Wiping Sensitive Data Without Reinstalling OS?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by willy101, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. willy101 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    #1
    Hello Friends,

    Long time reader new poster here. I recently received an offer to sell my old 2009 MB Pro. I want to wipe all my personal data. Normally I would just restore the thing and be done with it, but I have Microsoft Office installed, and I don't have the original CDs to reinstall it.

    What's the best way of removing personal information without reimaging the whole thing?

    Does Mac OS deleting really delete the file or just label it so you can write on it again? Or Is there a DBAN for Mac?

    I have little experience with Mac OS.

    Sensitive Info would be things like Passwords saved to Firefox and documents from work.
     
  2. HarryPot macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    #2
    I'm lost. Did the new buyer asked for Office to be installed?

    I'm not completely sure, but there are two ways to delete the trash in a Mac: "empty trash" and "secure empty trash". The later deletes the files in a way for them never to be able to recover them. The later just puts them as "available" space to replace.

    Anyways, I wouldn't sell a computer without making a clean install, unless I knew the buyer. Why risk it?
     
  3. willy101 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
  4. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #4
    You can create the new admin user account, in Apple Menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups (Users & Groups name varies by OS X version), then from that account delete the old one and choose the option to remove all user files and settings.

    Then you can go into the hard drive and delete any files you may have put in the shared user folder or the root level of the hard drive. If it is still listed in the Users folder you can delete your old account entirely.

    Once that is done you can go to Boot Volume\Applications\Utilities and open Disk Utility. Click your drive and go to the Erase tab. From there select the option to Erase Free Space and choose the most secure option then erase. This will take quite a while. I would go to the Energy Saver pane in System Preferences and set your computer to never sleep to avoid interruptions.

    This won't delete all references to your name. Any registered software will still be in your name. There may be other references to you, your address and other personal info scattered about the System, Library and main hidden folders. The only way to be certain is to replace the hard drive, destroy the old one and reinstall OS X.

    However what info does remain would require someone very knowledgeable to dig it out. What remains is likely much less than personal info than can be found in a few quick Google searches.
     
  5. John T macrumors 68020

    John T

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Location:
    UK.
    #5
    There are three ways to erase data on your computer.

    1) "Empty Trash". This action removes the marker on the drive which indicates the location of the file. Provided the file is not subsequently overwritten by another file, using easily available software, the file can easily be recovered.

    2) "Finder > Secure Empty Trash". This action overwrites the data with random characters which, theoretically makes the original data impossible to recover.

    However, nothing is impossible! - If you are really paranoid:-

    3) "Disc Utility > Erase > Secure Erase". This is similar to (2) except that Disk Utility writes over the erased files’ data, so it can never be recovered. You can choose to write over the data once, 7 times, or 35 times. Writing over the data several times is more secure than writing over it once, but takes longer.

    Hope this clarifies things for you.
     
  6. willy101 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012

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