Guide to 'Wiping' Machine before Disposal (Sale)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by yuanmoons, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. yuanmoons macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    #1
    Im in the process of returning one laptop to Apple and selling another on eBay and i felt to create a list, as i go, of steps that could be taken to ensure there is zero to minimal personal history left on the laptop. This seems to have been a bi-yearly event for me!

    This is the beginnings of a guide to thoroughly 'clean' a laptop that you no longer need and are planning to release back into the wild!

    I appreciate some people might consider some of the actions 'extreme' (maybe?) whilst others will chose to add or refine steps that have been included, or suggest further steps that may be unnecessary for most.

    So additions & modifications are welcome.

    Maybe someone could bring together a well structured step-by-step guide from the information gathered. Maybe one already exists?

    What ive done so far

    * backup all important information to external drive or new laptop
    * deauthorized the apple itunes account.
    * signed out of mobileme account in system preferences
    * sign out of all similiar accounts.
    * reset all private info from web browsers
    * clear all browser cache / reset web browsers

    * secure delete all personal files/documents anywhere on drive
    * secure delete iphoto & itunes libraries
    * secure delete anything with a personal reference
    * secure delete all 'relevant' application support folders
    * secure delete all mail / email folders
    * secure delete ical data file
    * secure delete address book file
    * secure delete all preferences files & similiar files
    * secure delete keychain login

    * Create another user account under generic name with admin priviledges then delete the previously used user account.

    * From newly created generic admin account use disk utility to secure erasure free space on drive with whatever level of security / number of passes you feel comfortable with.

    * Finally, clean install of Mac OSX using install CDs
    * Could zero out free drive space one more time?

    Have i missed anything?
     
  2. imiloa macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2003
    Location:
    oahu
    #2
    With the complexity of Unix and OS X these days, it seems likely you could miss a random prefs or log file with private data.

    I use a simpler process:

    1. Backup all data and migrate to new machine.
    2. Format with multiple passes of random writes ("Security Options" in Disk Utility).
    3. Reinstall OS (if reselling).

    This process wipes all your apps, but you could reinstall ones you wanted to pass on to the next person. For most apps, you can just copy them from your backup to the disc. But doing so does risk reinstalling private data on the disc, via files stored in app archive packages.
     
  3. yuanmoons thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 7, 2008
    #3
    I suppose i could i just boot from a cloned external drive and then wipe the whole drive (x no passes, leave overnight) and then reinstall a fresh OS?

    This seems a simplier, more comprehensive & less complicated way.... ? hmmmm....... maybe the guide is pointless, apart from deauthorising the itunes account.

    I can boot from the install cds and use disk utility from there to secure delete and then reinstall - right? Am i wasting my time with the list? YES
     
  4. MasterNile macrumors 65816

    MasterNile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    #4
    Following your steps (all except reinstalling Mac OS X) would leave all of the current programs on there intact correct? I'm going to be selling my iMac to a friend soon, he wants to pick and choose which programs to keep but I want to wipe any of my personal information off of there-I don't have anything real important since I don't do much with my iMac.
     
  5. yuanmoons thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    #5
    Im not an expert but probably 'yes'. If you delete the application support folders for the apps you want to leave - securely - but leave the actual application intact then when the app is next used it will generate a new/clean application folder for itself.

    If you've installed programs that are just for one user you then youd have to let him have your user account - so might want to remove the password and let him add his own (and change name).

    Remember than different apps work differently eg, some might store data in a preference file, log file and another might store info in an application support folder.
     
  6. uicandrew macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    #6
    to start off with, for a lot of software, that is illegal/dishonest/violation of EULA, and you're hurting good developers whose work you obviously use/have used.

    but everyone's sense of right and wrong is different.

    putting that aside,

    the best way is to use SuperDuper, and to backup your existing information onto an external drive. that external drive is now bootable from any mac, and you lose NOTHING. (you keep all your programs, all your settings, etc)

    Then put in the original OS disc (you AT LEAST didn't pirate the operating system, right?) and you boot from it and choose to wipe your data clean. With the sophistication of data retrieval these days, and rampant ID theft, it is a very prudent idea. "Zero out" the hard drive using 3 passes, and that should be sufficient.

    If you switch/upgrade macs often, SuperDuper is invaluable, and please don't pirate his program. He even gives you a trial version.
     
  7. Horst Guest

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #7
    Definitely wipe her clean, and do a fresh install, like uicandrew suggested .

    Otherwise not only your sensitive data can fairly easily be recovered, you might also mess up the system for the next owner.

    SuperDuper's trial lets you do a bootable system clone to either an external harddrive, or your new computer (via Target mode); or you can do the same with disk utility's restore function.
     
  8. MattZani macrumors 68030

    MattZani

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    Back Up Important Data.

    Boot of the OS X Disc, Format HDD (To your specification of thoroughness)

    Reinstall OS X

    Done.
     
  9. yuanmoons thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 7, 2008
    #9
    Are you related to Chef Gordon "F" Ramsey? :D
     
  10. MattZani macrumors 68030

    MattZani

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    UK
    #10
    No, but i love his humor.
     
  11. MasterNile macrumors 65816

    MasterNile

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    Apr 9, 2008
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    #11
    Come off your high uninformed horse, the programs I am refering to are things like AdiumX, iSquint, MacTheRipper, MetaX, VLC, Handbrake, Seashore, Simplify Media, Grand Perspective, LiteIcon, Onyx, Senuti, Team Viewer, Skype, Winclone and iLife.

    How am I costing any developer any money by leaving those programs on my computer? All I'm doing is saving myself the trouble of telling my friend to download and install those programs.

    Also I use CarbonCopyCloner instead of SuperDuper
     
  12. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #12
    Here is what I do:
    • Clone to an external HD using Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC).
    • Deauthorized iTunes account.
    • Verify (and update if needed) all install and account passwords. Easier to fix while you can still long into your account.
    • Boot using the clone.
    • Securely erase the HD -- 7 passes.
    • Reboot from Mac OS X DVD and do a clean install.
     
  13. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    #13
    Do you and your buddies swap girls too?

    Just kidding, but as with any computer system, anything short of actual destruction of the medium will leave your data compromised. Still, a one pass zero write will be sufficient for most applications since your common joe will not have the time or know how to extract such data, but I do 7 simply because I know how easy it is to retrieve data from hard disks for those who do.

    OP, I would wipe it down and do a clean install AFTER which you can reinstall whatever programs you like. even with a hand washing of those applications through various preferences and dialougs, most programs almost always save something elsewhere, whether it be in the users library folder or stored within the programs container.
     
  14. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #14
    I'd would keep the hard drive and put a brand new one in. And then format, plus instal the OS. You can always just drag your data off the original hard drive to the new computer's drive. And then reformat the original hard drive and use it as an external. :D
     
  15. kastenbrust macrumors 68030

    kastenbrust

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    North Korea
    #15
    You can reinstall MAC OSX as so to wipe all your personal and account data but leave all applications intact.
     
  16. THX1139 macrumors 68000

    THX1139

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #16
    I don't understand why someone would NOT want to erase and revert the laptop back to factory standards. If you're selling to a friend then you should just let them install whatever programs they want. Are they too lazy? I would never buy a laptop with someone else's programs or data on it. It's like moving into a house without the previous owners not totally moving out. Part of the fun is setting up and customizing your "new" laptop the way you want it.
     
  17. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #17
    Not necessarily, depending on where you saved information on your computer and how that information was erased.

    In this case, scorched Earth policy is the best policy. That way you leave no stone unturned and are assured that all personal information has been erased.
     
  18. kastenbrust macrumors 68030

    kastenbrust

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    North Korea
    #18
    if someone really wanted to they could get the data back even if you fully formatted the hard drive 5 times so i wouldnt get too worried about it.
     
  19. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #19
    Formatting and wiping are different.

    One wipe and most readily commercial recover software will not work. Seven wipes and you are relatively secure. If you must, then the 35 pass option is available.
     
  20. mbopy22 macrumors 6502

    mbopy22

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2005
    #20
    Sorry to bring this up again. but short quick question

    Would a full BACK UP via Time Machine will be sufficient to re install everything (files, apps, config. preferences, etc.) on a new MAC?

    I´m selling my BlackBook and getting a MBP, just wanted to wipe out and clear completely the HDD of the BlackBook, and then reinstall everything on the new MBP

    Any suggestions? :D
     
  21. re2st macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #21
    Yes. It would.
    However, just in case you want to quickly boot from your old system exactly the way it was again, make another (bootable) backup using Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper.
     

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