Laptops eventually either come to the end of their usable life or end up for sale as used computers. Whether you plan to recycle your Windows laptop or sell it to a new owner, you need to first remove all of your valuable personal information. You don't want prying eyes to have access to your sensitive data. Just reinstalling Windows doesn't go far enough in wiping your laptop. A more secure erasure requires running a downloaded application designed to completely wipe out your data.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
Back up any data and files you want to keep. This can be done by burning them to a CD or DVD, uploading files to an online storage service or transferring them to a USB flash drive.
Download a hard drive erasing application such as Darik's Boot And Nuke, KillDisk or a Secure Erase utility. These applications are available from several different developers. Some are available as freeware.
Extract the downloaded files if the utility comes in a zip file format with ".zip" at the end. Double-click on the file and click on "Extract all files" in the window that pops up. Click "Next" and choose a place to extract the files to.
Follow the instructions that come with the disk erase utility. Usually this involves creating a bootable CD, DVD or USB flash drive. A boot disk creator is included with some hard drive erasing utilities. This will help walk you through the steps for your particular application. You may need to download a bootable ISO image for your particular program and burn it to a CD as an image. Check your user guide for specifics.
Insert the bootable CD, DVD or USB flash drive and restart the computer. Follow the disk erase utility's instructions for wiping out your data. You may be asked to type a command phrase at the prompt to start the program in automatic mode. Wait for the program to wipe your laptop.
Tips and warnings
- Erasing your Windows laptop cannot be undone. Make sure that you have saved any files you want to keep.
- Wiping a laptop can also be handy if you want to completely reinstall an operating system.
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