How To Prepare Your Old Computer's Hard Drive For Disposal
In today's throw away world, most of us have faced the issue of buying a new computer and getting rid of the old one. These old computers are ripe for the picking to those who know how to recover information from the old computers hard drive. Most users do not even think or realize the amount of personal data that their old hard drive may contain. This tutorial will show you how to write over the data on your old hard drive with a series of random characers in no particular order. This will make it very difficult (NOT IMPOSSIBLE) to recover the datat from the hard drive using basic tools.
I must mention that the process used in this article is only a small first line of defense against data theft when disposing of an old computer. There are more advanced steps that may need to be taken by a professional depending on your specific needs, but this will get most average users started on keeping their old data out of the wrong hands.
!!!NOTE: BE SURE YOU HAVE IMPORTANT DATAT THAT YOU NEED FROM YOUR OLD COMPUTERS HARD DRIVE BACKED UP TO A DIFFERENT COMPUTERS HARD DRIVE OR YOU MAY LOSE THE DATA PERMANENTLY!!!
UNetbootin Live USB creator: UNetbootin Live USB Creator
ISO image of a linux distribution called TinyCore: TinyCore
Other Needed Items
USB Flash Drive 1Gb or bigger. This process will erase the contents on the flash drive.
1. Start by grabbing a copy of UNetbootin from the link above. Download the correct file for your PC's Operating System. Follow UNetbootin's installation steps for your particular Operating System.
2. Download an ISO of TinyCore linux distribution from the link above. Remember the locaton where you save this downloaded file.
3. Insert your USB Flash Drive into your PC. Start the UNetbootin program.
4. Once the UNetbootin program starts, select the Diskimage option. Leave the drop down menu on ISO. Now click on the button to the right with the three dots. This will allow you to navigate to the location that you saved your downloaded TinyCore ISO file from step 2. Select the ISO image.
5.Make sure the "Type" option is set to "USB Drive" and the "Drive" option is set to the correct USB drive. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!! As the program will erase any USB that you have selected in this box. (Including your Hard Drive if you choose incorrectly!). Once you are sure the correct USB is selected, clock on the "OK" button and let UNetbootin do its magic.
6. Once UNetbootin has completed the creation of your new Live Linux USB Drive, insert the USB Drive into the machine that you want to erase ALLdata from and power on the machine. Soon as the machine turns on repeatedly press the boot option key (This key is different based on computer type, for example on Dell it is usually the F12 key. You may need to search online for what key your computer uses.)
7. Once you are into your old computers boot menu, select USB boot device and wait for the boot menu to start.
8. When the UNetbootin boot option menu appears, select the "default" option. The TinyCore Live Operating System should now boot up.
9. Once TinyCore has started clock on the "Mount Tool" button on the tool bar. This will start a program that will tell you the drive label of your hard drive. One lable will be in green. This is the label of the live flash drive that you are currently booted into. Usually this will be labeled as sdb or sdb1.
In red you should see sda, sda1, and so forth or something similar. The "sda" is the drive label and the "sda1" represents a partition on the "sda" drive. The key is to find the drive that is listed in red as well as all of its partitions. Refer to the picture for example.
In the picture you notice that "sdb2" is green. Green means that it is currently running or mounted. This tells us the "sdb" and all subsets like "sdb1" and "sdb2" are the flash drive that we are currently booted into. Also, note that "sda" and ALL subsets like "sda1" and "sda3" are in red. Since "sda" or subset is in red it is safe to say that "sda" is our old hard drives label. MAKE NOTE OF THIS LABEL FOR LATER. You can ignore the "sr0" and any subsets of "srX".
10. Next, click on the "Terminal" button on the dock. This will open a Unix terminal where we will run our next command to overwrite the data on the old hard drive.
11. WARNING THE FOLLOWIN COMMAND WILL OVERWRITE THE DATA FROM THE SELECTED HARD DRIVE!!!!!
(REPLACE "sdX" where X is the label letter of your drive that you wrote down in step 10 of this tutorial, in our example we would replace "sdX" with "sda") Press Enter Key
12. It may appear that the terminal stops responding. However, if no command error appeared and the cursor is not flashing, then the command went through successfully. Depending on your hard drive size, this process may take several hours. Once the terminal gives you an output of somthing like this:
Then the process is complete and you can shut down the machine. Now your old hard drive is ready to be disposed of.
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With over 10 years of experience in the Technology field, I have solved my fair share of technical issues and problems.