Methods to Delete Everything on a Laptop
Summary: If you plan to dispose of an old laptop or give it to someone, you should read this post before doing so. Here, we will discuss the importance of secure file erasure and how it safeguards you against any misuse of your confidential and private data. We will also look at some methods to erase everything permanently on a laptop.
We think formatting the storage drive of our old laptops completely erases the data and prepares it for recycling or selling. However, formatting a storage drive only temporarily deletes the data in it. Anyone can easily recover this data using a standard data recovery tool and misuse it. Hence, secure data deletion becomes a critical step before you decide to sell or discard your old laptop.
Before moving on to the methods to securely erase everything on your laptop, you need to understand why and when we need to securely erase everything on our laptops.
Why is it Necessary to Delete Everything on a Laptop?
We store a lot of personal data like IDs, bank account details, account passwords, and more on our laptops. This data is prone to get compromised if the laptop is not erased securely. Hence, to protect ourselves from hackers and people with ill intentions, we need to permanently erase everything on our laptops.
A significant example of a data leak is related to a bunch of donated computers sent to Ghana, Africa for disposal. Reportedly, a group of journalism students were able to get their hands on a hard drive containing confidential US Defense data and accessed confidential U.S. Defense files on it
Therefore, to avoid such scenarios, it becomes necessary to erase files securely. Listed below are a few more reasons why you need to do this –
- To protect yourself from data theft
- To safeguard your identity
- To address various privacy concerns
- To avoid misuse of the data
When is it Required to Erase Everything on a Laptop?
There are numerous situations where it’s necessary to securely erase your data from your laptop. Listed below are some –
- Handing it over to a sibling or friend
Methods to Erase Everything on a Laptop
Now that you know how necessary secure file erasure is and why you should erase everything on an old laptop before parting ways with it, let’s look at some methods to delete data from a laptop permanently.
Pre activity –
As the methods discussed ahead will erase data and make it irrecoverable, you should take a complete backup of your data on an external storage drive before employing them.
- Once you have taken a backup of your data, the first thing you need to do is to sign out of all the apps and services that you use.
- Check web browsers for any plugins or websites on which you are logged in and sign out of them.
- Remember, some paid applications provide you with product keys. Note them down somewhere before signing out.
If you use your Microsoft account to sign into your laptop, you must log out of it and unlink the device. For the latter part, you will need to sign into your Microsoft account on another computer. Once inside, locate and click on the Devices tab and find the old laptop and remove it.
Once you are finished with the above tasks, proceed with the methods mentioned ahead to erase everything from your laptop.
Method 1: Perform Factory Reset
Once you are ready to completely erase your old laptop and reinstall Windows on it, perform the factory reset. Carefully follow the steps –
- Press WINDOWS + I to open Windows Settings.
- Click on Update & Security.
- Click on Recovery in the left pane.
- Go to the Reset this PC section and click on Get Started.
- You will see a Window with two options – Keep my files and Remove everything. Click on Remove everything.
- In the next window, it will ask you to select the method to re-install Window. Make your choice and proceed further.
- In the Additional settings window, click on Change settings to open the Choose settings window.
- Toggle the Delete files from all drives switch to Yes, all drives state.
- Click on Confirm.
- Click on Next.
- Carefully go through all the changes that will be made upon resetting the PC on the final screen.
- Click on Reset to begin with System Reset.
The process will take some time to clean the drives off the data, settings, and software and reinstall a fresh copy of Windows on the computer. After this, your computer will restart and you will see the Windows setup screen. Follow the instruction to set it up like a brand-new PC.
Once the system is reset, it will return to its factory-like state with no additional applications. All the user data will be removed along with the third-party applications.
Method 2: Use a File Eraser to Securely Erase Data
While a factory reset on your computer may remove all your files and data, there is still a slim possibility of the files being recovered by someone using a powerful file recovery software. To eliminate any chances of data recovery, you can use a file eraser.
BitRaser File Eraser is the best tool at your disposal that you can use to permanently erase your laptop and its contents securely.
This DIY file eraser allows users to erase traces of deleted files, app data, folders, and more. Thanks to its secure data deletion process and advanced data erasure algorithms, it permanently erases files and data beyond the scope of recovery.
Using this software, users can easily erase files from any storage device like HDDs, USB drives, SD Cards, Servers, and more.
This software fulfills all your file erasure needs like –
- Wiping internet activity like history, cookies, saved passwords, etc.
- Clearing off application traces like cache, conversations/IM chats, activity logs, etc.
- Permanently erasing deleted file traces beyond recovery
- Erasing system traces like temporary files
- Erase specific files
- Schedule regular file erasure tasks
To use this software for erasing files from your laptop –
- Purchase BitRaser File Eraser from its official website. Install it.
- Launch BitRaser File Eraser.
- Click on Erase Files & Folders in the left pane.
- Click on Add Items to add folders & files. You can add multiple folders and files to erase in one go.
- Click on Erase Now.
- A dialog box will appear, click on Proceed to move further.
Note – You can also schedule future file erasure tasks by clicking the Scheduler option in the left pane and setting up accordingly.
Bid Farewell to your Laptop and your Worries
As we look forward to disposing of our old laptops and storage drives, secure file erasure becomes the need of the hour. Deleting everything on a laptop is a crucial step to avoid any misuse of our data. In this post, we highlighted the importance of secured data erasure and the methods you can use to permanently erase everything on your laptop. Did we miss any method that you know? Let us know in the comments.