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Getting rid of laptop safely

(12 Posts)
TitchyWitch Wed 01-Dec-10 16:37:39

I have an old laptop that died a while ago (I get lots of tiny duplicate screens when I turn it on and can't do anything with it). At the moment it is cluttering up the corner of the living room as I am scared to just chuck it out as have been the victim of identity theft before and it was a nightmare. What is the safest way to make sure nothing is left on it for bad people to find?

Thank you

BadgersPaws Wed 01-Dec-10 17:17:49

The safest way is to remove the hard disk, take the disk to bits to get the actual platters out and them smash them to tiny pieces with a large hammer.

But that is a bit OTT and there are ways which while not quite as secure are plenty good enough and would let you sell the lap top.

Do you have a Mac or a Windows laptop?

To be honest though if you're not going to sell it then do the disk smash thing, it's quite therapeutic

NetworkGuy Wed 01-Dec-10 21:05:49

A fairly simple way to ensure little or nothing is left is to download a copy of Ubuntu (it is a version of Linux, a different operating system to the popular ones like Windows and OS X on Macs).

You would need to "burn" a CD from some existing (working) machine, insert it into your old dead laptop, and with pretty minimal effort can get it to run from the CD.

One of the options is to use the partition editor, so you could use that to delete what was on the drive (NB that means it cannot easily be read by Windows, but still may have data that could be peeked at) and then let Ubuntu install on the hard drive, so it would write hundreds or thousands of new files over the drive ensuring the old directory information was pretty much destroyed by new data, or in such a state of confusion that a Windows PC could no longer get useful info off it.

If Ubuntu installs OK (it needs at least 256 KB of RAM, I think) then you have a working laptop that could be used for browsing, and possibly much more, so it is less likely to be destined to the dump (can keep in reserve in case your current machine has some problem).

CruelAndUnusualParenting Wed 01-Dec-10 21:36:55

Instead of Ubuntu I would suggest ultimatebootcd. Boot ultimatebootcd, Use the menus to select Hard Disk Tools, then Wiping Tools, then Darik's Boot and Nuke. Enter autonuke and it will clean the disk out so thoroughly only a CIA lab could get any old information off it.

NetworkGuy Wed 01-Dec-10 21:54:38

Definitely sounds simpler and Wiping Tooks sounds ideal for this task... When I wrote simple, I had perhaps underestimated how geeky the user needs to be for switching a system to Ubuntu (and after all, not all machines will boot direct from CD), though that's going to be common to the suggestion from CAUP too.

I plan to download the UltimateBootCD after midnight, as I can then test it on a dozen PCs in the garage which need wiping... though do not plan to erase them tonight, it is pretty chilly outside and was snowing earlier...

BeenBeta Wed 01-Dec-10 21:59:52

You dont need to take the hard drive out and faff about dismantling it. Just locate it inside the laptop then hammer a screw driver or chisel through the casing of the hard drive a dozen times until the internal platters are fragments.

TitchyWitch Thu 02-Dec-10 09:55:03

Thanks for the replies. I'll have to see if I can manage a techy solution but if not I'll have fun with a hammer!

CruelAndUnusualParenting Thu 02-Dec-10 12:50:57

NetworkGuy, if you're going to download Ubuntu you might as well use the right tool and run shred on the disk.

NetworkGuy Thu 02-Dec-10 19:24:02

Not sure how much clearer I needed to write it but I fully acknowledged it was a better option not to go with Ubuntu...

CruelAndUnusualParenting Thu 02-Dec-10 20:47:32

Sorry NetworkGuy, I guess I phrased that quite poorly.

I was pointing out, mainly for interest, rather than as a suggestion for your immediate use, that should you in future wish to do some secure wiping using Ubuntu, or other Linux distributions, there is a specific tool provided for that purpose.

NetworkGuy Fri 03-Dec-10 07:17:06

It was not an intention to suggest Ubuntu primarily for 'security wiping' but merely a side-effect of using Ubuntu (and at the same time, would have a chance of making the laptop usable once more - switching it from some corrupted version of Windows, perhaps, to a fresh install of something different, which IME can cope with wi-fi and is quite fast and flexible, so useful as a web browser even if it might not represent something on which to do work from the office).

MrsSnaplegs Fri 03-Dec-10 07:35:37

Try looking on freecycle depending on where you live there are some people who advertise for old laptops which they recycle for special groups charities etc. Once it's wiped they may be able to use it. I know there was a chap in Watford who definitely does this but don't know where you are based.

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