How to wipe everything from hard drive except the OS?

Hey all. I have a computer I need to sell, and I want to completely wipe the hard drive clean without deleting the operating system before I do. I'm running Windows XP Professional SP3. How should I go about doing this?

I've already cloned my drive to an external drive. I'm pretty sure I have everything backed up, so I can access it on my new computer.
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  1. If you're going to continue to use that copy of XP, you can't sell the original as genuine so you may as well format the drive completely - twice. Then, you could install a free Operating System from the Linux stable to prove the machine works, leaving it to the buyer to install whatever they want.

  2. I read that formatting the drive does not completely erase the data. Is this incorrect? If I format the drive twice, will it completely erase everything? Also, how can I install a free operating system from Linux?

  3. Delete all your personal files first, empty the Recycle Bin and use something like CCleaner from j and/or ATF Cleaner from to fish out all the clutter. Restart and use CCleaner again, this time with the Wipe Free Space box ticked. That could take some time but after that, a double format should see off any possibilities of data recovery.

    Download a free Linux OS - my recommendation is PCLinuxOS from - and run it as a LiveCD then when it's up and running, click Install and let it do the rest for you. Drivers aren't a problem and everything will work out properly.

    It's better than selling without a hard disk or with a dodgy Windows system.

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