1 Simple Question for Joel...

juice37

New Member
I've checked the forum and the FAQs and run a search, but can't find the answer to this 1 simple Q.

I'm selling a Vista Pc. I have moved the data I wish to keep, to my external HD and disconnected this drive. I know nothing about this process so please keep it simple for me and others as the site and forum is very technically focused.

Does the PC need reformatting in addition to running Eraser. If it does in which order? Reformat > Run Eraser or Run Eraser > Reformat

Thanks for your help
Ian
 

DavidHB

Active Member
It's not only Joel who can answer a question like that ... :)

Let's do the easy bit first. I assume, from what you say, that you now only have one drive on your machine - your system (C:) drive. You cannot, of course, erase Windows while it is running. Nor can you run Eraser after you have formatted the drive, because Windows and Eraser will both be gone.

So what you do depends on how concerned you are about security. Even if you do not have much sensitive information on the drive, you need to be somewhat concerned, because you will have no control over the machine when you sell it. If you want to be really secure, things can get a bit technical, which is, you tell us, outside your comfort zone. To get some ideas of the issues any user faces in this situation, you might wish to read this thread.

In order that we can suggest the easiest way round this problem, please can you tell us:
  • is the machine a desktop or a laptop?
  • did it come with a Windows install disk, a manufacturer's recovery disk, or neither?
  • does it have a program you can run to restore it to factory condition?
When you have responded to these questions, you can at least start the process of making the machine safe by erasing from your internal HD all the files and folders you have transferred to your external drive; that, by the way, was a very good start. We'll get back to you when we know what kind of machine you are dealing with and can suggest a step by step approach that is relevant to you.

David
 

juice37

New Member
Hi David,

Dell Vista 32-bit Laptop (with Dell/Windows reinstallation DVD). Laptop used for business with lots of key data for my websites, etc. Just need to remove any trace of logins, card details, etc, as its been sold. I need to ship Monday so hopefully I've got enough time.

Thankyou
Ian
 

juice37

New Member
Apologies, forgot to add its for the C drive only.

Thanks
Ian
 

DavidHB

Active Member
Good. This one's pretty straightforward.

With a re-installation DVD, there should be a facility for restoring the system to factory condition. That will be in the documentation for the computer; with a machine from Dell, I would expect that, even if there is no paper manual, there will be a PDF manual included in the DVD and/or downloadable from Dell. It may even be installed on the machine. That manual should provide instructions on how to restore the machine to factory condition; as part of that process the hard drive will be formatted.

What I would do is erase all the personal data you can find on the drive (as previously advised), then restore the machine to factory condition. Then re-install Eraser, and run a free space erase on the drive, which you will almost certainly have to do as administrator. The task log will show lots of error messages relating to erasing cluster tips; don't worry about those. If the erase otherwise completes successfully, your machine is, in my opinion, in saleable condition. That is, anyone other than a well-resourced national security service will not be able to recover your personal data.

I hope this is useful.

David
 

Joel

Active Member
If you're unafraid of getting your hands dirty, you can DBAN the system drive and reinstall Windows. That's a very strong guarantee of success.
 

juice37

New Member
Hi David,

Are these anything to worry about?

1) This is an external HD that I erased hooked up to a different PC while I was doing the procedure you recommended on the laptop.

1. Error F:\System Volume Information did not have its cluster tips erased because of the following error: Access to the path 'F:\System Volume Information' is denied.

2. Error The process cannot access the file 'F:\40{[Jbo7EZ!!mP}ccdhMF-9(Z07lvdyA\' because it is being used by another process.


2) The Vista laptop we have discussed.

1. You're right I had tens of thousands of errors here in the Task Log with the cluster tips comment. Skipping through the long list, many didn't have this cluster tips message though it seems. Is this a Problem?


On both of these drives I used the British HMG IS5 (Enhanced) (3 Pass). Is this enough or would you let both drives run again today while I'm out and if so which Erasure method would you use?

Thanks for your continued support

Ian
 

juice37

New Member
Hi Joel,

Tell me about this DBAN process. Can you point me in the right direction of info that will give times scales as i have to ship this laptop Monday to the buyer. But I'm happy to work all Sunday and through the night if required to get this sorted and also learn for future reference.

I'd need to know where to get the DBAN software, how long it will take to run, on what are 2 clean-ish drives now, fully formatted and run once with the British HMG IS5 (Enhanced) (3 Pass). But as discussed in last post I had lots of errors in the laptop C drive log, many of which did not mention the cluster tips.

Would you both personally send the laptop out now with confidence or would you DBAN or run more Erase Tasks? Just be honest please guys.


Thanks
Ian
 

Joel

Active Member
juice37 said:
Are these anything to worry about?

1) This is an external HD that I erased hooked up to a different PC while I was doing the procedure you recommended on the laptop.

1. Error F:\System Volume Information did not have its cluster tips erased because of the following error: Access to the path 'F:\System Volume Information' is denied.

2. Error The process cannot access the file 'F:\40{[Jbo7EZ!!mP}ccdhMF-9(Z07lvdyA\' because it is being used by another process.
Looks normal.


juice37 said:
2) The Vista laptop we have discussed.

1. You're right I had tens of thousands of errors here in the Task Log with the cluster tips comment. Skipping through the long list, many didn't have this cluster tips message though it seems. Is this a Problem?
No, as well. Most files should be amenable to cluster tip erasures. But about 20000 of them can't be, mostly system files.

juice37 said:
Tell me about this DBAN process. Can you point me in the right direction of info that will give times scales as i have to ship this laptop Monday to the buyer. But I'm happy to work all Sunday and through the night if required to get this sorted and also learn for future reference.

I'd need to know where to get the DBAN software, how long it will take to run, on what are 2 clean-ish drives now, fully formatted and run once with the British HMG IS5 (Enhanced) (3 Pass). But as discussed in last post I had lots of errors in the laptop C drive log, many of which did not mention the cluster tips.
Basically, you just DBAN the system drive, which involves getting the DBAN ISO, burning to disk, booting to DBAN and executing it. Executing DBAN should scale linearly to the speed vs. capacity ratio of your drive. Then you reload the OS into the disk. DBAN doesn't care about cluster tips as the entire filesystem is destroyed.

You should be able to get DBAN from its SourceForge page, http://sourceforge.net/projects/dban.

juice37 said:
Would you both personally send the laptop out now with confidence or would you DBAN or run more Erase Tasks? Just be honest please guys.
TBH, because I know DBAN, I would also DBAN it. But this is really paranoia on a grand scale. My mentality is not so much Eraser doesn't work as it is "if it's worth doing it's worth overdoing." I would hence be able to sell it right now without worries if the buyer came and looked me up.
 

juice37

New Member
For speed no Joel, am i able to re-run another Erase process on top of what i've already done, is this worth it?

Thanks
Ian
 

Joel

Active Member
Haha, I can only give you my opinion, which I have. If you feel uncomfortable with the level of security, then by all means do it. Everyone's requirements are different.
 

juice37

New Member
No it was a serious Q mate, any chance of a simple yes or no before i decide whether DBAN it? Will it at least help if i re-run with a different erase process now on top of what I've done already?

Cheers
Ian
 

juice37

New Member
Also Joel add this to the above please. Is it possible to DBAN just my external HD without affecting the laptop its connect too?

Thanks
Ian
 

DavidHB

Active Member
juice37 said:
Also Joel add this to the above please. Is it possible to DBAN just my external HD without affecting the laptop its connect too?
I believe so, but it is also always possible to make a (bad) mistake. I have seen advice on the DBAN forum to the effect that, unless you plan to 'nuke' every drive that DBAN can see, you shouldn't use it. Remember that, with DBAN, you will be dealing with an unfamiliar application running on an unfamiliar OS. So, given your stated lack of comfort with technical approaches, DBAN may not be the way to go with this.

It is actually as easy to use Eraser for this particular job (completely clearing an external or non-system drive). Quick format the drive, then wipe the free space on it. They may be an odd System folder that Eraser can't touch (typically System Volume Information), but, if you are working with a newly formatted drive, that will not be a major security issue.

Incidentally, my experience fully bears out Joel's earlier answers to your questions, so I don't need to repeat those. But Joel didn't answer your question about the erasing method. On that, technical opinion has changed in recent years, particularly now that we use larger, high-density hard disks. It is actually very difficult (or maybe impossible; the jury is still out) to recover significant amounts even of known data from a drive that has been subjected to even a single pass wipe. So the Eraser default single pass for erasing free space is quite satisfactory for all but those paranoid people who are prepared to wait a long time for a multi-pass free space erase to complete. For erasing actual files and folders, increasing the number of passes is usually not so time-consuming, but the default Gutmann (35 pass) method is almost certainly overkill. I use the HMG 3 pass method for erasing files and folders.

David
 

Joel

Active Member
juice37 said:
No it was a serious Q mate, any chance of a simple yes or no before i decide whether DBAN it? Will it at least help if i re-run with a different erase process now on top of what I've done already?
In all sincerity that was to be and still is my answer -- the question isn't a simple yes or no, unfortunately.

juice37 said:
Is it possible to DBAN just my external HD without affecting the laptop its connect too?
Yes, assuming DBAN detects your drive. Usually you can tell DBAN which drives/partitions you want nuked, I'd usually identify them by partition sizes.
 

DavidHB

Active Member
Joel said:
Usually you can tell DBAN which drives/partitions you want nuked, I'd usually identify them by partition sizes.
This is not something you'd want to get wrong! And, as I said, there's a reasonably straightforward alternative with Eraser.

David
 
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