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How do you really "clean" your computer to prevent prying eyes????

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by widmn, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. widmn


    Jun 7, 2000
    PA usa
    If you want to hide stuff from "agencies, not that I do. Just curious. What is the best way to clean your computer and hard drive?? Reformat? You hear about "them" being able to get stuff that.s been erased. Is that really true? How do they do that? Inquiring minds want to know.
    Or do you just burn it??
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  2. If you're trying to hide stuff while the computer is in use, not sure there's a reliable way of doing real-time sanitation. If you're getting rid of a system and need to clean the hard drive for reuse/resale, then any decent software package that uses the DOD approved 7 pass wipe should suffice for most things.

    That is a minimum, 7 pass wipe, that will nuke a hard drive enough to allow a previously SECRET classified drive to be used in an unclassified system.

    There are other drive wipes that use a 35 pass wipe if you're really paranoid.

    To be absolutely sure, 100% guaranteed that the hard drive can't be put back together again and put under a scanning electron microscope, have it crushed at a certified data destruction facility.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011

  3. kc8ykd


    Oct 6, 2005
    what did you do?

    and when will you be appearing on the news, i wanna dvr it
  4. wrenrj1


    May 22, 2002
    My hard drive will be used once by me. Never to have a second life with another owner.
    The rest will be available for those who want it.
  5. ZombieTom


    Dec 25, 2009
    Remember way back when you use to record shows with a blank VHS tape. Then one day you would record over that show with something else? But you could still see a fuzzy shadow of what you had on there before? Thats like a hard drive. Theres always something left behind.

    Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk
  6. widmn


    Jun 7, 2000
    PA usa
    Wow!!! I had no idea. I guess if I ever need to hide something, I will burn it and crush it. Unbelievable what folks can do nowadays.
  7. Linux3


    Dec 31, 2008
    Do you want to hide stuff on a working computer?
    If you are running Linux it's pretty easy if you have more than one drive or more then one partition on a drive.

    I have a second drive with one partition mounted as /Data. Yes, unlike Windows you can mount a drive, partition actually, as anything you like.

    OK, so if you
    cd / <enter>
    ls -al <enter>

    You will see that /Data is actually a directory under root '/'.

    If I unmount /Data
    sudo umount /Data <enter>

    The directory is still there.
    Copy files to the directory /Data then remount the partition.
    mount -a <enter>

    OK, you can't see the files in the directory /Data because if you cd to it all you see is the contents of the second disk partition.

    You would have to compare the size of the partition and all the files in it to find out that something is wrong.

    A not uncommon Unix Admin trick.
  8. Ogreon

    Ogreon unlisted

    Oct 3, 2006
    If by "agency" you mean "wife" then the easiest method is simply to stop letting her out of the basement. Or you could encrypt everything.

    If by "agency" you mean "FBI" then you can encrypt everything and hope they can't break it.

    If by "agency" you mean "totalitarian regime" then you can encrypt everything and hope they don't simply torture it out of you.

    If by "agency" you mean "Ogreon" then I already know everything but will torture you anyway so you have no hope.
  9. StarvinMarvin


    Feb 28, 2008
    If you are talking about cleaning a HD.. as in no letting anyone see what was once on it, use

    If you mean keeping things invisible to other users, I'd need more specifics.. you want to keep browsing history secret?, keep certain folders and files encrypted? what are you asking :dunno:
  10. HerrGlock

    HerrGlock Scouts Out CLM

    Dec 28, 2000
    Take your data off and put it on a thumbdrive or an external hard drive.
    Reformat your hard drive.
    Reinstall WIN and make sure to say yes to "Do you want to encrypt this disk?"
    Use AES 1024 bit encryption or higher.
    put your data back onto your computer.
    Always, ALWAYS turn off your computer when you walk away from it for any length of time.
    Put the thumb drive in your oven next time you use the self-cleaning feature of the oven.
  11. wct097


    Jan 11, 2000
    I understand that the basic design of SSDs changes this discussion substantially. The 'wear leveling' features, if I understand correctly, basically overwrite things on their own.
  12. gemeinschaft

    gemeinschaft AKA Fluffy316

    Feb 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Thermite seems to work well.
  13. GAFinch


    Feb 23, 2009
    If whole disk encryption slows down your computer too much, create a separate partition or, better yet, a disk image to put all your downloads on, then encrypt it. If you need to quickly "clean" your computer, you can erase just your separate partition or disk image, encrypted or not, with the 7 pass zeroing method. This way, you don't waste time trying to prevent from accidentally deleting your system and non-sensitive files, or waste time erasing all the free space on a 2 TB hard drive every time.
  14. Pierre!

    Pierre! NRA Life Member

    Jun 20, 2003
    Lovin Sparks Nv!
    True Crypt works pretty well.

    Just don't lose the password... Don't ask how I know...
  15. UtahIrishman

    UtahIrishman BLR Silver Member

    Nov 11, 2001
    I've used TrueCrypt also, albeit not on the whole hard drive.

    However I've found I can fit most 'sensitive' information on an encrypted thumb drive and then read it to only my computer's RAM. I think that's a better choice. I use passwords generated at to protect the thumb drive.

    You can get as paranoid as you want with encrypted thumb drives. You could daisy chain encryption and passwords across as many thumb drives as you felt capable of keeping track of.

    Also thumb drives are much more interesting targets to hit at the range than a hard drive if you ever feel the need to seriously 'clean up' :supergrin:
  16. Kith


    Jan 18, 2010
    Yep. Kill it with fire, the only way to be sure. Anything else is taking your chances.

    My favorite :supergrin:

    The encryption method will work great against probably 90% of whoever you are worried about finding your data. The other 10% require the extreme measure of vaporizing the hardware.
  17. filthy infidel

    filthy infidel 100% Infidel

    Apr 24, 2007
    North Carolina
    Truecrypt works. Some of you guys need to loosen the tinfoil, seriously.

    Bank of America's standard HDD destruction is six 1/2" holes drilled through the drive.
  18. LOL, I'm an RN and I keep a lot of HIPAA data on my work laptop, but I also use a program called Kremlin, that allows me to right click on any file and encrypt/decrypt it using my choice of algorithms, it also gives me the choice to securely delete any file or document using a DoD shredder, with overwrite from 1 to 99 times.
  19. Hi Solomansousana, there are a number of shredding programs available, PGP, Dban, and plenty of others. I was talking about a real-time, on the fly, program to sanitize a hard drive in the background.

    Encryption is a whole different animal. I've used several different whole disk encryption programs, BitLocker, PGP (now Symantec) Whole disk encryption, etc.

    I have extensive personal experience with PGP WDE and other than the boot screen coming up prior to the operating system starting, I didn't find that it slowed my machine at all.