How to erase all personal data from a computer-Windows and macOS- All Explained

How to erase all personal data from a computer-Windows and macOS- All Explained
How to erase all personal data from a computer-Windows and macOS- All Explained

Whether you have to sell it, exchange it for a new one, or just pass it on to a friend or relative- whatever might be the reason, but you have to delete all private data from your computer.

It’s very important.

Our computers and mobile phones contain some of the most private things of our life, much more private than anything else – our data.

Most crucial parts of our professional and personal lives are stored on our PCs and it’s very important to keep them safe.

The factory reset is the most common way people delete data from the computer, but…..

How to erase all personal data from a computer-Windows and macOS- All Explained
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How to erase all personal data from a computer-Windows and macOS- All Explained

We often fool ourselves into a false sense of security by making a factory reset and thinking all problems are solved now. Well, they aren’t.

Here we will be telling you how to do a factory reset and why sometimes it is not enough.

We will also tell you if, and how, to take the help of a professional company to make sure all data has been permanently deleted from your PC and how to recycle it once it’s done.

Know about factory reset first

What is it?

A factory reset basically means deleting all the data that wasn’t on the computer when it came out of production, i.e., factory, hence the name.

How to erase all personal data from a computer-Windows and macOS- All Explained
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How to erase all personal data from a computer-Windows and macOS- All Explained

It puts everything to its original form, right after it was first produced. That means your data from the application will be deleted permanently and you won’t be able to access it.

Okay, so what’s the problem if it’s really been permanently deleted from your applications, right?

Here’s the problem. All that deleted data will still be there on your hard drive. There it stays, if not on the applications.

Factory reset leaves all the data on the hard drive until your hard drive is overwritten with new data.

When is a factory reset enough?

The factory reset is an effective way to rid your computer of regular glitches like malfunctioning applications and fixing problems in it.

The factory reset is often helpful in getting rid of viruses too. When a persistent virus does not leave your system, a factory reset is often very helpful.

Although it’s important to keep in mind that some rare viruses can actually escape the factory reset as well. In that case, you may need experts to help.

And here’s how to do it…

Factory reset a Mac

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In easy steps:

  • Backup all your important data in a cloud service.
  • Logout of all current services you use
  • Your computer must be plugged in for the duration of the process
  • Restart in recovery mode
  • When the computer shuts down and turns on again, hold command + R until you see the Apple’s logo
  • Now you will see a “macOS Utilities” window.
  • Choose disk utility > continue
  • Choose correct startup disc and select erase
  • Choose macOS Extended (Journaled) as the format
  • Now click erase and wait until the process finishes
  • Now go to the Disk Utility menu > quit
  • Now re-install MacOS if you wish

Now Let’s Factory reset a PC

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Again, In easy steps:

  • Backup all your important data in a cloud service.
  • Logout of all current services you use
  • Your computer must be plugged in for the duration of the process
  • Go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery
  • You will see a title that says “Reset this PC.” Click Get Started.
  • Now you can select ‘Keep my files‘ or ‘Remove everything‘.
  • Keep my files‘ resets your options to default and removes uninstalled apps but keeps your data intact. ‘Remove everything‘, as its name suggests, will delete your files.
  • Now use Fresh Start option: Settings > Update & Security > Recovery page
  • Click the link text “Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows” at the bottom
  • That opens a Windows Defender Security Center window to the Fresh Start option.
  • Click Get started.

When these factory resets aren’t enough

When we delete data through a factory reset, the information is still stored on the hard drive. A hacker can retrieve almost everything using a data forensics tool.

So what now?

People often throw away laptops in water, burn them with highly concentrated acids, or try to smash them with a hammer to make sure everything is finally gone.

But…

You guessed it. Even most of these hardcore methods aren’t always enough to completely destroy those platters on which the data is stored. Unless…

Unless you smash those platters on which the data is stored. Platters are CD-like pieces of the hard drive that actually store all your important data.

Just smash those platters and make sure they can’t spin. That’s it.

And yes, do wear safety glasses while you do it because those platters break into really small and tiny shards that you most definitely don’t want in your eyes.

If you have Solid State Drives

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How to erase all personal data from a computer-Windows and macOS- All Explained

While smashing a platter seems like an easy job, it’s possible your computer has Solid State Drive or SSD instead of Platters.

Ideally, to destroy an SSD, you would need something like the SSMD-2MM Solid State Media Disintegrator, which is something that professional data destruction companies should have. This shreds up your drive to the point of being undiscoverable.

So how do you know if you have an SSD or not?

We’ll tell you how to find that out.

For a PC:

  • Click on the Windows key + R to open the run box
  • Type in “dfrgui” and then press Enter
  • A Disk Defragmenter window will pop up
  • Now check the media type column to find out if you have an SSD or HDD

For Mac:

  • Click on the menu > About this Mac > System Report > Hardware > Storage

Do not forget to recycle

Now after you’ve finally deleted everything from your PC, you must make sure it gets recycled. Do not just throw it in the dustbin. You can definitely find e-waste recycling companies in your locality through the help from the internet. Now that you know how to delete the data from your PC and how not to, stay safe! Until next time, bye!

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