Cleaning a PC
July 7, 2005 10:39 PM   Subscribe

Looking for good ways to clean out a PC storage before donating. I have some old PCs that I would rather donate than trashing them. What are good procedures and tools to use to clean out disks? Should I leave the OS on ? There may be questionable and personal content lurking around that I would prefer to wipe out. etc. etc.
posted by flyby22 to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Darik's Boot and Nuke. Reinstall an OS afterwards if you feel like it, but if it's even a P II, you can probably find a taker without one.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:43 PM on July 7, 2005

For Mac users, there's iWipe. Before that, I used to overwrite by just stuffing a hard drive with random files. Rip a couple of DVDs, or download a ton of meaningless drivel. The old school method still works, and it's free.
posted by cribcage at 11:04 PM on July 7, 2005

If you do end up wiping the entire drive, I'd recommend reinstalling the OS before you donate the machines. Many charitable organizations have precious few (if any) resources to get a non-booting computer working again. The simpler you make it for them, the better.
posted by crumbly at 11:36 PM on July 7, 2005

Security risk ain't worth it. Boot from a Knoppix CD (if it's a PC) or a utility disk (Mac) and wipe that sucker until it shines. If you feel generous, reinstall an OS from scratch. If not, someone will still use the machine, so you will have accomplished the main goal of not throwing it away.

Even -- especially -- if you do throw the machines away, either remove and destroy the hard drive(s), or wipe them first. As a recovering scavenger, I can't begin to tell you what kind of stuff I have found on trashed computers I have grabbed for parts. Were I the evil type, I'd either be a rich blackmailer or have about 20 spare identities. People are insanely stupid about this.
posted by realcountrymusic at 5:27 AM on July 8, 2005

We use autoclave to wipe disks. In finding the link, I see that the author now recommends Darik's Boot and Nuke. We also use eraser to purge deleted/unused space when we're moving a pc to a new user, as opposed to rebuilding/recycling it.

If the drive won't start up for wiping, we open it and destroy the platters, which is sort of fun.

When we recycle pcs for sale or donation, we install Open Office, adobe reader, AVG free antivirus, Spybot, Firefox, JustZipIt. It's not easy to find takers for donated older equipment.
posted by theora55 at 9:12 AM on July 8, 2005

Another vote for DBAN here; we use it when disposing of machines at work (or giving them to the employees instead of trashing them).
posted by mrbill at 9:15 AM on July 8, 2005

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