Did the Genius Bar wipe my HD/reinstall correctly?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by JustLikeYou, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. JustLikeYou macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Hello there. I tried searching for my answer first, but I couldn't find satisfying answer to my question. Then again, I'm a giant Stupid when it comes to using search properly, so if this is answered already, I apologize :)

    I just sold my Macbook so I could buy the upgraded 13" MBP for my last year in school for design. Before meeting the buyer to trade off, I took my computer with me to the Apple store to get instructions on how to wipe all the data and do a clean install. I told the guy at the Genius Bar I wanted all the data wiped and zeroed out, and asked if he had instructions on how to do so. It was a slow day in the store, so he basically did it for me, putting in the install disk, booting from the menu and choosing "Erase and Install" from the menu. It went through the process of checking the disk and took a while to go through a process before installing disk 1, and then disk 2. The disks came out and it started playing the welcome video and asking the basics`for set up. I didn't want to set it up for the new owner, so the Apple guy shut it off, said good to go, and I handed it over to the new owner. The process took about an hour and a half.

    Now, normally I am very thorough with these things, but for some reason I was more lax with my screening process, and after reviewing these boards, not once did I see an option for "1 pass, 7 pass or 35 pass erase" option... just the "Erase and Install" option from the disk. I'm sure that was fine enough, since the Apple guy seemed to know what he was doing, but now I'm a little paranoid - could my data still be retreived or is it fine? There wasn't anything too sensitive on there, mostly my itunes library, iphoto library, and huge amount of design work from school... but I just want to make sure. Thanks for any help!
  2. JGruber macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2006
    In short, Yes.

    Once the 'Erase and Install' was performed, the data is gone, because the disk has been written over. Now some will argue this, but it would take really good data recovery to get any hint at your old data, and services like that are not cheap.
  3. MarkMS macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    What the "Genius" did was not a secure erase. All he did was delete a file (index) that helps the OS find the files/folders that were stored. It's sort of like deleting the index out of a textbook. The information is still there, but the OS will not be able to find out where they are located. You can still get some software to extract the data to another drive until the new installation of OS X writes over the old files. The reinstallation of OS X has already written over some files, but not all of them. The only way to be sure is to fill the drive fully. This is how people used to erase 1st Gen iPhones when Apple didn't have a more secure way to write over the files.

    The options for a quick erase (erase index only), 1-pass (writes zeros over files once), 7-pass (writes zeros over files 7 times, meets Dept. of Defense Specifications), and 35-pass (writes zeros 35 times) can be found in Disk Utility when you boot from the OS X installation disc. Anytime I sell any of my Macs, I do a 7-pass install just because I feel more secure doing that. It's overkill since one or two 1-pass zero writes should be sufficient from those who are snoopy.

    As for you being paranoid, I don't think you should worry that much. If someone was really after your data, you would know it. If it eases your mind, you can just keep an eye on your bank account/credit cards, and change passwords to your email and web login accounts.
  4. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    $100 for StellarPhoenix. In short: it gets the job done. Though it is prone to crashing in the middle of a drive scan.
  5. JGruber macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2006
    Yes, this is true. For me if I bought the Macbook, it simply wouldn't be worth it to go through the process of it, also with Data Recovery there is no guarantee they can even recovery anything.
  6. JustLikeYou thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Ok... so without some software or some good trying, he can't get into the old stuff? Like I said, there wasn't anything super incriminating or secure on the old drive (I am, after all, a poor college student :rolleyes:), but you never remember if there's that one document on the drive somewhere that has your bank info or social security or whatever.

    I'm more concerned of an "accident" where something didn't actually get deleted and when he starts the computer back up, say my itunes library or folder with design work is still there. I mean, when I was meeting the guy, it turned out after talking for a few minutes that he works for the same company as one of my good friends, so I'm not terribly worried about him being a criminal after my info... but there's always the butterflies. hah.
  7. JGruber macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2006
    Your Fine. Don't worry about it.

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