How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows?

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DMKAlex
DMKAlex Veteran Member • Posts: 4,663
How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows?

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

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RealCereal Contributing Member • Posts: 524
KillDisk
1

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

You can delete all the personal files and then do a wipe of just the free space.

This is essentially the same thing, but with Windows intact.

I recommend using Active @Kill-Disk and select Wipe Free Space once you delete your personal files

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Gesture Veteran Member • Posts: 6,607
Re: KillDisk

This might help:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3cjTqCQemU

Plus wipe unused space makes sense, although I think you would need to do it multiple times.

calson Veteran Member • Posts: 9,681
Re: How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer
5

I would do a factory reinstall using the hidden partition on the computer. It is the only way to remove 100% of your personal data and to get a clean Windows registry which is very important. Often applications leave behind hidden files with user data, including license and registration and password information.

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XiaoDeer Forum Member • Posts: 76
Re: How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer
6

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

There is no method that I would trust. Windows create two many caches all over the system drive. No way to be sure they're all gone.

Use the Windows Media Create Tool to create a bootable DVD or thumb. Than zap the drive completely -- I normally use DBAN. Then do a basic Win 10 install from the media your created. It doesn't take long at all.

Pretty straight forward and you'll know it's done right.

DMKAlex
OP DMKAlex Veteran Member • Posts: 4,663
Re: How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer

XiaoDeer wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

There is no method that I would trust. Windows create two many caches all over the system drive. No way to be sure they're all gone.

Use the Windows Media Create Tool to create a bootable DVD or thumb. Than zap the drive completely -- I normally use DBAN. Then do a basic Win 10 install from the media your created. It doesn't take long at all.

Pretty straight forward and you'll know it's done right.

My computer was originally Windows 8 and upgraded to Windows 10.

So I can create a bootable media (USB) and format the disk and boot from the USB. Then I can go on Microsoft to download the Windows 10 OS. Do I use the sticker on the back of my laptop as the key?

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rb0321
rb0321 Senior Member • Posts: 2,674
Re: How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer

DMKAlex wrote:

XiaoDeer wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

There is no method that I would trust. Windows create two many caches all over the system drive. No way to be sure they're all gone.

Use the Windows Media Create Tool to create a bootable DVD or thumb. Than zap the drive completely -- I normally use DBAN. Then do a basic Win 10 install from the media your created. It doesn't take long at all.

Pretty straight forward and you'll know it's done right.

My computer was originally Windows 8 and upgraded to Windows 10.

So I can create a bootable media (USB) and format the disk and boot from the USB. Then I can go on Microsoft to download the Windows 10 OS. Do I use the sticker on the back of my laptop as the key?

Just played around with this recently using an older 'donated' PC running Win 7. With the bootable media creation tool USB, I first ungraded to Win 10 successfully (yes, using the key on the sticker) then I used the bootable USB to install Win 10 on an SSD I picked up. You don't have to download Win 10 beforehand as the USB gets what it needs automatically.

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DMKAlex
OP DMKAlex Veteran Member • Posts: 4,663
Re: How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer

rb0321 wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

XiaoDeer wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

There is no method that I would trust. Windows create two many caches all over the system drive. No way to be sure they're all gone.

Use the Windows Media Create Tool to create a bootable DVD or thumb. Than zap the drive completely -- I normally use DBAN. Then do a basic Win 10 install from the media your created. It doesn't take long at all.

Pretty straight forward and you'll know it's done right.

My computer was originally Windows 8 and upgraded to Windows 10.

So I can create a bootable media (USB) and format the disk and boot from the USB. Then I can go on Microsoft to download the Windows 10 OS. Do I use the sticker on the back of my laptop as the key?

Just played around with this recently using an older 'donated' PC running Win 7. With the bootable media creation tool USB, I first ungraded to Win 10 successfully (yes, using the key on the sticker) then I used the bootable USB to install Win 10 on an SSD I picked up. You don't have to download Win 10 beforehand as the USB gets what it needs automatically.

Can you give me the instruction on how to create a USB bootable?

Thanks.

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scrambler2 Contributing Member • Posts: 697
Re: How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer...

If you dont reinstall windows (reinstalling being the best way), at least create a New user with administrator privileges, then login with this new user, and delete the old user making sure to select delete the user files.

Then Wipe free space

Austinian
Austinian Veteran Member • Posts: 8,294
Re: How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer
4

DMKAlex wrote:

Can you give me the instruction on how to create a USB bootable?

Thanks.

See this to create Windows 10 installation media. Microsoft calls it a media creation tool:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

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rb0321
rb0321 Senior Member • Posts: 2,674
Re: How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer
1

DMKAlex wrote:

rb0321 wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

XiaoDeer wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

There is no method that I would trust. Windows create two many caches all over the system drive. No way to be sure they're all gone.

Use the Windows Media Create Tool to create a bootable DVD or thumb. Than zap the drive completely -- I normally use DBAN. Then do a basic Win 10 install from the media your created. It doesn't take long at all.

Pretty straight forward and you'll know it's done right.

My computer was originally Windows 8 and upgraded to Windows 10.

So I can create a bootable media (USB) and format the disk and boot from the USB. Then I can go on Microsoft to download the Windows 10 OS. Do I use the sticker on the back of my laptop as the key?

Just played around with this recently using an older 'donated' PC running Win 7. With the bootable media creation tool USB, I first ungraded to Win 10 successfully (yes, using the key on the sticker) then I used the bootable USB to install Win 10 on an SSD I picked up. You don't have to download Win 10 beforehand as the USB gets what it needs automatically.

Can you give me the instruction on how to create a USB bootable?

Thanks.

Sure, just download the MediaCreationTool1809.exe from Microsoft, then run it with a formatted USB drive inserted. It will ask what you want and select create a bootable drive. Edit - Turn off PC, leave USB in slot and start up, follow the instructions.

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tkbslc Forum Pro • Posts: 13,170
Who are you giving it to?
1

Who are you giving your computer to?

If it is to a stranger, then wipe the HDD completely with a tool like DBAN and re-install windows fresh. If it is an SSD, then often the SSD maker will have a secure erase tool, as those work a bit different than HDD.

If it is to be given to a trusted friend or family member, then just delete all of your personal files, create a new user profile, and delete all other user profiles.   Consider running something like CCleaner.

afterburn Senior Member • Posts: 1,075
You have the tools already
3

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

Go into settings to reset the pc and select include personal files. It will be just as fresh as a new install. Want more, log in again and follow this guide :https://www.howtogeek.com/137108/how-securely-overwrite-free-space-in-windows/ and nobody will be able to recover anything either.

Suggestions to reinstall above also require that guide if you are worried about recovery as not even a regular format and reinstall will render files unrecoverable perse.

It is the quickest and easiest method. Don't buy into the aluminum hats.

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PhotoFactor Senior Member • Posts: 2,840
Re: You have the tools already
1

afterburn wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

Go into settings to reset the pc and select include personal files. It will be just as fresh as a new install. Want more, log in again and follow this guide :https://www.howtogeek.com/137108/how-securely-overwrite-free-space-in-windows/ and nobody will be able to recover anything either.

Suggestions to reinstall above also require that guide if you are worried about recovery as not even a regular format and reinstall will render files unrecoverable perse.

It is the quickest and easiest method. Don't buy into the aluminum hats.

It's not alumnium hat to worry about data being properly erased. I would want to ensure that the reset truly erases the personal files, or you could undelete them.

I've used the program ERASER in the past to fully wipe a drive, it can even do many passes.

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afterburn Senior Member • Posts: 1,075
Re: You have the tools already
1

PhotoFactor wrote:

afterburn wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

Go into settings to reset the pc and select include personal files. It will be just as fresh as a new install. Want more, log in again and follow this guide :https://www.howtogeek.com/137108/how-securely-overwrite-free-space-in-windows/ and nobody will be able to recover anything either.

Suggestions to reinstall above also require that guide if you are worried about recovery as not even a regular format and reinstall will render files unrecoverable perse.

It is the quickest and easiest method. Don't buy into the aluminum hats.

It's not alumnium hat to worry about data being properly erased. I would want to ensure that the reset truly erases the personal files, or you could undelete them.

I've used the program ERASER in the past to fully wipe a drive, it can even do many passes.

A reset of windows 10 does exactly what it says. It deletes all programs, drivers, registry entries and everything else, including personal data if selected, and returns windows to the state of a freshly installed copy.

It's also a great way to get rid of all the oem bloatware you get for 'free' if you have a pre-configured pc from the likes of Dell, hp and the likes btw.

The aluminum hat was reference to not trusting MS and having to use 3rd party tools btw, when you have perfectly working tools available already included. Including making sure files cannot be recovered with multiple passes of writes. Not the worry about data recovery, which is very valid and more people should worry about.

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Nikon D800/Fuji X-T1

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PhotoFactor Senior Member • Posts: 2,840
Re: You have the tools already

afterburn wrote:

PhotoFactor wrote:

afterburn wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

Go into settings to reset the pc and select include personal files. It will be just as fresh as a new install. Want more, log in again and follow this guide :https://www.howtogeek.com/137108/how-securely-overwrite-free-space-in-windows/ and nobody will be able to recover anything either.

Suggestions to reinstall above also require that guide if you are worried about recovery as not even a regular format and reinstall will render files unrecoverable perse.

It is the quickest and easiest method. Don't buy into the aluminum hats.

It's not alumnium hat to worry about data being properly erased. I would want to ensure that the reset truly erases the personal files, or you could undelete them.

I've used the program ERASER in the past to fully wipe a drive, it can even do many passes.

A reset of windows 10 does exactly what it says. It deletes all programs, drivers, registry entries and everything else, including personal data if selected, and returns windows to the state of a freshly installed copy.

It's also a great way to get rid of all the oem bloatware you get for 'free' if you have a pre-configured pc from the likes of Dell, hp and the likes btw.

The aluminum hat was reference to not trusting MS and having to use 3rd party tools btw, when you have perfectly working tools available already included. Including making sure files cannot be recovered with multiple passes of writes. Not the worry about data recovery, which is very valid and more people should worry about.

Not arguing with you, just curious - so the reset actually writes zeros or random data to the entire disk (minus OS) where files were stored, and not just deletes them in the directory?

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afterburn Senior Member • Posts: 1,075
Re: You have the tools already
1

PhotoFactor wrote:

afterburn wrote:

PhotoFactor wrote:

afterburn wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

Go into settings to reset the pc and select include personal files. It will be just as fresh as a new install. Want more, log in again and follow this guide :https://www.howtogeek.com/137108/how-securely-overwrite-free-space-in-windows/ and nobody will be able to recover anything either.

Suggestions to reinstall above also require that guide if you are worried about recovery as not even a regular format and reinstall will render files unrecoverable perse.

It is the quickest and easiest method. Don't buy into the aluminum hats.

It's not alumnium hat to worry about data being properly erased. I would want to ensure that the reset truly erases the personal files, or you could undelete them.

I've used the program ERASER in the past to fully wipe a drive, it can even do many passes.

A reset of windows 10 does exactly what it says. It deletes all programs, drivers, registry entries and everything else, including personal data if selected, and returns windows to the state of a freshly installed copy.

It's also a great way to get rid of all the oem bloatware you get for 'free' if you have a pre-configured pc from the likes of Dell, hp and the likes btw.

The aluminum hat was reference to not trusting MS and having to use 3rd party tools btw, when you have perfectly working tools available already included. Including making sure files cannot be recovered with multiple passes of writes. Not the worry about data recovery, which is very valid and more people should worry about.

Not arguing with you, just curious - so the reset actually writes zeros or random data to the entire disk (minus OS) where files were stored, and not just deletes them in the directory?

Not taking it as such. No, reset does not. But windows does include the tools to do just that; see the link I posted in my original post. Hence I added that to make sure to cover data recovery safety as well.

Even if you want to use 3rd party tools to ensure deleted data cannot be recovered, a reset will still be quicker than a reinstall or manually trying to find all the files you want gone. Plus doing it manually leaves all the garba2ledt from once installed software

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woodyggg Contributing Member • Posts: 884
Re: You have the tools already
1

afterburn wrote:

PhotoFactor wrote:

afterburn wrote:

PhotoFactor wrote:

afterburn wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

How to completely erase personal stuff from a computer, without formatting and reinstalling Windows? Windows 10.

Go into settings to reset the pc and select include personal files. It will be just as fresh as a new install. Want more, log in again and follow this guide :https://www.howtogeek.com/137108/how-securely-overwrite-free-space-in-windows/ and nobody will be able to recover anything either.

Suggestions to reinstall above also require that guide if you are worried about recovery as not even a regular format and reinstall will render files unrecoverable perse.

It is the quickest and easiest method. Don't buy into the aluminum hats.

It's not alumnium hat to worry about data being properly erased. I would want to ensure that the reset truly erases the personal files, or you could undelete them.

I've used the program ERASER in the past to fully wipe a drive, it can even do many passes.

A reset of windows 10 does exactly what it says. It deletes all programs, drivers, registry entries and everything else, including personal data if selected, and returns windows to the state of a freshly installed copy.

It's also a great way to get rid of all the oem bloatware you get for 'free' if you have a pre-configured pc from the likes of Dell, hp and the likes btw.

The aluminum hat was reference to not trusting MS and having to use 3rd party tools btw, when you have perfectly working tools available already included. Including making sure files cannot be recovered with multiple passes of writes. Not the worry about data recovery, which is very valid and more people should worry about.

Not arguing with you, just curious - so the reset actually writes zeros or random data to the entire disk (minus OS) where files were stored, and not just deletes them in the directory?

Not taking it as such. No, reset does not. But windows does include the tools to do just that; see the link I posted in my original post. Hence I added that to make sure to cover data recovery safety as well.

Even if you want to use 3rd party tools to ensure deleted data cannot be recovered, a reset will still be quicker than a reinstall or manually trying to find all the files you want gone. Plus doing it manually leaves all the garba2ledt from once installed software

You're completely missing the point then. It's like two different conversations are happening.

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calson Veteran Member • Posts: 9,681
Re: You have the tools already
1

Do I want to trust the software engineers to have their reset application remove all personal data from 100% of the utilities and applications that were installed? Not a chance in hell.

I have worked with their products as a pro in IT since 1982 and their kludgey architecture guarantees that detritus will get left behind. There were good reasons why Microsoft had to give Windows 10 away for free and why there were still very few IT shops that had upgraded their desktops 2 years later.

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afterburn Senior Member • Posts: 1,075
Re: You have the tools already
3

calson wrote:

Do I want to trust the software engineers to have their reset application remove all personal data from 100% of the utilities and applications that were installed? Not a chance in hell.

I have worked with their products as a pro in IT since 1982 and their kludgey architecture guarantees that detritus will get left behind. There were good reasons why Microsoft had to give Windows 10 away for free and why there were still very few IT shops that had upgraded their desktops 2 years later.

You know it always irks me when someone starts off asserting expert knowledge on a subject in an attempt to give their personal opinion authority, yet continues to display a complete unwillingness to do basic research on the subject to find out how it actually works and instead spouts of personal opinions and underbelly feelings as facts. 🤐

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