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I have a Dell Precision 390 with Windows XP Professional that I need to complete wipe clean and return to factory settings - but don't have the install CDs. The computer may have sensitive information but someone else is going to use it. It appears simply restoring to factory settings will not get rid of personal data.
Is this possible? And if so, please outline the process - do I wipe clean then restore settings?
Based on what you are asking, I do not believe there is much you can do about wiping it and restoring it without the recovery CD's.
Here's what I see.
I believe Dell has a recovery partition.
Doing a recovery will put it to factory specs, but there is a chance that data could be found. The person would have to be good at it.
Using a program such as Dban (Derricks boot and nuke) would write the drive with 1 and 0 which is department of defense for security wipe.
Doing Dban will also erase your recovery partition, if you have one.
Without recover CD's you can't re-install the OS.
An option is to contact Dell and see if you can get recovery CD's for a nominal fee.
If you do, then you can Dban it and reinstall the OS.
may want to look here and read about SDelete v1.51 By Mark Russinovich...its free too You can use SDelete both to securely delete existing files, as well as to securely erase any file data that exists in the unallocated portions of a disk (including files that you have already deleted or encrypted). SDelete implements the Department of Defense clearing and sanitizing standard DOD 5220.22-M, to give you confidence that once deleted with SDelete, your file data is gone forever.