer advice and tips for happy computering. This is a trust worthy site.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 791 Feedbacks
November 6, 20070 found this helpful

Go to and check their tip archives. They just covered that subject in today's e-newsletter. Good luck, and God bless you.

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November 4, 2007

How do erase all information stored on a hard drive? Our company computer is also used for personal use and I don't want all my bank and credit card info etc. to be available for the next person to be able to access.




Erasing Personal Information from a Shared Computer

Well there is really no way to erase it permanently from the hard drive. One thing you can do to help is to delete your history, cookies, etc. after you've used the computer. Depending on what versions of Windows you are running you'll click on Tools (up at the top of your Internet Explorer window), then Internet Options, and then choose to delete cookies, forms, etc. This will keep any info you've recently entered from being easily accessible. But once something is on the computer it's pretty much on the hard drive forever (although it would take a real expert to find it). I hope that helps! (06/04/2007)

By Tricia

Erasing Personal Information from a Shared Computer

Would 'Window Washer ' help by Webroot?
Ebay has them inexpensively. Or would it wipe out everything? (06/04/2007)


By Holly

Erasing Personal Information from a Shared Computer

If you have put information on a shared or company computer any half way decent computer forensics person can dig it out of a hard drive and use it.

Also if your company is of any size or values the information on it yours or theirs matters not- they will back up the data to a server every 24 hours or less. For the most part if you put infor on the hard drive someone with fair computer skills can get to it. If you have administrator rights and really want to kill the infor off, you can use a program called "Plow" or several others designed to basically wipe the HD. Of course then you have to reformat and frankly I doubt if everyone in your company has those rights. For security purposes usually only one person in an administration will have these rights. Your best hope is to not put private info on any computer you cannot control.


Good luck.

By James S. Bow

Erasing Personal Information from a Shared Computer

Well...I can control my computer at home and I was also worried about that one too. Should I ever get rid of it I don't want info floating around. (06/07/2007)

By IMAQT1962

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