Parting with the old laptop - protecting my stuff
March 13, 2009 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Cleaning up the old laptop for sale -- what must I do to get it ready to hand over to someone else?

I am selling my laptop. This is a Windows XP system with multiple users. What is the easiest way to back up a bunch of stuff -- iTunes music, tons of photos, Word docs, etc -- for quick re-placement on a new machine. What about auto-passwords, etc? - should I just wipe out the browsers and let the new owner reinstall? Anything else I might be overlooking? thanks.
posted by terrier319 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard good things about Darik's Nuke And Boot (DBAN) as a good step in wiping the lot. Backups I'd imagine it'd be best to do manually, then DBAN, then reinstall windows.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:24 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Are you selling it with or without an OS? If without, use Happy Dave's suggestion. If with, use your XP system disc to format and reinstall.
posted by nitsuj at 10:26 AM on March 13, 2009

I've used DBAN and it worked just fine. Happy Dave's suggestion sounds like the go. Definitely use DBAN or something similar before handing over your computer.
posted by different at 11:05 AM on March 13, 2009

Do you have the XP discs it came with? If so you should wipe the disk and reinstall it.

If you dont then you can log in as administrator, delete all the user profiles, uninstall everything, and wipe the newly created blank space by downloading sdelete and running sdelete -z

Doing a wipe and reinstall is the better way. If you dont use something like DBAN and you just format the drive during installation then you should do an sdelete -z after install.

What is the easiest way to back up a bunch of stuff -- iTunes music, tons of photos, Word docs, etc -- for quick re-placement on a new machine.

Easiest? Probably just copying all these files to an external USB drive. You might want to copy your entire profile to be extra sure.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:11 AM on March 13, 2009

Depending on what types of data you have and who you're selling to, I would *strongly* recommend against simply formatting the drive. Sensitive information (financial, health, taxes, etc) should be deleted *securely* (through DBAN or another "shredding" utility) before handing the system over. If you don't know if you have that type of data on your system, you can use a tool like Identity Finder to identify and securely delete it. Formatting or dragging the files to your recycle bin removes "easy" access to the data, but it can still be retrieved if someone is willing to put in a little bit of effort.
posted by um_maverick at 1:05 PM on March 13, 2009

Remove the hard disk and plug it as a secondary disk to another PC.
Do a secure erase and after that run a data recovery program to make sure you can't recover any data.
posted by WizKid at 1:53 PM on March 13, 2009

Music, photos, documents, etc., can be burned to cd. Consider getting an external hard drive with a USB connection and backing up to a hard drive. I organize all files into My Documents before backing them up, which makes them easy to restore.

IE favorites
Ffox bookmarks - Use the Organize Bookmarks, Backup option
My Document, w/ subfolders - My pitures, etc
Itunes may need special care; not an itunes user, so check further.
email - export your address book if you don't store email online, and if you have mail stored on your pc, you'll have to export it or lose it.

SDelete to wipe the deleted space sounds quite useful. Deleted files can be recovered, it's definitely an important consideration.
posted by theora55 at 1:57 PM on March 13, 2009

Copy the files you want/need to an external drive. Sorry, there's not good/easy way to make sure you keep all of the setting, etc. But you can save all of they data. Just make double sure you've got all of it before you...

Do a full overwrite format on the drive. One way is to copy this to a CD, boot to it, and run Darik's Boot and Nuke.

Then use your computers native install/disaster recovery disks.

These steps will make sure that a) you got what you need off your old computer. b) no one else can get any personal information off your old computer and c) Set the computer up to be just like new.
posted by Ookseer at 2:35 AM on March 14, 2009

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