Spring cleaning

Everyone has most likely dealt with the dilemma of selling or disposing of a laptop, external hard disk or desktop PC. The average consumer does not realize when you delete a file it is essentially moved to the back of your disk memory. Meaning, if you never use every single byte of space on your drive, you may never overwrite those deleted files, which leaves them easily recoverable by anyone. In addition, formatting your hard drive the old fashioned way is and never was a secure method. Thankfully, with the help of hackers and offshoot programmers we have the tools to put our minds at ease. One of these diamonds, which I have used exclusively for ‘renewing’ hard drives, is Darik’s Boot and Nuke, also called DBAN.

“DBAN is a means of ensuring due diligence in computer recycling, a way of preventing identity theft if you want to sell a computer, and a good way to totally clean a Microsoft Windows installation of viruses and spyware. DBAN prevents or thoroughly hinders all known techniques of hard disk forensic analysis.”

To use DBAN you will first need to download the file from www.dban.org, then burn it to a blank CD-R disk. After you have it on disk, you will need to reboot the PC using the CD-R as your boot disk. Follow the onscreen instructions. You will have the option to perform quick disk wiping in increments from quick delete to DOD/NSA spec. Depending on the size of the drive and the wipe you choose, the operation could take quite a bit of time to complete. When all is said and done, the process is fairly simple and restores peace of mind when disposing or just cleaning your hardware.

*Important note: DBAN ‘permenantly’ wipes everything from the target drive, so you better have an OEM restore disk or OS to reinstall on the clean PC once operations are complete.

UPDATE 2010-08-13

If you do not want to wipe your entire hard drive, but still need to clean the free space and temp files, I suggest Evidence Eliminator. EE will clean your files and free space to NSA/DOD specs and has tons of options. If you do not want to shell out the dough, you can always download CCleaner. CCleaner will not wipe all of the free space on your dirve, but you can set it for multiple pass deletion of individual files and directories. ~TheHiTechPI

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