Cleaning/Erasing old computers to give away?

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Whelan, Dec 15, 2003.

  1. Whelan

    Whelan Guest

    We recently purchased new computers for our office and we'd like to clean
    and sanitize the two old Dells (P-II, 266 and 300) to give to employees
    whose families don't have one. Also, I work at an impoverished elementary
    school and want to give two old home computers to students too.

    Should I go the thorough method and reformat the hard drive, then re-install
    Win 98se, Microsoft Office, etc rather than just erase the excess programs
    and defrag?

    I did reformat 2 computers 1½ years ago, but don't exactly remember how.
    I found this article today,
    and it sounds a bit intimidating.

    I bet there are a lot of people with old computers to give away; I could
    probably round up 5-10 more at my school.
    I'd like to get two ready this week so they can be used for Christmas gifts.

    Does anyone know of simpler instructions or have advice?
    Whelan, Dec 15, 2003
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  2. Whelan

    Tom McCune Guest

    Be aware that reformatting a hard drive does not actually remove data
    from it. If you have sensitive information that you want overwritten,
    use a utility such as the free Eraser
    Eraser also has a component for wiping (overwriting) all hard drive data
    from a floppy boot. You might find this article informative:
    Tom McCune, Dec 15, 2003
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  3. the process is arduous and time consuming when done from scratch, but some
    model dells have a factory software 'image' embedded on the drive. on those
    systems you simply boot to a dos prompt and type 'zztop' and the system
    restores itself to the original factory fresh condition (destroying existing
    data on the system). once done a simple wipe program can be run to ensure
    erasure of remnants of data stored from parts of the hard marked as
    'unused' (but had once been used). bcwipe an easy utility that has a free 30
    day trial to do just this. it is available from alternatively,
    you could just remove the hard disk from the computer and physically destroy
    it and donate the rest of the system for someone else to rebuild (software
    wise) with a new hard disk.

    if you want install instructions to rebuild from scratch then tell us what
    operating system you want to reinstall... and what model computer that you
    want to do it on...
    Christopher Muto, Dec 15, 2003
  4. Mark A. Stewart, Dec 15, 2003
  5. Whelan

    Dawn Killick Guest

    Tom got it right with Eraser......the boot floppy utility he refers to that
    is bundled with Eraser is called DBAN.
    Dawn Killick, Dec 15, 2003
  6. Whelan

    BT Guest

    Not sure if you care, but there may be some licensing problems with good ol'
    Microsoft in the "redistribution" of their software. Depends of course on how
    your office obtained the software licenses in the first place and whether or not
    you care about what Microsoft has to say about stuff like that.

    BT, Dec 16, 2003
  7. Whelan

    the yeti Guest

    This message is Opinion. There are no facts here, just some

    Identity theft is the "shark attacks" of the 21 centuary. Odds are
    that any data that might be on that drive is no big deal. The amount
    of time, effort, and money required to pull usable information from a
    hard drive that has been formatted makes trying to read you old emails
    seem pretty pointless. I can see the need for "data destruction" if
    these were buisness computers with hundreds of clients personal
    information on it.

    You stated that you wish to give these to impoverished families that
    dont have computers. If they don't have computers now, they most
    likely lack the technical knowldge to play solitare, much less scour
    your old drive for erased data.

    I think you will be fine if you just reinstall Windows. Pop in the
    Win98 boot floppy, choose the "start computer with CD-ROM support"
    option. When you get an A: prompt type "format C:" then when its
    done, just type setup and install Windows.

    The other thing is you are talking about doing 3 or more of these
    computers. That takes time. Save some time, instead of totally
    cleaning the drive, add some useful software such as Windows Updates,
    IE6, Adaware, a good pop-up blocker, etc...
    the yeti, Dec 16, 2003
  8. Whelan

    Whelan Guest

    Thanks to all of you for the suggestions.
    The Dell image idea sounds like an easy solution, but I don't think it will
    work this time.

    When we bought these from Dell in 6/98, they came with Win 95. These were my
    husband's office computers until 2 weeks ago. They both ran "Computer Age
    Dentist" practice mgmt software and one ran Quickbooks.

    The one I want to get ready FIRST (and give to one of his employees by next
    Monday) is a Dimension PII/266. Its hard drive died and was replaced in
    Summer 2002. The person who replaced it then installed WinMe on it -- I
    don't know why.

    I want to put Win 98se on it now; I think that would be better than Me.
    (It's what I use at work; I run the computer lab in a K-6 school with 28
    workstations.) Then I will reinstall the MS Office 97 that came on it, plus
    some Educ programs (I bought everything avail in the mid-90s and know some
    very good shareware) and some useful utilities. The employee we are giving
    this to has a daughter 13 and sons 8 & 9. They have never owned a computer,
    but she is clever so I want to be sure the Quickbooks can't be found.

    * If reformatting and switching the OS from Me to 98 (only this one computer
    has Me), should I make/use a 98 or Me bootdisk?

    * The Eraser, PCInspector, BCWipe programs, ... are these things you would
    do INSTEAD OF reformatting C, before, or just additional precautions after

    * So, this first one was a small bus computer with financial info and it
    will go to someone inexperienced but smart.

    Re the other computers, which I'll probably postpone till January, the
    Yeti's assumption about the school families is correct. The students are all
    below grade level and 90% of the parents don't speak English (or play
    solitaire). They'll mainly play games, use word processing, internet,
    keyboarding, ... and hopefully build skills for future success.

    PS: I don't know their model # but they were Dimensions, PII, one 266 one
    300, purchased June 1998. I have service tag #s but that prob doesn't matter
    at this date. Then the next two I'll work on are not Dells, but built by a
    former local shop and a computer show regular -- both started out with Win
    95c then upgraded to 98se.
    Whelan, Dec 16, 2003
  9. Whelan

    the yeti Guest

    Thoes programs are additional things that you do along with format.
    You still have to format the drive. Win98SE is way better than WinME,
    stick with that. I understand your buisness need to erase your drive,
    but I am telling you that you can format it with no need for a "data
    destruction" program. As a PC tech and from IRC Chat rooms I can't
    tell you how many times I've heard "I erased an important
    song/picture/document and I cant get it back" And thats from inside a
    running Windows OS. After you format the drive, your quick books
    will be gone and no one will be able to access it with out special
    tools, and hours to spend reconstructing data. It requires a second
    high powered computer to pull the info off that drive once you type
    "a:\format c:" Just use a Win98 boot floppy, if you need one get it

    As for Microsoft Licensing, well, I think you can look the other way
    on that. If you are really worried about staying "honest" go with
    Linux. Instead of MS Office 97 though you might conside Open Office.
    In many ways it is similar to MS Office, it can read and write DOC and
    XLS files, is a smaller program size than Office, and is faster and
    more secure than Office 97
    the yeti, Dec 16, 2003
  10. Whelan

    Whelan Guest

    Thanks, Yeti.
    That's the encouragement I need to proceed.
    I'll download the bootdisk now and go for it today or tonight!
    Whelan, Dec 16, 2003
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