Wipe your Computer Hard Drive Data: Disk Cleanup, Deleting Applications, Backing Up Files and Formatting
Before you toss out an old hard drive or sell your old computer you will need to wipe your hard drive. Wiping your hard drive involves cleaning out or deleting personal files and applications. Simply deleting files by sending them to the Recycle Bin does not actually remove them from your computer. In fact, even files that have been purged from the Recycle Bin will remain on your computer until they are overwritten. Wiping your hard drive will make sure that every unneeded and deleted file is permanently erased.
The Disk Cleanup Utility
Windows XP offers a Disk Cleanup tool that can be used to delete unnecessary files. The Disk Cleanup utility can be found under the “System Tools” submenu in the Windows Start menu Accessories submenu. Once activate, the disk cleanup tool will calculate how much space will be freed up by deleting the unnecessary files. Then you will be allowed to review the files selected for deletion before continuing. After you complete a disk cleanup you will need to run a disk wiping tool to ensure that the files are permanently erased.
Before your wipe your hard drive you will need to back up any important information that that needs to be saved to a new hard drive or compact disk. Any files or data removed during the wiping process will not be available for retrieval.
The Disk Wiper Tool
Once your files have been backed up you will need a disk wiping tool. Many hard drive wipers, cleaners or shredders can be downloaded at no cost. Visit Downloads to search for these programs that are designed to wipe your hard drive. Once you have downloaded a disk wiping program, install it on your computer. Each program will have a unique graphical user interface (GUI) and directions for use. Follow the directions for your selected disk wiping tool and run the program to wipe your hard drive. The program will make sure that all files and data have been completely erased by overwriting the entries multiple times.
The Formating Alternative
Another way to ensure that your hard drive is clean is to format the drive. Formatting will remove all applications, files, data and the operating system. Formatting is an easy way to clean or wipe your hard drive. But, you must be aware that the hard drive will not be usable until a new operating system has been installed.
Now that your hard drive has been wiped you can sell or donate your old computer or you can remove the hard drive if upgrading your computer and install the new one.