Dear Computer Lady,
I have a working computer to donate. The OS is Windows XP.
Another family member had used it.
How may I “clean” it so that sensitive “deleted” information cannot be accessed/rejuvenated?
The best way to make sure your information is no longer on the hard drive, is to run a file eraser program, that not only erases individual files, but also everything on the entire hard drive.
My favorite tool is Darik’s Boot And Nuke at http://www.dban.org
There are a few cautions that you need to heed before you use this program though.
First, you need to have a bit of technical knowledge in order to use the program. You need to download the iso file (which is a CD image file) and burn it to a CD.
Second, you need to boot the computer in question from the CD and run it from there. The Dban CD will erase the entire contents of the hard drive on the computer that you run it on. There will be NOTHING left on the drive. No Windows XP and no recovery partition. The people you donate it to will need to know how to install Windows, or use the recovery disk that came with the computer.
Third, once you have created this CD, remember that it is dangerous. All you have to do is boot to the CD and it will be ready to erase all the files on your hard drive. Use it very carefully!
Lastly, if you want your files securely erased, but don’t feel like taking on the task yourself, bring it to your local computer professional, and have them do it for you. This is a service that I offer to my customers.