There is a friend of a friend who needs a computer and since I have a spare laptop, I told him I would give it to him. The problem is that it has years of old personal data that I want erased.
Here are some of the steps I have taken.
The first step is to backup all your data onto an external hard drive. I used SyncToy for this task.
Delete User Accounts
Next, I signed into an Administrator account and chose to delete my Standard User account. It offered to save the files onto my desktop in a folder. You also need to make sure you are not signed into the account you are trying to delete.
I then did copy the folder it made onto an external hard drive – now I had two backup copies of my data.
Delete any Remaining Files and Data that still Remain
Delete Any Files in the Recycle Bin
Download and Install CCleaner Free
Wipe the Free Space
Under Tools, it will allow you to Wipe the Free Space. You get to choose how many passes it will make. This will take a long time, so just let it run over night. The expert Steve Gibson says that three passes is all you need.
Install and run Macrium Reflect
This will do an image backup of your clean system and will be available if necessary.
If the operating seems buggy and slow, you could also wipe your hard drive with Dban and then change it into a Chromebook.
I have a number of old programs that are still useful, but are on CDs. One way to keep them, but get rid of the CDs is to burn an Image ISO file.
I used the ImgBurn program to create the ISO. I got it from Ninite as I was concerned that getting it from other sources might install extra toolbars etc.
I chose the option to “Create Image file from disc.”
The next screen shows your Source, which should be your CD/DVD drive. Be careful – if you have previously mounted another ISO file, it might show up here.
Then look at your Destination which is where you want your ISO file be created.
Finally, click on the blue arrow to start the process.
Once you have your ISO files created, if you want to install the program from the ISO, what I found was that my regular Standard account would not work. I had to open up one of my Administrator accounts to install the program from the ISO file. Open the ISO file (double click in Windows 10) from File Explorer and it creates a DVD virtual drive. Then click on the AutoPlay or Setup.exe file to install.
To UnMount or remove the Virtual Drive, hi-lite in File Explorer and under the Manage tab, Manage Tab, you will have an option to Eject – that will remove the Virtual Drive.
TekThing had a recent tip on how to easily find, remove or change your Windows password. This would be helpful if a friends forgets their password. There are lots of ways to do this, but the one they suggested costs $18 and was easy to use. It didn’t work all the time, but they said it would probably work for older machines.
If you don’t have enough money for Adobe Premiere, then you might want to try out this free video editor. It’s called DaVinci Resolve and is available at
It’s available for both Mac and Windows.
Here’s a video on the basics of using it.
Below is Steve Gibson describing the process.
One of the ways that computers are getting hacked is that people are clicking on email attachments with malware installed. If they have File Extensions turned off, which is the default, then they may not see the .js or .exe extension. A file which displays as retirementinfo.docx may actually be retirementinfo.docx.exe. which might have malware embedded. What you want to do is unclick the “Hide extensions for known file types.”
Here’s a video for Windows 7
In Windows 10 do a Search for “hide file”and it will show you the link to make the change.
Here are details on using Macrium Reflect as a free drive backup. I used this to create a recovery usb drive and also an image of my Dell laptop.
The video below is excellent and provides most of the details.
To restore an image file, follow the instructions below.