Note: If you use this method to permanently erase your hard drive, you will also erase your Windows operating system. Windows will have to be reinstalled using a Windows Install DVD and your Windows Product Key.
You are getting ready to sell your old laptop or pc. Its perfect time to cash in on your old hardware. One problem is that you want to make sure that the person who is purchasing your new computer does not have access to all of your older files.
When you right-click on a file and select “delete,” Windows doesn’t actually delete the file.
To get an idea of how Windows stores files, think of your hard drive as a giant warehouse with hundreds of shelves. When you save a file on Windows, the computer takes the file, puts it in a box, places it on a shelf, and marks it with a sticker saying “Don’t delete me.”
Once the hard drive is full, there are no more shelves to put boxes on, and since all of the boxes have the stickers on them, Windows can’t replace a previous box with a new one.
When you “delete” a file, the computer simply takes off the “Don’t delete me” sticker from the box. It doesn’t actually take the box off the shelf. When Windows needs space, it can take down that box an replace it with another box. That is when the file is truly deleted. (Note that this isn’t exactly how the file system works, but it’s close enough for our purposes)
Depending on how full your hard drive is, it can take a long time before a deleted file is truly gone, and this allows you (or someone else) to potentially recover files that have been “deleted.”
If you want to sell your computer or just give it to someone else, it is a good practice to truly delete all files on your computer, and that is what we will be doing in this tutorial.
A quick preview of what’s to come:
- We will use Hiren’s Boot CD to boot into a pre-installation environment on a computer.
- We will use the HDD low-level format tool to completely delete everything on the hard drive.
How to use Hiren’s Boot CD to permanently erase files off of your hard drive
In order to completely delete all data on the hard drive, we are going to write over it with zeroes. Writing over it with zeroes will completely erase your hard drive and make the files unrecoverable.
1. From the Hiren’s Boot CD menu, open up the “Utilities” folder, and go to Utilities/Hard Disk Tools/Security.
2. From here, click on the HDD Low Level Format Tool and select which drive that you want to format.
3. Press “Continue,” and then click on the “LOW-LEVEL FORMAT” tab.
4. Press “FORMAT THIS DEVICE” to format the drive.
Note: before you format, make absolutely sure that you have backed up all of your data. When you format the drive, all data will be permanently erased and it will be impossible to recover. Double check everything to make sure that you are not accidentally deleting something vital. You may also have to reinstall Windows or some other operating system after you wipe your hard drive, but that can easily be done if you have your Windows Product Key.
- We used the HDD Low-Level Format Tool to completely delete all of our data, allowing us to give away our computer with no worry of people recovering our data.
- You will have to reinstall Windows after the format (This is good because then you can tell you person buying the computer that it has a fresh install which will make it much more appealing since it will be running like it did when you purchased it)
- Now you can sell your laptop or pc with the peace of mind that none of your files can be recovered.