Remove all sensitive data from Windows with and without the need to install other programs
Whether your computer is for personal use, study, gaming or work, it doesn’t matter: before changing it and putting it in someone else’s hands it’s good to take several precautions.
Over time the information that goes to accumulate within a computer is really many and of any origin and content.
In addition to simple files such as multimedia content or sensitive documents, there are several other elements that can be a risk to privacy and security:
- access to social networks and emails;
- current account data;
- home address;
- various account accesses (e-commerce, streaming…).
You should therefore be very careful before confirming that you have done everything necessary to delete this information.
And if you think that moving them to the simple trash can and then pressing Empty is enough, you will need some more information to protect yourself.
1. The timeless backup
As with changing Smartphone, the first action to take before moving on to delete data is backup.
This step allows you to make a copy of any type of data on your laptop, saving it on an external device. Before the need for backup, there are different choices you can make:
- Physical backup: in this case you use an external device on which to make a copy of the files, the most common are hard drive media, but no one prevents you to do it on a key, PC or smartphone, depending on the content and quantity
- Virtual backup: It’s true, they’re both virtual, but this one is more virtual than the first one. Here the way is for the technology that is gaining ground day after day, namely the cloud; whether it’s Google, Amazon, Microsoft, the computer manufacturer or anything else depends on your needs and what you’re looking for.
For a properly done backup, the advice is not to manually copy the information you want to save. You could risk to leave something important, which will be lost forever.
Instead, go to your laptop’s backup setting, ready to copy every single byte.
2. Software and access codes
For most programs this problem does not exist; once you have the new PC in your hands, just download it again:
- if free, no limitation in general;
- if paid, you will be asked to log in to the site.
However, there are cases where an additional step is required, namely the insertion of an access code (or key), which is unique and private.
Therefore, knowing if you have any programs with such a code and, if so, trace it back to this. Otherwise, you will no longer be able to access the new device. Or rather, you will be asked to pay again.
An excellent program with a free version to check what is installed is Belarc Advisor.
3. Delete all
At this point you are ready to get rid of any form of data on your PC, thus bringing it back in time to the factory settings.
As with smartphones, you must take the right precautions not to risk leaving traces of data on your PC. It will not therefore be enough to move the files in the trash and empty it or get a cleaning software.
The road to total elimination is at the heart of the operating system.
Microsoft is committed to facilitating the deletion process for users, given the widespread custom of reselling the used device.
The shortest way is to open Windows Start and type in the Reset search bar. Clicking on the result will open a Reset page within the Settings.
Here you have two possibilities:
- in the first point you will delete some or all of the data (at the choice of the user) and Windows will be reinstalled automatically;
- the second is the most advanced case, where the user can decide how and from where to reinstall the operating system, and even change it in the case, always accompanied by the deletion of files.
For those who do not intend to make changes to the operating system, the recommended choice is obviously the first.
Clicking on Start will open a window with two choices:
- keep your files;
- delete all.
If the intention is to resell/throw away the device, the second option is the one for you. If you are looking for a way to speed up your pc, you can consider the first one, with a not thorough cleaning and without losing files and multimedia.
And then proceed.
The PC will have to be 100% charged or, better, connected to the power supply, as the process can take a long time and with an intense consumption of energy.
Windows settings are not the only way to get rid of digital.
There are dozens of programs, both free and paid, to provide total hard drive cleanup.
One of the most famous is certainly DBAN, specialized for years in (almost) every type of device and format. Depending on which program you want to use, you have to consider that some of them will be so aggressive as to wipe out Windows itself.
You must therefore be equipped with the operating system installation DVD or an Image Backup on a key or hard drive. Otherwise the result will be an empty shell!
A real guarantee of no longer having your own tracks on that device is not so obvious; indeed, those who work in the field know well that it is very difficult to fade everything that has been saved over time.
That’s why one of the safest methods is to physically destroy the device, and even this will have to be done according to some specific rules.
In short, as easy as it is uncertain. What we do know, however, is that the service offered by iRecovery is what offers the full guarantee, thanks to a team of experts and elimination techniques that work directly on the machine, as well as the software.
Because the risks of seeing sensitive data fall into the hands of others can be fatal.