Cleaning HTPC Prior to Sale?? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 04-17-2014, 05:25 AM - Thread Starter
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After years of working and building several HTPC's I am at the point where I want to sale them. I am retired and we are traveling to much in our motorhome to deal with them. How can I erase all personal info plus leave a clean Win 7 system on them? I have done searches and received lots of different products to use, but I trust the members here more.

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post #2 of 11 Old 04-17-2014, 06:44 AM
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It depends on how sensitive the data are. I mean if it's just like family pictures and general documents I wouldn't even worry about it, I'd just format it and do a fresh install of Windows and whatever other software. I mean who the heck is going to go to the trouble of recovering crap like people's old pictures and personal emails and stuff? Nobody.

However if you have sensitive stuff on there like work-related info which involves confidential company dealings or secrets, or if you work for the military with secret/confidential info, or have confidential client information on there, etc. then yeah you might want to be more careful. Perhaps If you have sensitive personal financial information on there as well, you might want to be slightly more careful. Why you'd have any of that on an HTPC is beyond me but anyway, in that case there are lots of programs on the web you can use to securely wipe an HDD, writing 1/0s, etc with multiple passes.

If these machine(s) have SSDs there are other, much easier ways which give pretty good results (and really you wouldn't want to continually write/erase an SSD 'cause you're going to risk drive failure and lower the drive life regardless).

If you're really that worried, you could always just sell said computers without the hard drives, and take the loss in $$ it would result it. Or you could buy new HDDs and just fresh-install on those.
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post #3 of 11 Old 04-17-2014, 07:01 AM - Thread Starter
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I guess I am mainly concerned about accessing my banking accounts, etc. or passwords. I do have a SSD in one of them.

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post #4 of 11 Old 04-17-2014, 07:11 AM
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I'm not sure if you can actually recover any data from a SSD like you can with a standard rotating disc. If it's an SSD, you can probably get away with doing a fresh install following a reformat (Windows does this automatically as part of the OS installation).

If it's a standard hard drive, I'd wipe the drive and perform several low level formats to ensure complete erasure of any existing data.
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-17-2014, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgathright View Post

I guess I am mainly concerned about accessing my banking accounts, etc. or passwords. I do have a SSD in one of them.
If you're talking about online banking and online passwords, then yeah that stuff is pretty difficult to recover after formatting and reinstalling the OS and programs and none of the banking info is actually stored on the computer in most cases (it's just you viewing online). Plus you can easily change your online passwords anytime, and for banking most people do that every month or so anyway. Perform a low-level format if you're worried or do a single-pass wipe with a freely available program for that purpose. Will probably take a few hours but you've got some peace of mind then.

If you've got actual banking info stored on the computer, like spreadsheets, access information, identity information, etc. etc. then yeah you might want to be a little more aggressive in your effort if you're that worried about it. Otherwise I'd just format and re-install and call it a day. You can also do that and then use a program to just wipe the free space at the end of the drive which won't be so time consuming.

On an SSD, as said, you don't want to start writing data and low-level formatting, etc. Just do a "secure erase" (maybe more than once if you feel you need to) with software provided by the drive maker, and I think you should be fine.

Keep in mind that data recovery, even on an HDD is pretty darn hard to do for the regular computer user and the vast majority of the population. Just ask people that have unintentionally lost data who have tried to recover it, lol.
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-17-2014, 08:53 AM
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Why is that information on the HTPC? Are you banking using your remote? I want to know how biggrin.gif

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post #7 of 11 Old 04-17-2014, 01:00 PM
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-17-2014, 01:32 PM
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For your spinning hard drives, my go to wipe tool is DBAN.  This will boot into an environment that will give you a number of options for wiping the drive.  A single pass of zeros is sufficient to protect you from everything short of a state sponsored attack (and there is some debate around their ability to read drives after a single pass).  Anyone that wants your data that bad is going to get it anyway. 

 

Advice above regarding your SSD is accurate. 

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post #9 of 11 Old 08-02-2014, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
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I did the DBAN wipe today and I am trying to reinstall win 7. It won't accept the key number.

What are my options now?

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post #10 of 11 Old 08-02-2014, 11:03 PM
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Call Microsoft.. they should be able to re-set it..

Might have reached its maximum use count..
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post #11 of 11 Old 08-03-2014, 06:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgathright View Post
I did the DBAN wipe today and I am trying to reinstall win 7. It won't accept the key number.

What are my options now?
Use the phone activation option. It's a royal pain, but it does work. You'll see a screen with about 16 boxes, each containing a 5-digit number. When you call the activation toll free number you punch in the numbers on the screen. You'll then get a response with a similar set of numbers that you enter using your keyboard. The numbers can be repeated if you don't get it right the first time. Once you've entered all the numbers you can activate the software. If that doesn't work then you'll need to contact Microsoft.
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