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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 jhttp://www.piriform.com and/or ATF Cleaner from http://www.atribune.org 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 http://www.pclinuxos.com - 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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