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Saving a Partition to a Disk

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Anonymous
a b G Storage
December 29, 2010 3:15:59 PM

I have a PC that I'm looking to sell. I would like to use a program to completely erase the hard drive, and then reinstall the OS, etc. However, no discs came with the PC since the OS/factory settings is installed on a separate partition on the hard drive.

If I run one of these programs that wipe the hard drive, I'm assuming the partition with the OS will be deleted as well. Can I save that partition to a disc, and then boot/ restore the computer and OS?

Thanks!

More about : saving partition disk

a c 289 G Storage
December 29, 2010 8:06:13 PM

It would be easier to download a freeware program that wipes the "free space" in the partition in question. Be aware that a truly determined attacker can read data even after a half-decent wiping. How likely is it that someone is actually after your data?

Oh - format the partition first. You don't want things like your pagefile sticking around with snapshots of what was in your memory last week.

See, for example, http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-secure-erase-....

There are utilities to invoke a disk "self-destruct" command, but that would wipe the partition that you need also. If you save that partition with something like Norton Ghost (no flames, please) or Acronis, and then wipe the whole disk, you will lose the disk's customized Master Boot Record and not be able to boot into the restored partition. This can be cured if you are handy with boot managers, but we're talking much more work. Skip this if you do not consider the threat of attack high.

If the threat is really high, or the potential loss enormous, don't sell the machine as-is. Disassemble the hard drive and shred the platters.

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Anonymous
a b G Storage
December 29, 2010 9:59:14 PM

WyomingKnott said:
It would be easier to download a freeware program that wipes the "free space" in the partition in question. Be aware that a truly determined attacker can read data even after a half-decent wiping. How likely is it that someone is actually after your data?

Oh - format the partition first. You don't want things like your pagefile sticking around with snapshots of what was in your memory last week.

See, for example, http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-secure-erase-....

There are utilities to invoke a disk "self-destruct" command, but that would wipe the partition that you need also. If you save that partition with something like Norton Ghost (no flames, please) or Acronis, and then wipe the whole disk, you will lose the disk's customized Master Boot Record and not be able to boot into the restored partition. This can be cured if you are handy with boot managers, but we're talking much more work. Skip this if you do not consider the threat of attack high.

If the threat is really high, or the potential loss enormous, don't sell the machine as-is. Disassemble the hard drive and shred the platters.


Basically, i want to sell an old PC. I'm not sure if anyone would be after data or not. I just wanted to be on the safe side and use something like dban to wipe the hard drive. But the OS is on the HD, so I'm not sure what to do.

Some of the things you mentioned I would not know how to do. I guess I can't simply save the partition to a data disk, and then boot from it and load the OS/settings onto the PC after a dban wipe, can I?
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a b G Storage
December 29, 2010 10:37:48 PM

There should be an option to burn the recovery partition onto a couple of DVD-R's. I know HP, Dell, and all the major OEM's have that option. I know on HP's, it's listed in the file called "PC Support" in the Start Menu. I would check into that first. If you can, then you can wipe it out and use the DVD's to reinstall the OS.
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a c 289 G Storage
December 30, 2010 12:05:02 PM

Quote:
Some of the things you mentioned I would not know how to do. I guess I can't simply save the partition to a data disk, and then boot from it and load the OS/settings onto the PC after a dban wipe, can I?


Practical answer: First, boot the machine to the recovery console that uses the manufacturer's hidden partition to restore the OS to its initial state. "In theory," this will erase all of your private data, since it resets the system to the condition in which it was shipped to you.

Second, install and run any freeware tool to "wipe" freespace by overwriting it several times with a succession of patterns. This will wipe out any data was stored in parts of the disk that are now marked as being unused but may still have your credit card number and love letters in them. Try this tool: http://www.fileshredder.org/

Commentary:

The idea is that every sector that is used will have been written by the recovery process, and every sector that is not used will be overwritten with garbage. This guarantees that all of the old data is destroyed. :D 

Other members: Will the re-install be enough to wipe out the contents of the pagefile, which may contain just about anything? I think that it will, but please help inhalexhale_1 out here if I am giving bad advice.

Technical answer: The way a PC boots up typically involves three steps. The BIOS, which lives on your motherboard, initializes this-and-that and looks for the first disk that is tagged as bootable (by having an "active partition"). The BIOS then runs the small program that it finds in the disk's Master Boot Record (MBR), which was created when the original OS was installed. This MBR is not associated with any partition. The program from the MBR, which is not necessarily specific to any operating system, chooses a partition (it may offer you choices) and then loads the Partition Boot Record (others: is that the correct term?) which is specific to the OS and actually loads the OS.

So if you save the partition and wipe the disk, then restore the partition, you will have no MBR for the BIOS to hand off to, and the PBR will never get loaded. Moderately advanced skills, and lots of practice, may be needed to create a new MBR and have it hand off to the restored PBR. :sleep: 
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