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How to format Dell Dimension hard drive prior to selling on?


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How to format Dell Dimension hard drive prior to selling on?

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Can anyone advise me how I can format the hard drive of my Dimension 4550 to remove all my files prior to selling it to someone?

I could laboriously sit down and remove everything that has accummulated since I bought the PC many years ago - but I reckon to format the hard drive and install the original Dell setup from the disks provided - thus returning the PC to its original 'virgin' condition will be easier and safer.

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  • Reformatting is the only way to go.  However, reformatting does not actually remove everything if someone wanted to use a program that can retrieve data from a erased disc (the police have such programs).  In most cases just reformatting is sufficient but there is the possibility since reformatting doesn't really erase everything just "flags" the areas on the drive as avaiable to be used (written to). 

    HERE is a program that is supposed to do secure deletions.  I know nothing about it other than I found it doing a google search.

    Some say the only 100% way is to replace the hard drive with a new one, but that would boost the selling price of a used computer, such as this one, over the market price.

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  • Thanks Fireberd...I will give this program a try - once I figure out how to 'dismount' the drive on the PC!



  • Hey Frank, I'll make a quick list of what you need to do. Print this out first, cause once you wipe the drive there is no going back.

    You need two pieces of software. The disk-wipe program & something to burn an ISO (or "image") with.

    1) On the link provided by Firebrad, scroll down until you see "Darik's Boot and Nuke" then download it (save it to your desktop to make things easy).
    2) Next do a Google search for a program called "IMG Burn." It should be the first hit. Download that from their site.
    3) Install IMG burn to your computer. Once done & with IMG Burn running you'll have to tell it to "Create disc from Image" (it should be a menu with large icons)
    4) Once you select that option, you'll then need to load Darik's Boot & Nuke to IMG Burn.
    5)  Insert a CD & let it do what it's gotta do.
    6) Once the disc is burned restart your computer. Press F12 to choose the boot menu options & choose your CD/DVD drive. DBAN should load. There is an option there to wipe the drive. It'll take something like 36 hours for a proper wipe. This will make it impossible (without multi-thousand dollar equipment) to recover your data.

    If done properly, once complete, take out the CD. Turn the computer on & it should say "No OS found" when attempting to load.

    Good luck, & backup your data before hand if you haven't already. 

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  • frankieirishman

    After erasing the hard drive, you will need to reinstall XP and load the drivers.

    First, disconnect all the peripherals from the system, except the keyboard, mouse and monitor.

    You can use the Dell's Guide for a Manual Reinstallation of windows HERE and maybe this interactive guide for a clean reinstall of XP HERE can help.

    While installing, remember to delete all existing partitions when you are prompted, then recreate the partitions and format the hard drive, following by installing XP.

    After installing XP, you need to install the drivers and applications in the correct order, see HERE.

    Followed by installing the Anti Virus utility, updating the definitions, then all the critical Microsoft updates.



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  • Cheers Gregory. I have done a backup - and I will try your fix on the oldest, least valuabl PC first - in case I screw it up - although your instructions look pretty comprehensive.


    Thanks for the fix.



  • Thanks Bev....this all is starting to sound like something that may well be beyond my expertise level !!


    In your opinion, is there an easier way to ensure my data is removed before selling these PC's?