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  1. #11
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    Hello Donna B. and Digerati, Thanks so much for the information (above). This is just a quick reply to let you know I've gotten it, and printed it. As it's almost midnight, I'll have to read it thoroughly tomorrow, as I'm too tired to mentally digest it now. I'll respond with another reply tomorrow. Thanks again.
    scottt331

  2. #12
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    Thumbs up Further Reply to Donna B. and Digerati, tonight (more tomorrow).

    Hello Donna B. and Digerati, I figured I'd try my best to stay up a bit longer to read through the transcript I printed of both of your thoughts and ideas. I really do appreciate the thoroughness. 1- Regarding the matter concerning the "clean all" method, I'll admit, I have no idea. But I doubt this will matter as I doubt my dad will attempt such a task. As he's not very familiar with command prompts and would likely seek an easier (if possible) route. Digerati to look at your first reply on 11/04 @ 9:43 AM: (and Donna B. please also see) the second half of his comment... 1- As that was one question, "Whether a factory restore would do the job?". (And it seems you are saying it wouldn't). [I'll opt out on the "clean install" technicalities, as again, I don't know]. 2- However, I could see him using a program like CCleaner to wipe the drive. (Or I have a program with System Mechanic Professional called (Drive Scrubber), that I think does the similar task).

    Thus, Digerati (and Donna B.): "I see where you say when you get the computer back start over by "wiping" and then reinstalling Windows", (regardless how you wipe). And, it seems you're recommending to do this "automatically" (as you don't know if the shop did it the right way (or not). Is this correct?

    Last question: "Thus I take it there is no way to (first) test whether it was wiped correctly or not, before you did (the above)?" (Unless of course you were that savvy computer user, which neither he nor I would be). (Ie. There's no program to "test" if they did the job right, etc?).

    Thanks for both of your replies.
    scottt331

  3. #13
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    @Donna - Thanks - now I see where you are coming from and where the confusion (in part, my doing - sorry) is coming in. In that thread, you are discussing the use of DISKPART - a totally different command from format, and one that may or may not be a part of any "Recovery" process. And while DiskPart might run as part of a notebook's recovery process to restore the original partition, there is nothing that says they programed Recovery to add the "clean all" switch. There's really no need to wipe the whole disk in a recovery process. Wipe is a security feature and not a maintenance feature.

    And I guess more importantly, there is no industry standard among notebook makers, notebooks or recovery processes in general requiring the running of DiskPart (with or without the clean all switch). I am saying while Lenovo may include DiskPart in their recovery process for their notebooks, they may not add the Clean all switch, and there is nothing that says Dell or Toshiba must add them either.

    So, Donna, you are correct the DiskPart clean all option does over-write each sector and I apologize for messing that up. But it is not safe to assume diskpart was run and/or the "clean all" option was selected on this drive by that shop. And I don't see why they would. I don't run DiskPart when folks bring their computers in here to prep them for resell. There's not normally a need for normal users to ever run DiskPart and there are easier, and more intuitive, ways to wipe a disk (or just the free space) clean of any and all personal data.

    I say more intuitive because it is not intuitive to find a sector wipe feature in a partition utility. And because the vast majority of users should never need to enter commands from the command prompt.

    Quote Originally Posted by scottt331
    And, it seems you're recommending to do this "automatically"...Is this correct?
    No! Not now. I mean you can, but then you waste more time and the money already spent at the shop. I suggested CCleaner because it has an option to "wipe" just the free disk space (without wiping out the current installation of Windows) and that's what you want. If System Mechanic allows you to ONLY wipe the "free" space, then that would likely be okay. But frankly, other than the name, I am not familiar with the intricacies of that program and so I recommend CCleaner. Or as mentioned before, just fill up the drive a couple times with songs, or photos or other big files that are not personally identifiable to your family. This would actually be simple. Create a folder, and fill it up. Delete the contents of the folder and fill it up again. Then delete the folder (taking all the contents with it), run Windows Disk Cleanup (or CCleaner's cleaner) to, among other things, empty the Recycle Bin, and I would be comfortable selling it - and I'm almost as paranoid about security as Donna - and I mean that in a good way. Better to be paranoid (her own self-description, btw ) than lackadaisical.

    That said, no badguy is going to pay money for a whole working notebook just to see if there MIGHT be any bank account or password information left behind. If someone does, they likely (1) have a personal vendetta against you or (2) are the FBI looking at you!! And clearly then you would have bigger issues to deal with.

    I do think it necessary to automatically wipe a drive if you will be selling, giving away, throwing away, or donating the drive/computer. And if you had not already taken it to a shop for that purpose, I would recommend that. And if you told the shop your were preparing the notebook for re-sale, then I suspect all is good. By far, most repair shops are reputable. But just to be safe, wiping the free space only is a prudent step for surety.

    Note - to wipe a drive, the drive must be operational. If the drive is not usable, I drill 3 holes all the way through the drive and platters and toss it into my old electronics recycle bin - just to be sure no data is recoverable.

    Last question: "Thus I take it there is no way to (first) test whether it was wiped correctly or not, before you did (the above)?" (Unless of course you were that savvy computer user, which neither he nor I would be). (Ie. There's no program to "test" if they did the job right, etc?).
    There are no programs that I know of that can confirm if a drive has been wiped. Since wipe programs wipe by writing a bunch of random 1s and 0s to the drive, you could not tell if the 1s and 0s you see represent real data or if they are just a bunch of random 1s and 0s. At least not without some very sophisticated and expensive forensic analysis tools, and lots and lots of time - and even then it would be unlikely any usable data would be recoverable.

    There are disk analysis programs that allow you to bypass all the tables and look at the current data stored in individual disk sectors. Sector Editor is one. But note those are very basic "forensic" type utilities, yet you just don't need to go to that extent - unless your sister is a CIA operative - but then she likely would not be seeking your help on this.

    Where is this computer going? To friend or family? Or to strangers? It is important to understand that even without a wipe, no normal user is ever going to accidentally discover any previously stored data. And it is also important to note that as soon as, and every time the computer is used after a Windows install, more and more of the free space will be over-written with new data - just by using Windows (new user account files, temporary system and Internet files, cookies, index, the page file and more). Really, the only reason to wipe a drive is to keep honest people honest, and to make it just hard enough for badguys to get discouraged quickly (which they easily do) so they move on to (the plentiful supply of) easier pickings.

    ****

    Oh, and a reminder. It is most likely the Windows license that originally came with that notebook was an OEM license. One of the terms of the OEM license your sister agreed to when she decided to keep using Windows on that computer is that the original installation disks go with the computer if/when ownership of the "original equipment" changes. Of course, not all notebooks come with original disks, but if this one did, they should go with it.
    Last edited by Digerati; 11-05-2012 at 12:11 PM. Reason: fixed typos
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
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  5. #14
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    Thumbs up Digerati and DonnaB, thank you for your assistance with this situation- all done...

    Thanks Digerati and DonnaB for all of your assistance with this case. I apologize I haven't posted in a couple of days. Work has been ... well you know the story... I did want to let you know that my Dad did get the laptop back from the computer shop who told him, "(They) had reinstalled the OS from the partition (as he had no actual disk), and that they cleaned the hard drive". Thus we/he took your advice (both of you), and specifically in this case Digerati's suggestion about using CCleaner to wipe the "free space" for 7 passes. That was a great idea and I appreciate it, Digerati; as initially he was just going to wipe the entire disk and reinstall again (himself). (But when I explained the - above- plan, he agreed, and said it took a while but he completed the task.

    Again, thanks to you both for helping. I consider myself an intermediate user, and this website has been a great help over the past three years. Thanks!

    scottt331

  6. #15
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    and said it took a while but he completed the task.
    It can take a very long time - especially with large disks and multiple passes. It would have taken longer if he had it do the whole disk, instead of the just the free space - not just to wipe, but to then reinstall the OS and drivers too.

    At this point, even if the shop did not really ensure all the data was gone, it is now and if that were my computer, I would not be worried any longer.

    Good luck selling it - but if you don't get what you are asking for it, consider donating to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Disabled Vets. You can even write it off on taxes - but you MUST claim a realistic "fair market value" for it (what YOU would pay for this used computer at a garage sale).
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
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    Heat is the bane of all electronics!
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  8. #16
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    This thread has NOTHING to do with finding duplicates!

    On top of that, I see no reason to pay nearly $20 for this program when there are many, very capable, free alternatives available. While this does have a free trial offer, they still want you to pay.

    A little word of advice, georgesam - when a member joins a tech support forum and their only post is a reply to a thread that has been dormant for over 4 months, it makes that poster look suspiciously like a spammer testing the waters. And when the product mentioned is a commercial product, more red flags go up as most of the time it turns out the poster is a scumbag spammer and the post is there simply for personal, financial gains - for greed! Not to provide help, but to shamelessly use another's resources to promote a product you have a personal financial interest in. Not cool!

    And when the commercial product promoted has NOTHING to do with the thread topic or the OP's problem, as is the case here, it pretty much confirms the post is spam and the poster is an insincere, scumbag spammer. Not the kind of attention someone sincerely here to help wants.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!
    MS MVP, 2007 - 2018
    ─────────────────────

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