Secure Erase Entire Hard Drive?

By moochieh ยท 15 replies
Dec 20, 2008
  1. I have a dell inspiron 8100 laptop that is absolutely loaded with spyware and things of that nature. It has not been used in over a year, but I feel like if I can erase the hard drive it could be back to working order. I should mention that the screen died about 3 years ago and I have been using a monitor (don't ask why it wasn't repaired then), and the main left-click button is not functioning. I did some research and it appears that Secure Erase is my best option. Since I haven't used the computer in over a year, there is nothing that is important on it and it would be great if I lost all data and started fresh. Can anyone tell me if Secure Erase is the way to go or recommend another option like to send it in for repair somewhere, how to run secure erase, and any other tips on how to make this work? Thank You!
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Just remove the Partition using your Windows CD or use the free gParted live boot CD

    Not having any Partition on the drive (other than a recovery partition (ie some have this)
    Then just install Windows clean (which will set up the partition automatically)
    ie No wiping required (or formatting for that matter)
  3. moochieh

    moochieh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 28

    Thanks for a quick response, what exactly is the Partition and which Windows CD are you talking about exactly? Sorry, are there any instructions?

    Something unrelated...
    I am running a Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware scan on my other computer to post in the spyware removal forum and it has gone for over 2 and a half hours and only got through 60,000 files. Nothing is infected yet and I'm doing this as a precautionary measure because there is nothing wrong with it, just a bit slow. Should it take this long?
  4. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Yes, sorry it's horribly slow sometimes
    Depends on how much is used (Programs\Data etc)
    And also what's running (ie if you hypothetically had a game running, or lots of background programs running, this can slow it down considerably

    Now a Partition...

    That's the thing that holds the filesystem ie NTFS
    Hmm, maybe don't worry, too hard to explain :D
  5. moochieh

    moochieh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 28

    I had nothing running and left my comp alone for the entire duration so I don't know. When posting logs would it be fine to do a quick scan log? I managed to finish one of those the other day...

    So basically find my windows XP CD and that will do everything I need? Thanks a lot for saving me a lot of trouble.
  6. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Yes if you use your Windows Xp CD to install clean (ie remove everything) you can select remove the partition when prompted (silly letters to press like "L" and so forth)

    But are you scanning (oh sorry I need full recent logs by the way)
    Or are you installing Windows clean?

    Now installing Windows on a non-partitioned harddrive (which is the best, well only way of doing this properly) is probably a lot more safer, and everything will run perfectly.
    Of course you then need to install Drivers; Service Packs; office; Adobe etc etc

    Anyway you decide
    Oh, and I'm logging off soon!
    That's right I'm human, not a robot after all :D (LOL)
  7. moochieh

    moochieh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 28

    haha yea, too bad you aren't a robot lol. Thanks for the help so far. I will need to look for all the necessary cds before attempting this. Hopefully I will be able to give it a shot tomorrow (I am EST time by the way). At this point though, it is like I forgot I even owned the laptop because no one had used in in such a long time so a completely fresh computer could be great for when I go back to school... or anything else :haha: I'll be posting any questions that may arise, Thanks again. One more thing, should I open another topic in the other forum with my logs for the other computer or just use this topic?
  8. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    This thread is "Secure Erase Entire Hard Drive?"
    I'd say answered ;)

    Yes post your logs on one computer (two I feel will just look bad. Most of the time you can cross reference too)
    This new thread must be in the Virus and Malware forum too.

    By the way go out and enjoy the sun :wave: :)
    That's your next required procedure!
  9. moochieh

    moochieh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 28

    Believe me, I enjoyed shoveling 6 inches of snow this morning... lol
  10. moochieh

    moochieh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 28

    I installed the new windows xp from the cd, but when I was trying to delete the Partition it would not let me and I had to install to the same partition. It ended up working fine, but now my computer still has all of the files stored on it and only like 3 GB left. What can I do?

    I also tried to install my belkin wireless network adapter, but it seemed to install fine until the found new hardware screen never showed up and It did not recognize the installation. This might be totally off topic so don't worry if you can't answer but at this point, I'm just considering sending the computer to a professional to fix.
  11. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    I ran my own computer tech shop for a number of years
    I have about 11 certificates (including University)
    And my experience ranges back to when computers didn't even exist in the home
    Oh and I'm highest post count member here

    Pretty sure I'm a professional ;)

    Download the free gParted partition tool
    Create the bootable gParted bootCD
    Boot from it
    Remove the stubborn partition
    Do not create a new Partition (at any stage, even in the Windows Setup)
    Do not format (at any stage, even in the Windows Setup)

    Put the Windows Setup CD in the drive
    And setup Windows
    Done :)
  12. moochieh

    moochieh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 28

    I just meant send it in to get everything fixed (ie the screen and mouse button) but I'll try that program asap...

    I am attempting to burn the cd now but don't really know what I'm doing. I let you know when I figure out if it works. Thanks.
  13. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

  14. moochieh

    moochieh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 28

    After trying to install from the XP CD, it has a screen that says I must format the partition using:
    NTFS file system (quick)
    FAT file system (quick)
    NTFS file system
    FAT file system

    You said not to format at all but it doesn't give me an option not to.

    I guess I'll just go with NTFS because it won't let me not select anything, if I really need to change it I can always run the installation again.
  15. moochieh

    moochieh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 28

    It seems everything is working just great now and I am in the process of downloading MS Office. I just really want to say thank you 1 more time to kimsland for the excellent advice. I also figured out that it is the actual belin device that is defected because the usb ports work, but the device never powers on. After I get that fixed I'll be able to connect to the internet and be off and running. Do you recommend any specific services to send the laptop to get the screen and mouse button looked at?
  16. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Thanks for the update :grinthumb

    Regarding what service to use, sorry don't know. I always quote manufacture (usually for warranty reasons) but this is also usually the most expensive (outside warranty)
    It's a matter of shopping around

    At that screen there should also be a prompt to remove the Partition (or use gparted advised above, to remove it)
    Anyway, all's well...
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