Clearing a Work Computer
September 27, 2004 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm changing jobs and want to make sure I wipe clean anything I don't want to leave behind on my computer (personal, not work-related). Other than deleting files, what else should I do that will not ruin anything that the company needs on the hard drive? Also, is there a way to import all my browser faves into a text file or something to save them and take them all with me?
posted by archimago to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
If you have Windows you can email yourself your Favorites folder - it's in Documents and Settings - make sure you have the right one, as there are Favorites folders for owner, user, and so on and so forth.

Also see this thread.
posted by iconomy at 8:33 AM on September 27, 2004

In IE, go to File -> Import and Export. Use the wizard to Export your Favorites and/or cookies. Save or e-mail these small html/text files to yourself. You can do the same thing in the Bookmark Manager windows of Firefox/Mozilla.
posted by mookieproof at 8:38 AM on September 27, 2004

Get something like BCWipe to really erase all traces of those deleted files. BCWipe is nice as it can be run from a DOS prompt without being installed - nice if they have the desktop locked down. Are you concerned about your surfing history? Every site you ever visited (with Internet Explorer) is still in index.dat files. Boot into DOS and remover these with the del command using the /s parameter. Of course, they will have all this in the firewall access records so it is probably a waste of time.
posted by caddis at 8:43 AM on September 27, 2004

Also, is there a way to import all my browser faves into a text file or something to save them and take them all with me?

Not really the question, but still on-topic., This is yet another excellent reason to use a service like for managing web sites.
posted by terrapin at 9:12 AM on September 27, 2004

Also, if you are going to use export/import to save your favorites test it first. Sometimes IE refuses to import. I was working with different versions of IE and a huge amount of favorites, but I had it fail on me. Favorites in IE are just shortcuts arranged in a subdirectory on the C drive. You can simply copy this entire subdirectory onto a floppy, CD or USB memory stick.
posted by caddis at 10:49 AM on September 27, 2004

no, I'm not concerned for my surfing history. If they cared up till now they would have fired me for sure years ago, not that I ever go to NSFW sites anyways. I'm just more concerned with files that may have personal information in them, like drafts of letters I may have written while at work, those kinds of things. Plus I have tons of sites saved in my favorites that I want to travel with me.
posted by archimago at 11:38 AM on September 27, 2004

If you'd like to properly delete those files easily, you'll want to use shredi(e).exe. Download the file shredder for free (and free forever) from This will securely delete anything dragged to it, however, it does take its time (a good indication). I'm sure you could use it on your website history file (not that you seem to care! :-)

The only problem left is the windows cache, which often ends up with bits of personal info in it. Up to now I still haven't found a free way to do that easily. I suppose you could tell windows to put the swap file elsewhere, then securely delete the old one with shredi.exe.

Well, there's still one last problem: Erasing the rest of the hard drive, since bits and pieces can end up spread all over if files have ever been edited or deleted. You could do that with shredi.exe by creating a file that takes up the rest of your drive space, then shredding it, but that sucks. No, I don't have a free solution to that, yet.

I haven't tried it, but eraser is Free, and it covers the problems I've mentioned that limit shredi.exe.

Easier just to encrypt everything from day one, instead. :-)
posted by shepd at 1:15 PM on September 27, 2004

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