Using Eraser with out internet (specifically, .net 3.5)


New Member

I read a previous thread which described a process for using Eraser on a computer without an internet connection. That is my situation. I have an old Windows XP computer with no internet connection that has been sitting in my daughter's room for two years, and now we want to just get rid of it. Our new computer is a Mac.

I downloaded the Eraser program to the Mac, put it on a data key, and plugged it into the old PC. When I tried to install it, the first thing it did was to try to establish a server connection to download .net Framework 3.5. When it can't do that, it quits, because it says .net Framework 3.5 is required. I thought I could get around this by downloading .net Framework 3.5 to my Mac and then transferring it as I did Eraser, but when I try to open the .net Framework or Eraser on the PC, it still tries to establish a connection to download the .net Framework and quits the whole thing when I can't.

Is there any way to get around this connection requirement? I am not really a computer sort of person, but I can follow directions.

Eraser is a Windows program. The underlying program framework it uses (.NET) is a Microsoft product, also designed for Windows. While it might be possible to get Eraser to work using Parallels or something similar, there is still the issue that Windows and Macs do not, as far as I know, format hard drives in the same way. Eraser, I am afraid, is not for you (unless you also have a Windows computer).

I believe the problem is that your other computer does not have an internet connection and does not have .NET. You will need to download the full .NET 3.5 SP1 installer and put that on your thumbdrive. Install .NET before installing Eraser.
Oops, Joel is right. I did not read your post properly. Sorry.

Thanks, Joel. It took me a long time to get a thumb drive big enough for the net installer, but I finally did got one this week, installed .NET successfully this morning, and installed Eraser on my old (Windows XP, non-internet) computer.

Now I'm getting the following error message when I start the program:

Invalid values:

Default erasure method
Default unused space erasure method
Randomness data source

These have been set to naive defaults (or something like that)

Then, when I go to settings, the erasure method has a blinking red exclamation point and nothing works. I do, however, see some past posts that make reference to this problem, so I will try their solutions and report back. Just wanted to post an update to let you know I'm not ignoring your reply.

I've already run into another problem. When I try to download the root package, it asks for Windows Validation, which it wants to check with a program on my current computer. You will recall, however, that I'm trying to do this whole operation by downloading things onto my Mac and then transferring them to my old PC, which does not have an internet connection. I tried downloading the checker and transferring it to see if I could get a validation code, but that doesn't work (again, I think, because there's no internet connection). Are there any alternatives to keep going with this process?

LauraA said:
Are there any alternatives to keep going with this process?

As matters stand, you are in a Microsoft-generated Catch 22 situation. I'd suggest downloading via a friend who has a valid Microsoft licence, and using a pen drive to transfer from that machine to your old machine.

The other option, again assuming your old machine has a USB connection, is to go to the Eraser Downloads page on SourceForge and download Eraser 5.8.8 portable. This can be unzipped to a pen drive and will run from there. As your old machine uses XP, it will work perfectly well. You could also try downloading the installer for the full version 5.8.8., which will also work well under XP, though it is no longer formally supported. The old versions do not use .NET.

Thanks, David. I downloaded Eraser 5.8.8 from SourceFourge, and it put a folder on my Mac called Standalone. Inside the folder were various files (a text file, Eraser.dll, Eraser.exe, Eraserl.exe, and Erschk.exe), which I loaded onto a pen drive and plugged into the PC. I got all kinds of "illegal" messages, but eventually I did find a button to click that ran some kind of Eraser program on my PC. (This is farther than I've ever gotten before!)

Now I'm having a problem with the program itself, though, since I have no idea how to use it. Since the "help" file didn't work, using the program was guesswork. I selected "New Task", selected the C (main) drive as my folder, and ran the program. That seemed to be the only way to delete at will. It ran for a while, deleting, I suppose, but eventually I got a message saying that it couldn't delete a file because it was in use, so it quit deleting, I think. And I had wondered what was going to happen when Eraser got to the folders necessary to run the program itself. Perhaps this was one of those.

At any rate, there's still plenty of stuff on my PC, including photos, so it's still not empty enough to throw out. Any ideas on how I can completely erase my hard drive using this old version of the program?

Obviously this is a back-burner project for me, one which I do only when I can take time from other tasks for a few minutes. That's why I don't reply very often. But I'd love to get this old computer out of my apartment!

Thanks very much,
LauraA said:
Any ideas on how I can completely erase my hard drive using this old version of the program?
You can't erase your system drive completely using Eraser (any version), because Windows needs to be on the drive for Eraser to run. There are three (at least) approaches you can take.

Approach 1 - more complete, but definitely more geeky - is to use Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN), for which there is a companion forum here, and also a somewhat more active forum on Sourceforge. Essentially, the DBAN software is a complete but minimal operating system, which you boot from a floppy or a CD that you burn from an ISO image. DBAN is designed to erase everything it finds, hence the name.

Approach 2 is to erase the contents of your hard drive folder by folder (switch off any other programs you may be running, including antivirus, to reduce the risk of 'file in use' errors). For obvious reasons, erase only personal files, and do not erase anything you don't recognise, so that the computer continues to function. Then erase the free space on the drive. This is not nearly as thorough as approach 1, but, if you are satisfied that you can no longer find personal data, it might reduce the risk of letting such data out of your own control to manageable proportions.

Approach 3 is the one I personally favour, but it's a bit more trouble. That is, remove the drive from the old computer, put it in a USB caddy, and connect it as a non-system drive to another Windows computer (perhaps a friend's machine) with Eraser installed. Then quick format the drive and erase the free space on it before reinstalling it in the old machine. Reinstall Windows only if you feel the need. This is probably more in most people's comfort zone than using DBAN, and provides a very similar level of privacy protection.