Preparing my computer to donate

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awcuevas
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Preparing my computer to donate

Post by awcuevas »

Hello, I am familiar with installing Linux Mint on computers. I just want to know, if I want to donate my computer to charity, will reinstalling Linux Mint clean my hard drive completely and make it safe to donate to strangers? There could be sensitive information like bank information or other financial stuff hidden in areas on my hard drive or my Firefox web searches. I want to completely sanitize my computer and make it ready to donate.

Thank you!

:D

gm10
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by gm10 »

No, reinstalling doesn't wipe anything, at most it overwrites some data with the new system. Basically what you want to do is boot into a live environment (i.e. boot from the installation USB/DVD) and overwrite the whole disk with zeroes or random data, maybe even several times, depending on how sensitive the data is and how much effort you expect anybody to invest into recovering it.

Have a read here, it's a good overview.
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Securely_wipe_disk

DAMIEN1307
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by DAMIEN1307 »

hi awcuevas and hi gm10...dont try this unless gm10 agrees that this should work ok to wipe the entire hardrive clean...i believe all three scripts work but to what degree and how extensive they erase something or everything i do not know since i havent had to use it myself as of yet...after the drive is totally erased, then one can reinstall mint once again...DAMIEN

Code: Select all

sudo dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda 

Code: Select all

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda 

Code: Select all

sudo shred /dev/sda
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gm10
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by gm10 »

Please don't always defer to me like that, it feels a bit awkward to be honest. I haven't see you give bad advice, you don't need my approval!

And all of those examples good. I'd probably go with the latter (automated multiple passes with some feedback for the user).

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SuperBoby
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by SuperBoby »

I would add to be VERY careful when typing the command and triple-check if you chose the right disk to erase !
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jimallyn
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by jimallyn »

I use DBAN (Darik's Boot And Nuke) to wipe hard drives:

https://dban.org/

You will recover NOTHING off a hard drive that has been wiped with DBAN.
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Mute Ant
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by Mute Ant »

None of these methods guarantee erasure because there's no way for Linux to control exactly what the drive does with the data you write. The dd and shred commands are extra-useless on silicon stores, which by design make data duplicates...
o Copy goes into the drive's RAM.
o Copy goes from RAM into fast-and-robust EEPROM.
o Copy goes from fast-and-robust EEPROM into slow-and-fragile EEPROM.
o Replaced data block is marked 'unallocated' but the replaced data is left intact.

The proper method is to use the ATA Secure Erase command, although you are still trusting the manufacturer's hidden firmware to do the job. If that's not good enough, and for financial, medical or military data it might not be, you have to destroy the drive. Melt the disk. Burn the chips.

### Lock the drive with a password. It becomes unreadable and unbootable after you do this.
sudo hdparm --security-set-pass FOXYSOX /dev/sdX

### Start the ATA Secure Erase process. When the command exits, the stored data and the password you set are gone. The drive is factory-fresh empty and read-write again. For a magnetic drive this command works at around 128MB per second. SSD can be much faster than that.
sudo hdparm --security-erase FOXYSOX /dev/sdX

WARNING If you want to experiment with the hdparm command, do it on a drive you can afford to discard.
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Pierre
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by Pierre »

Just how particular are you, with giving that machine away ?

it's just that IMHO - - by using the Linux Live Media to:
1/ erase the partition(s) with Gparted
2/ create 2 -3 partitions for a New Installation
2a/ just use the installer to create those partitions, during the New Installation
3/ install the New System onto that erased drive ..

as, again, IMHO - any reversal of this method - is well beyond the Page Grade of the Average Computer User.

And - - it's Just Plain Easier to do.
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by jglen490 »

DBAN is a great utility, it's free, and it does a very high grade over write at a very low level on the targeted hard drive. The only safer method is to take a sledge hammer to the drive, mix the pieces in with concrete, and dump the hardened result into the deepest part of the ocean.
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lsemmens
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by lsemmens »

It all depends upon how paranoid you are. If you are giving the machine away, I'd suggest that the person to whom the computer is given is unlikely to be looking for any sensitive data that they can use to their advantage. Anyone who is capable of, and desirous of using any sensitive data, is unlikely to even be considering an old, second hand, computer donated to a charity.
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ralplpcr
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by ralplpcr »

lsemmens wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:04 am
...Anyone who is capable of, and desirous of using any sensitive data, is unlikely to even be considering an old, second hand, computer donated to a charity.
Seconded. And let me add that unless you happen to be a well-known millionaire, member of some upper-level government/military, or in possession of national secrets, the likelihood of someone taking the time to really dig into a drive that has been reformatted to discover your information is fairly slim.

If you're truly in need of making sure your personal data is removed, swap in a new drive and destroy the old one. Otherwise, erasure of the partition table, reformatting, and re-installation of the OS should be quite adequate to prevent the majority of people from finding anything.

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SuperBoby
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by SuperBoby »

jglen490 wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 7:50 am
DBAN is a great utility, it's free, and it does a very high grade over write at a very low level on the targeted hard drive. The only safer method is to take a sledge hammer to the drive, mix the pieces in with concrete, and dump the hardened result into the deepest part of the ocean.
Please don't :(
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jglen490
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by jglen490 »

I think the OP is wise to consider options, and the implications of doing nothing.

Again, DBAN is great, but so is

Code: Select all

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sd<target drive> bs=1MB
It just takes several hours, but you don't have to babysit the machine while its happening.

Or, sledge hammer, concrete, ocean.
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AZgl1500
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by AZgl1500 »

I retired from a government organization.

they have a rule on computers.
Remove the HDD and destroy it with a hammer.

then donate the computer without a HDD....
violations to this rule results in termination of your employment contract.
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DAMIEN1307
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by DAMIEN1307 »

I inherited 14 lenovo desktop computers from the "luftwaffe" before they left their training site here...they did a "dban" of their systems before handing them over for me to re-purpose them for youth here...i was still able to recover their "stuff" even after "dban"...i called them to tell them...they asked if i knew anything better...i said yes,

Code: Select all

sudo shred /dev/sda
once i had linux already installed in order to be able to run this command in the terminal...i did so...info was no longer able to be recovered...then simply re-installed Linux OS...happy ending for all involved...DAMIEN
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AZgl1500
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by AZgl1500 »

DAMIEN1307 wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:28 pm
I inherited 14 lenovo desktop computers from the "luftwaffe" before they left their training site here...they did a "dban" of their systems before handing them over for me to re-purpose them for youth here...i was still able to recover their "stuff" even after "dban"...i called them to tell them...they asked if i knew anything better...i said yes,

Code: Select all

sudo shred /dev/sda
once i had linux already installed in order to be able to run this command in the terminal...i did so...info was no longer able to be recovered...then simply re-installed Linux OS...happy ending for all involved...DAMIEN
that is good to know, will make that a note in my books.
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DAMIEN1307
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by DAMIEN1307 »

Should be noted, they were still running Windows Vista OS on their systems...DAMIEN

EDIT...that was only 16 months ago when they turned them over to me...They were still on Vista?
ORDO AB CHAO

jglen490
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by jglen490 »

AZgl1500 wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:14 pm
I retired from a government organization.

they have a rule on computers.
Remove the HDD and destroy it with a hammer.

then donate the computer without a HDD....
violations to this rule results in termination of your employment contract.
Depends on who owns the computer ...
I feel more like I do than I did when I got here.
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jglen490
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by jglen490 »

AZgl1500 wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:30 pm
DAMIEN1307 wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:28 pm
I inherited 14 lenovo desktop computers from the "luftwaffe" before they left their training site here...they did a "dban" of their systems before handing them over for me to re-purpose them for youth here...i was still able to recover their "stuff" even after "dban"...i called them to tell them...they asked if i knew anything better...i said yes,

Code: Select all

sudo shred /dev/sda
once i had linux already installed in order to be able to run this command in the terminal...i did so...info was no longer able to be recovered...then simply re-installed Linux OS...happy ending for all involved...DAMIEN
that is good to know, will make that a note in my books.
Given enough resources, and given the attention to removing data - it's always possible to recover some residual data. Eventually all the magnetic domains are over-written. Or hammer, concrete, ocean.
I feel more like I do than I did when I got here.
Toshiba A135-S2386, Intel T2080, ATI Radeon® Xpress 200M Chipset, 2GB RAM, 500GB

DAMIEN1307
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Re: Preparing my computer to donate

Post by DAMIEN1307 »

i didnt recover residual...i recovered all, requiring commanding luftwaffe officer to come to my residence to see what i had got...that was after their dban...they are now implementing what i do to eradicate their hard drives...DAMIEN
ORDO AB CHAO

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