Erase Before Donating

Dear Computer Lady,

I am wanting to rid myself of several old computers.  How can I make sure everything is deleted from it before I give them to someone else?  I don’t want any of my information left. 

Is there a way to delete everything from the hard drive?
Thanks and Many Blessings, Heather


Dear Heather,

There is a way to get rid of all the Information on your old computer. Actually, there are a couple of ways.

First, if your computer came with a system recovery disk, put that disk in the computer and run it. Make sure you select the options that deletes your files, and it will put the computer back the way it was when you first bought it. Your information will be erased thoroughly enough that the average person (myself included) will not be able to access it, but law enforcement would probably be able to retrieve them.

I can’t give you step by step instructions because each computer manufacturer creates their own type of system recovery program.

If you want your computer more securely erased, you will need a program that rewrites the entire drive multiple times. I use a free program to do this for my customers who want their hard drives securely erased. It is called Darik’s Boot and Nuke at:

Warning! This is a dangerous program, it securely deletes EVERYTHING on a hard drive. Do not use it unless you are very sure you know what you are doing.

Darik’s Boot and Nuke takes several hours to run, and when it is finished, there is nothing on the hard drive, not even an operating system. You can then safely give away or donate your computer. If you are not comfortable running the program on your old computers, give me a call. This is a service I provide for my customers.


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    • sj_kac
    • March 24, 2013

    Microsoft has a program (SDelete)for download that erases empty sectors on the disk so whatever was there can not be recovered. Usually when you delete a file only the directory entry is erased not the contents on the disk.
    Recently I recycled an old computer. First I deleted all personal data. Then uninstalled all programs that might contain anything relating to me. Then ran SDelete to erase the now unused sectors on the disk. There was not any real dangerous stuff on the disk so I didn’t need CIA level cleaning, so the Microsoft SDelete program was good enough for me. And it is free.

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