How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Updated: August 18, 2021

Normally you would want to wipe your computer before selling it or trashing it, or maybe it’s just getting a little rusty and you want to do a reinstallation. Whether the reasons are legitimate or not, wiping your computer is sometimes a necessary step in data protection.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Normally you would want to wipe your computer before selling it or trashing it, or maybe it’s just getting a little rusty and you want to do a reinstallation. Whether the reasons are legitimate or not, wiping your computer is sometimes a necessary step in data protection.

In 2021, one doesn’t need to be tech-savvy to wipe a computer. Read on and learn how to wipe your computer, with just a few clicks.

In this article, you’ll learn:

Will the data be gone for good?

Yes, and no. The answer depends on what type of hard drive you’re using.

Generally there’re 2 types of hard drives: hard disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD). HDDs are an old-school storage, which tend to be thicker, slower but cheaper. And SSDs are a newer device that tends to be thinner, faster and more expensive.

It’s virtually impossible to recover data from a SSD as it uses flash memory. But if you’re using a HDD, it’ll be a different story. In most cases, it takes more effort to thoroughly wipe data on a HDD.

You can follow these steps to check what type of hard drive you’re using:

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows logo key and R at the same time to invoke the Run box. Type or paste dfrgui and click OK.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  2. In the Media type column, you can find out which drive is a SSD, and which one is a HDD.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Pre-steps before wiping a computer

Here’re some pre-steps you should take before wiping your PC. They could save you from saying “Should have done that earlier blah blah blah…”.

Backup your files

Wiping your computer means all your files will be lost. So if you have any precious data such as serial keys, documents and photos, make sure you relocate them to a secure location.

One way to backup is simply dragging your files to an external storage device, such as an USB flash drive or a hard drive. But external devices are not immune to loss or theft. If you value your personal data, you should consider using a cloud storage backup. A secure product like Acronis True Image combines encrypted cloud backups and antimalware, allowing you to restore your system anywhere, anytime.

How to wipe clean a computer and start overAcronis True Image

Download device drivers

Normally Windows will install the corresponding drivers after a reinstallation, but that’s not always the case. In that situation, you’ll need to download all device drivers beforehand.

Methods to wipe a computer

Here’re the approaches you can take to easily wipe your computer. Simply choose the one that matches your operating system.

Window 10

As the latest flagship product, Windows 10 offers you a simple way to wipe all the data on your computer.

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows logo key and I at the same time. This will open the Windows Settings app. Then click Update & Security.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  2. From the left menu, select Recovery. Under the Reset this PC section, click Get started.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  3. In the pop-up window, select Remove everything.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  4. Click Next to continue.

Once complete, you’ll find all your data is gone.

Window 8

To wipe a Windows 8 computer is never something difficult. You can do that with just a few clicks.

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows logo key and I at the same time. This will open the Windows 8 Settings Charm Bar. Click Change PC settings.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  2. From the left menu, select General. Then scroll down to the Remove everything and reinstall Windows section. Click Get started.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  3. Click Next.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  4. Select Fully clean the drive.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  5. Click Reset.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

This will take some time for Windows to reset. After this process, you will have a clean computer with no personal data in it.

Windows 7

If you’re using Windows 7, you can follow these steps to wipe your computer.

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows logo key. Select Control Panel.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  2. Select System and Security.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  3. Select Backup and Restore.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  4. Click Recover system settings or your computer.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  5. Click Advanced recovery methods.
    How to wipe clean a computer and start over
  6. Click Return your computer to factory condition. Then follow the on-screen instruction to reset your computer.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

So these are the ways you can wipe your computer. Hopefully, you have restored your computer to its former glory. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.

Plus, get free shipping and easy returns.

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How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Before you reset

How do you factory reset an HP laptop with Windows 10?

  • “Reset this PC”
  • “Go Back to an Earlier Build”
  • “Advanced”
  • Choose either “Keep my files,” or
  • “Remove everything” depending on your needs.

How do you factory reset an HP laptop with Windows 7 or 8?

Reset a hard drive with Window 7 or 8

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Install or reinstall Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, or XP from scratch

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

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What to Know

  • During a clean install of Windows—a last-ditch troubleshooting process—all the data on the computer’s hard drive is erased.
  • For Windows 11 & 10 users, the Reset This PC process is recommended over a clean install.
  • For Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP, a clean install is recommended for troubleshooting serious problems.

This article covers how to clean install Windows in an attempt to address serious problems with your computer. It includes information on how to prepare to reinstall your files on the computer after the clean install is complete.

When a Clean Install Is Recommended

A clean install of Windows is the right way to go when all other software troubleshooting you’ve tried has been unsuccessful and you want to install or reinstall a clean copy of Windows back on your computer.

Most of the time, you try a clean install after one of Windows’ automatic repair processes hasn’t solved your problem. A clean install returns your computer to pretty much the same state it was in the first day you turned it on.

In case it’s not clear yet, this should be reserved for the most serious of Windows operating system problems, since all the data on your primary hard drive partition (usually the C drive) is erased during the process.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

How to Clean Install Windows

A clean install of Windows is accomplished during the Windows setup process by removing the existing Windows installation (assuming there is one) before installing a new operating system or reinstalling the existing one.

In Windows 11 and Windows 10, the Reset This PC process is an easier-to-do, and equally effective, way to clean reinstall Windows. See How to Reset Your PC for a walkthrough.

The individual steps involved in completing a clean install can differ greatly based on the operating system you happen to be using:

  • How to Clean Install Windows 11
  • How to Clean Install Windows 10
  • How to Clean Install Windows 8
  • How to Clean Install Windows 7
  • How to Clean Install Windows Vista
  • How to Clean Install Windows XP

Important Reminders

Remember, a clean install will erase everything from the drive that Windows is installed on. When we say everything, we mean everything. You’ll need to back up anything you want to save before you begin this process! You can back up your files online or use an offline backup tool.

In addition to backing up the individual files you want to keep, you should also prepare to reinstall your programs. Gather the original installation discs and downloaded program setups to any program you want to put back on your computer.

In most cases, particularly with modern software programs that are still accessible online through digital downloads, knowing which programs you want to reinstall is enough (no real backup is necessary) because you can just re-download them from the software maker’s website. One easy way to document all your installed programs is with the Save to text file option in CCleaner, accessible via Tools > Uninstall.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

No program outside of those that come bundled with an original Windows setup will be on your computer after the clean install is complete.

If you only have a restore disc from your computer manufacturer but not an original Windows Setup disc or download, a clean install as described in the linked guides above may not be possible. Your restore disc might instead have a relatively similar process that will restore your entire PC, Windows, and programs, back to the factory default.

Please reference the documentation that came with your computer, or contact your computer manufacturer directly for directions.

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader’s Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

When you’re managing a public computer, you need a special kind of tool. You need a way to reset that computer back to a clean state every time it boots so no one can make any harmful changes.

Commercial solutions like Deep Freeze offer this feature, and Microsoft once offered it via its Windows Steady State tool for Windows XP and Vista. However, Windows Steady State has been discontinued and doesn’t work with Windows 7.

We’ll be using Reboot Restore Rx for this, as it supports both Windows 7 and Windows 8. Steadier State is another solid option, but it only works in Windows 7, and even then only with Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate.

Installing Reboot Restore Rx

Before installing Reboot Restore Rx, be sure that your system is in the clean state you want to “freeze” it in. Install the software you want, update it, arrange the desktop, and do everything else you need to do. Of course, you can temporarily disable Reboot Restore RX to update your system state later.

While installing Reboot Restore Rx, you can select the partitions you want to restore at reboot. This allows you to have a separate data partition that won’t be touched, if you like — or you can set Reboot Restore RX to restore all your partitions.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

The computer will restart to install the Reboot Restore Rx recovery environment. Whenever the computer boots, it will first boot into this environment, where the Windows drive’s state will be restored automatically before the computer boots normally. To undo any changes, you’ll just need to reboot your computer.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Preventing Users From Disabling Reboot Restore Rx

Reboot Restore RX is fairly simple to use. Its biggest problem is that it can be disabled without a password. By default, Reboot Restore Rx launches in the system tray each time you log in and provides you with a right-click option that allows you to easily disable the protection. If you’re using Reboot Restore RX to lock down a public computer, that’s not a good idea.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Your best bet is to prevent the Reboot Restore Rx icon from starting at boot by disabling it in MSConfig or a startup manager like the one found in CCleaner. If you want to disable the protection, you can then manually launch the Reboot Restore Rx application by browsing to it on your hard drive. The computer’s users could theoretically do this as well, but this provides more protection. You could even lock down the folder containing the Reboot Restore Rx application and require special user permissions to access it, which would prevent people from disabling it even if they went out of their way to look for it.

If you need to launch it later, you’ll find the system tray program installed at C:\RebootRestoreRx\program files\Shield\shieldtray.exe

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Updating or Changing Your System

Of course, you’ll occasionally want to modify your system. Whether you want to install updates, add new software, delete files, or do anything else on your computer, you’ll have to disable the feature. This is a very simple process.

  • First, disable the Restore on Reboot option from the system tray icon. If you have disabled the system tray icon, you will need to launch it manually.
  • Next, make your changes. Update your software and do everything else you want to do.
  • After you’re done, right-click the system tray icon again and select Restore on Reboot. When you do this, it will inform you that it’s making the current system the new baseline state.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Accessing the Boot Console

At the Reboot Restore Rx splash screen, which will appear every time your computer starts, you can press the Home key on your keyboard repeatedly to access a special menu. Anyone with access to the computer could theoretically do this, but they would need to know they have to press the Home key — it isn’t displayed on-screen.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

You can choose to Uninstall Reboot Restore Rx from here. This will remove Reboot Restore Rx from your system.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Reboot Restore Rx isn’t the most secure and enterprise-ready option, but it’s very easy-to-use and runs on a variety of different Windows systems. Reboot Restore Rx is ideal for people who want their computers to be in the same state every time they boot and don’t want to purchase the Ultimate edition of Windows or perform a more complicated setup process, whether they’re a business with a few public computers or parents who want their childrens’ computers locked down.

Windows 10 and Windows 11 have built-in tools to help create, copy, and securely wipe your hard drive and USB devices. When you delete content on your hard drive, you want to make sure that no one can ever recover it. If you want to securely wipe an internal, external, or USB hard drive, here’s what you need to do.

Windows 10 and Windows 11 have built-in tools to help create, copy, and securely wipe your hard drive, USB devices, external hard drives, and SD cards. Traditionally, if you ever wanted to quickly erase a USB flash drive, there is the trusty, built-in Windows tool to quickly format a hard drive. When you delete content anywhere, you want to make sure that no one can ever recover it.

If you have a solid-state drive (SSD), it’s best to start with encryption. SSDs are faster than traditional mechanical hard drives and use flash memory instead of magnetic platters to store data. If you purchased a new Windows PC in the last few years, you likely have a solid-state hard drive.

When you encrypt your hard drive, a mathematical process is used to muddle up the data using a passkey that only you have. Without the key, files on the drive will look like complete nonsense. If you want to completely wipe your hard drive, whether it be an internal, external, or USB flash drive, follow this guide to several methods to wipe your hard drive.

Method 1: Wipe your hard drive using File Explorer

Of course, there are other available methods to securely wipe your data from your internal, external and USB hard drives. This method is ideal for internal drives where you do not have your operating system installed, USB flash drives, and other external storage devices. Here’s what to do.

1. Open File Explorer
2. Right click the drive you want to erase
3. Click Format.
How to wipe clean a computer and start over

4. Be sure to uncheck Quick Format under Format Options, so that Windows 10 and Windows 11 perform a full format and click Start.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over
5. Click OK to confirm that you know you will be completely erasing everything on the drive.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

According to Microsoft’s documentation, since Windows Vista, Windows always writes zeros to the whole disk when performing a full format. In Windows XP and earlier, the format command didn’t write zeros to the whole disk when performing a full format.

Method 2: Wipe your drive using Command Prompt or PowerShell

Another method that might not be known to everyone is that you can use Command Prompt or PowerShell. You can use either program to perform a full format of any drive connected to your Windows 10 and Windows 11 PC. Here’s what to do.

1. Open Command Prompt or PowerShell with Administrator privileges.

2a. For Command Prompt, copy and paste the following:

In the Command Prompt command, replace VOLUME with your hard drive’s letter, and FLASHDRIVE-LABEL with the name you want for the drive to appear in File Explorer, FILE-SYSTEM with one of the available file systems, FAT32, exFAT, or NTFS, depending on what type you want to use.

Here’s a Command Prompt example for reference:

2b. For PowerShell, copy and paste the following:

In the PowerShell command, replace DRIVE-LETTER with your hard drive’s drive letter, and FILE-SYSTEM for FAT-32, exFAT, or NTFS, depending on what file system you want to use. If you do not know and are using Windows 10, NTFS could be an option. The “-Full” option tells Windows to perform a full format and the “-Force” indicates that you want to override the default Windows setting currently in place.

Here’s a PowerShell example for reference:

Format-Volume -DriveLetter E: -FileSystem exFAT -Full -Force

3. Press Enter to run the command. You may need to press Enter a second time after the “Insert new disk for drive ” message to complete the process.

One other way is to open either Command Prompt or PowerShell with administrative privileges and type the following commands as shown in the image below.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Method 3: Overwrite deleted data

In mechanical hard drives or an external storage device, you can also overwrite your free space to be even more secure by using cipher.

cipher

Using either Command Prompt or PowerShell, copy and paste the following command:

Here is a code example for your reference with cipher cleaning the C:/ drive.

One issue with using cipher is that you need to close as many applications running in the background as possible for cipher to overwrite the maximum amount of free space possible.

SDelete

SDelete (Secure Delete) is another command line utility that can be downloaded to clean your hard drives securely. You can use SDelete to securely delete existing files and securely erase any file data that exists in the unallocated parts of a disk (including files that you have already deleted or encrypted).

Method 4: Reset your PC

If you have a laptop or PC that only has one hard drive, your best bet is to use Reset PC to factory reset Windows 10. Windows 11 users can also use Reset PC to fix any issues they might be having and start a new Windows desktop experience.

Be sure to check out OnPodcast: the OnMSFT.com podcast, where contributing writers Arif Baccchus and Kareem Anderson for a weekly roundup at the big news of the week and a look at the upcoming week, with insightful analysis along the way.

Send in your questions for Arif and Kareem to [email protected], and enjoy the shows!

What methods do you use to delete and clean drives on Windows 10 and Windows 11? Let us know in the comments!

We’ve updated this with Windows 11 and Android 12 information.

Your computer, phone, or tablet holds all kinds of personal information about you, and before you sell, return, recycle, or donate it, you should make sure to delete all of that information correctly. On most devices, wiping your data securely is pretty straightforward, and doing so can prevent your data from being recovered by someone you would rather not have it. How you do this depends on which operating system you have and what type of storage drive your device has.

Before you wipe a computer, make sure that you have a backup of any files you need and deactivate any software that requires doing so. For Macs, Apple recommends logging out of any iCloud services, including iTunes and iMessages.

Next, figure out which type of storage your computer has. On Windows, this information is harder to find than it should be, but the easiest way is to open the Defragment and Optimize Drives tool (type “defragment” into the search menu in the taskbar). On a Mac, click the Apple logo and then About this Mac, and select the Storage tab. The entry typically says “solid state” or “flash storage” for a solid-state drive (SSD), whereas for a mechanical hard drive it says “hard disk drive.”

The following directions for wiping a computer will work with any system running Windows 10, as well as most Macs. If you have an older copy of Windows or if you like to get into the weeds with different file-deletion methods, a third-party tool like Dban is your best option.

The research

  • If you have a solid-state drive, start with encryption
  • Wipe and reset your computer
  • Smartphones and tablets

If you have a solid-state drive, start with encryption

If you purchased your computer in the past few years, it probably has a solid-state drive. SSDs are faster than older, mechanical hard drives and use flash memory instead of magnetic platters. But the downside of the technology is that securely deleting files from an SSD is very hard. SSDs use a technique called wear leveling to prolong life, but a side effect of this process is that data can remain on a drive even after you’ve erased it. Instead of using special software to erase an SSD’s contents, you’re better off encrypting the drive, which employs a mathematical process to muddle up the data using a passkey that only you have. Without the key, files on the drive look like gibberish—even if someone succeeds in recovering files, that person still won’t be able to open them.

The good news: Encrypting your storage drive is simple. This is something we recommend doing for every computer with an SSD, even if you’re not selling it. You can also encrypt mechanical hard drives for the same reason, but the process takes a particularly long time, and it’s easier to do a good-enough job of removing data on mechanical drives.

Chromebooks usually use solid-state storage, but Google enables encryption by default, so if you’re resetting a Chromebook, you can skip this section.

Yes, this is still a Rails blog–but being productive in Rails means a lot more than just knowing Ruby and the framework. You also need to know your way around a version control system. That (hopefully) means Git. There are lots of excellent introductions to Git already available. If there’s interest I can put together a list of some of my favorites. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some other Git workflows I use on a regular basis. Today, I want to share my process for those times when I’ve spiked some code I don’t care to keep–or just made such a mess I want to back up and start over.

This short workflow assumes you’re already tracking a project with Git. It uses the following Git commands:

  • git diff
  • git reset
  • git clean

This process will wipe out all uncommitted work. To hold onto this work for future reference, I like to save out a diff file:

Don’t forget, git diff won’t include new, untracked files unless you’ve staged them with git add first.

To start cleaning, remove changes to files you’re already tracking in your repository:

This resets the contents of your project to their state at your most recent commit ( HEAD ). Again, the –hard flag is destructive–if you don’t have a backup of your work-in-progress, it’s gone!

If you haven’t added any new, untracked files since the previous commit, you’re done. If you have, you can remove them all at once with

The -f flag forces the clean; the -d tag applies it to untracked directories, too. These flags do not clean up files you’re ignoring in your .gitignore file; you can add those with

Take caution with the -x flag to git clean ! It’s handy for cleaning out junk like temp files and old development logs, but it will also delete any other file you’ve specified Git to ignore. For example, your Rails project’s database.yml file could get wiped out if you’re not careful. I almost always find git clean -fd does what I need.

After git clean , your workspace is as fresh as it was following your most recent commit:

I hope this little Git productivity boost has been helpful. If you have a different way to accomplish this task, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Test with confidence!

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

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Everyone’s heard the old troubleshooting tip, “Just turn it off and back on again.” It’s a tip that works surprisingly often — but if you’re stuck in a situation where your Mac is malfunctioning and nothing is fixing it, it might be time to try a more extreme solution: wiping your Mac.

A factory reset will wipe your Mac computer, restoring its software to the state it was in when you first turned it on. That means that all your personal files and data will disappear. This is a good idea if all other troubleshooting has failed for your Mac, you’re trying to wipe out your private data, or if you’re selling or giving away your Mac to someone else.

Here’s how to factory reset your Mac, which will erase all your personal data, including a few tips in case it doesn’t work.

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

MacBook Pro (From $1,299.99 at Best Buy)

How to wipe a Mac computer with a factory reset

Before anything, if you don’t want to lose the files you have saved on your computer, you should back them up. You can do this through Time Machine , Apple’s official backup application, which will copy all your files onto an external drive. You can also backup onto iCloud, or manually move the files you want to save onto an external drive.

If you’re giving your computer away, also make sure that you’ve signed out of iTunes, iCloud, and iMessage — there’s a chance your Apple ID data will remain on the drive after you reset it, and you don’t want anyone gaining access to your account.

Once you’re ready to wipe your Mac, do the following:

1. Turn your Mac computer off.

2. Press the power button to turn it on, then immediately press and hold Command (⌘) + R. Keep holding it until you see either the Apple logo, or an animation of a spinning globe.

3. After a few moments, the macOS Utilities window should appear — this is known as Recovery Mode.

4. Select “Disk Utility” and click “Continue.”

5. In the menu bar at the top of the screen, select View > Show All Devices.

6. In Disk Utility’s sidebar, which displays all the currently installed disks and volumes, select the drive you want to erase. Although you can erase whatever you like, in most cases, it’s best to erase the whole disk — the tab highest up in the tree.

7. Click the “Erase” button at the top of the screen, and fill out the fields it opens:

  • Fill in a name for the disk. It’s a good idea to just copy the name that already exists, for clarity’s sake.
  • Choose the format. Disk Utility will choose a compatible format by default. If you’re erasing your disk before installing macOS High Sierra or later for the first time, will be using the disk with a Mac that isn’t using High Sierra or later, or are going to use the disk as a Time Machine backup, choose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled).”
  • If shown, choose the scheme. In almost all cases, you should choose GUID Partition Map.

8. Click “Erase.”

9. It will take a few moments for the disk to erase. Once it’s done, click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the screen, and click “Quit Disk Utility.”

At this point, if you’re just trying to erase your disk, you’re done. If you want to set things back up, however, you can navigate back to the macOS Utilities menu and select either:

  • “Restore From Time Machine Backup,” which will restore your files if you used Time Machine to back them up.
  • “Reinstall macOS,” which will install a new copy of macOS onto your system.

What if my computer won’t boot into Recovery Mode?

There’s a chance that when you start your computer holding down Command (⌘) + R, it will simply boot up normally and proceed right to your login screen, or just a blank screen. If this is the case, there’s a chance that you may not have a Recovery Partition — the part of your disk that allows you to factory reset. Here’s how to check if you have one:

  1. Open Terminal by searching for it in Spotlight or Finder.
  2. Type “diskutil list” and press Return.
  3. Terminal will show you all the volumes and partitions on your disk. The first section (called “/dev/disk0”) should have a partition called “Apple_Boot Recovery HD.”

If it doesn’t have that partition, chances are that you don’t have a Recovery Partition.

At this point, there’s a few different steps you can take. You can try resetting your Mac through Internet Recovery — press and hold Command (⌘) + Option + R — which will connect to the internet to create a Recovery Partition and activate Recovery Mode. Not having a Recovery Partition isn’t a good sign for your system, so it’s worth trying to reinstall your macOS, even if you weren’t originally planning on it.

If this doesn’t work either, you should contact Apple directly, or consider using third-party applications designed to create Recovery Partitions.

When Gmail showed up in 2004 with its overwhelmingly generous 1GB of free space for everyone, we never thought we’d have to delete an email again—but even though that free space is now 15 times what it once was, email is more burdensome than ever.

It’s not really the available space that’s the problem in Gmail; it’s the sheer number of unread, unnecessary, and unsolicited emails clogging up the archives. Checking the inbox becomes depressing, running a useful search becomes nearly impossible, and systems of labels that once made sense have long since been abandoned.

It’s time to cut your losses, so here’s how you can start again from the beginning, and do better next time.

Deleting messages

The first step is to delete everything in your Gmail account. Now, we can’t be held responsible if you erase a message you later realize you actually needed to hang on to, so proceed at your own risk—if you want to make a backup of your emails first, use Google’s comprehensive export tool to get your emails out—though that’s really just delaying the inevitable and necessary purge.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Privacy protection
We all need privacy, especially online. Your IP address and your browsing should be hidden from unecessary surveillance. Rest assured that PIA’s virtual private network never keeps any usage logs—ever.

You can also forward the most useful messages out to another account (your starred messages and emails to and from the most important people in your life might be good places to check) or use Gmail’s POP/IMAP features to get your emails downloaded to a desktop client for safe keeping—Google has full instructions as to how to enable and use them here and here .

As for deleting all your messages, well that’s actually scarily simple: Go to the All Mail page , place a tick in the selection box to the top left, and when you see the Select all. message at the top, click it. Then click the trashcan icon at the top of the message list and in a few seconds all of your Gmail history will be gone.

Well, gone to the Trash folder anyway. If you don’t want to wait around for messages to auto-expire, you can go to the Trash and click Empty Trash now and then OK. You might want to visit the Spam folder as well, just to make sure absolutely everything’s gone. With any luck, you might experience a minute or two of peace before your inbox starts filling up again.

Erasing contacts

Gmail’s eagerness to make it simple for you to email your contacts is helpful sometimes, but it creates an unsightly mess in your contacts list if you’re not careful. People you only ever emailed once ten years ago can suddenly show up as contacts on your Android phone for no reason (we’ve seen it happen). For the most comprehensive email detox, you want to get rid of your contacts as well.

This is trickier to do, because as we’ve mentioned, your contacts sync across multiple Google services, like Android. Ideally we want to trim down any useless email addresses while keeping the important ones and without deleting anyone’s phone number along the way, and Google doesn’t really make this particularly easy to do.

A good place to start from the Contacts page is the Other Contacts category under the More heading—people that might pop up as suggestions when you’re typing out email addresses, but who you haven’t specifically added as contacts. As with emails, you can use the checkboxes on the left to select people, then click More (the three dots) and Delete contacts. You can also do some tidying by checking the Duplicates tab and seeing if any contacts can be merged.

If you have an Android phone, you’ve got another approach to try—open the Google Contacts app, tap Suggestions from the main menu, and you should get an option to remove junk contacts Google has spotted. After that it’s probably worth a manual purge through your main contacts list—be ruthless—and if you want to stop contacts from being automatically added in the future, go to the General tab of your Gmail settings and choose I’ll add contacts myself under the Create contacts for auto-complete heading.

Starting again

With a fresh new inbox and purged contact list to enjoy, it’s time to think about making sure your Gmail account never gets clogged up again. Being careful about who has your email address is a good start, though admittedly it might be too late for that—starting again with a new Google account is an option, and you can always get messages from your old account forwarded if you want (look under Forwarding and POP/IMAP in the Gmail settings screen).

As we’ve mentioned before , dots don’t make a difference in Gmail addresses, so emails sent to [email protected] and [email protected] go to the same inbox. Insert a dot into your address whenever you sign up for less important apps and services, and you can filter messages from all these places (e.g. emails sent to [email protected] rather than [email protected])—tell Gmail to mark them as read and archive or delete them immediately for a less busy inbox.

Another idea is to regularly trash all your emails once they’re more than a few months old. Type “older_than:1y” in the Gmail search box to find messages sent more than a year ago, for example, or “older_than:6m” to change the time frame to six months. These emails can then be selected and deleted, but if you’re worried about getting rid of something important, add “is:unimportant” to your search.

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How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Amy Dennis

May 20, 2022 • Filed to: Recover Files • Proven solutions

It is seen that you empty or clear a DVD or CD if you want to delete the existing content on it or simply when you are going to burn new data to it. In both cases, you should erase data from CD or DVD before formatting the disk. After erasing and formatting, your disk will be ready to reuse. The formatting process is very simple and easy. Here in this article, you will be shown how to carry it out step by step. One thing you should note that the DVD or CD should be rewritable. You might know that in rewritable disks, you can rewrite the data several times.

Part 1: How to Erase a DVD-RW or CD-RW Disk

While you erase the data either from your computer or from the CD/DVD, you should make sure that the files are deleted permanently. And for permanent removal, you should use Stellar BitRaser for the file. It is a software that can erase folders, files, system traces, application traces, activities over the internet, and even the volume from the systems based on windows. This software or tool does not leave any scope to recover and all the crucial information you want to delete stored on your hard disk in the form of files and folders can be permanently erased. Some of the many main features it offers are:

  • Permanent and ‘beyond the scope for recovery’ removal of files and folders.
  • The traces for installed applications and internet activities is completely erased.
  • The tasks to erase files and folders can be scheduled to the predefined time according to the users’ preference.
  • The tool gives the option to erase data files with a single right-click.
  • The tool offers 17 of the most advanced file erasing algorithms.
  • After the files are deleted from the system, it generates an erase certificate of the deleted files.
  • The versions of Windows supported are Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10 and windows server 2003, 2008, and 2012.
    1. Free download Stellar BitRaser for the file on your computer, and connect your CD to PC.
    2. Launch the eraser software, click the section “Erase Now” to start to erase data from CD.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

  1. Select your CD and click the “Erase Now” button to process.
  2. It will take for a while and you can reboot the system after complete erase.

Tip:В While erasing, the data is removed from your disc in a single pass only but if you do not want to leave any traces and feel that a single pass is not enough to remove data, you can use more passes to completely erase data from CD permanently. Suppose that the data you want to erase is valuable and you do not want to leave any kind of traces, then you can go with three passes to be sure.

More Related Articles:

  • How to Erase a CD in Windows
  • How to Recover Text from Damaged Word File
  • How to Fix Word File Problems with Content Error

Part 2: How to Erase a CD RW on Windows

The above tool helps you to erase the data of CD on most operating systems. Now, below are the few steps mentioned which emphasize especially on the data removal from a CD RW disc on Windows.

  1. Firstly, you should insert the CD into your computer’s disc tray labeled side up.
  2. Now on the desktop window of your computer, click the start button (having windows logo) placed on the bottom-left corner of the screen.
  3. Then move your cursor towards folder shaped icon placed on the lower-left side of the Start window. It is the icon of the file explorer. Click on it and file explorer will open on your screen.
  4. In the file explorer window, click on “This PC”. The icon for “This PC” is computer-shaped and is placed on the left side of the File Explorer window. If it is not visible, scroll the left side of the navigation pane up or down. You will find it there.
  5. In this window, all the drives along with internal and external removable disk drives will be shown. From all those, you should choose the CD/DVD drive. It is an icon with a grey colored hard drive and a CD behind it.
  6. Now move your cursor to the upper left side of the window and click on the manage tab. It is below the “uninstall or change a program” and “system properties” tabs on the ribbon. When you click on the manage tab, a toolbar will appear below it.
  7. On the media section of this toolbar, click on “erase this disc” option. After clicking a wizard window will appear.
  8. In this wizard window, you will see that the “next” button is present at the bottom-right corner. The moment you click on it, the CD will begin to be erased.
  9. Your CD will start erasing. You can wait for your CD to finish erasing. The erasing progress can be tracked by observing the bar at the center of the window.
  10. After that, you will be prompted to click the finish button placed on the bottom right corner of the window. Click it and your data will be erased from the CD.

So, these are the simple steps to erase the data from CD. There is some DVD eraser software available in the market which is meant especially to erase data from the CD or DVD and there is some big utility software that has a DVD eraser as a sub-function. One such software is BitRaser for the file which has several functions to erase data from different locations on your computer. It is a tool that is very easy to use and has many algorithms to erase the data permanently leaving no traces behind.

Moreover, Windows provide you the option to erase the data from your CD-RW or DVD-RW by following some simple steps. This way your CD or DVD is ready to be used again for writing data.

Here is how to wipe your personal data from a mobile device the right way before trading up to a new model.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Principal Video Producer

Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She’s won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Trading in or selling your old mobile device? Wipe it the right way to reduce the risk of personal data falling into the wrong hands.

Remember that no method apart from physically destroying the device and its storage is 100 percent foolproof — data may still be recoverable with the right tools.

These tips are for the three main mobile operating systems, but if you have an older phone or an alternate OS, check the manual for full details on how to wipe your device.

Before you start:

  • Back up all your data, including contacts.
  • Remember to remove the SIM card and any external storage such as a microSD card.
  • Log out of services like email and social media, then clear the data from these apps if you can.
  • Perform a separate encryption and wipe of data on the microSD card as well if you don’t plan to use the card in a new device.
  • Keep the serial number of the phone or tablet on file for your records.

Android

If the phone or tablet runs 5.0 Lollipop or later it may have Android device protection or factory reset protection (FRP) active. This feature makes the phone unusable by a new owner if it’s been reset because they can’t activate it without entering a previously used Google account and password.

You’ll need to deactivate FRP if you plan to sell the device or transfer to another owner.

Skip straight to step 4 if you have a device running an earlier version of Android without FRP.

Step 1: First, turn off any screen locks. Go to Settings > Security or Lock Screen Security > Screen Lock and change the type to None.

Step 2: Remove your Google account from the device. Go to Settings > Users and Accounts, tap your account and then remove.

Step 3: If you have a Samsung device, remove your Samsung account from the phone or tablet as well.

Step 4: Now you can wipe the device with a factory reset. However, this often only clears data at the application level , and other information such as SMS and chat messages can be restored with some standard data recovery tools.

Here is a full rundown on how to effectively wipe data on your Android phone or tablet, which begins with encrypting your device first through the Settings menu.

You won’t need any special tools, just a bit more patience than it takes to simply press the restore option within the settings. Note: devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or above may be encrypted by default.

Apple devices that support iOS 5 or later include hardware encryption when you set a passcode. If you perform a wipe using the method below, the encryption key is also overwritten, which makes it very difficult for anyone who wants to recover the data.

Step 1: Before starting the reset process, make sure to unpair devices like the Apple Watch ($199 at Best Buy) . Then, turn off Find My iPhone ($189 at Amazon) . For iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone. Enter your Apple ID password if prompted. For iOS 10.3 or later, go to Settings > Your name > iCloud > Find My iPhone.

Step 2: Turn off and sign out of other services including iMessage and the App Store. Go to Settings > Messages > toggle the iMessage option. For your Apple ID, go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > tap your Apple ID email address and then tap Sign Out.

For added peace of mind you may also want to sign out individually from any other linked services and apps, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Step 3: Sign out of iCloud completely. Head to Settings > iCloud and find Sign Out at the bottom of the page. For iOS 10.3 and later, Settings > Your name > Sign Out. For iOS 7 devices, choose Delete Account.

Note: if you delete all your data manually without signing out of iCloud, it will also delete the content from iCloud as well — which is something you definitely don’t want.

Step 4: Start the wipe process. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Confirm the selection.

Step 5: Remove the serial number of the device from your Apple account profile at appleid.apple.com.

Windows Phone

Windows Phone only offers encryption for business customers. The easiest way to wipe a Windows Phone 7, 8 or 8.1, or Windows 10 Mobile device is to perform a factory reset and then load dummy data to overwrite traces of the original data.

Step 1: Open up Settings > About > Reset Your Phone.

Step 2: Confirm the action and then wait for the phone to wipe.

Step 3: Connect the phone to a PC and open My Computer. If you are connecting via Mac, download the Windows Phone app. Find the phone, which should show up as a removable device, and open it.

Step 4: Load dummy data onto the phone by dragging and dropping from another folder. Don’t use your personal photos or documents here; instead choose files that contain no identifiable metadata that could be traced back to you, such as video or music files. Try and fill the phone with as much dummy data as possible.

Step 5: Reset the phone again using the same method as in step 1. Repeat the dummy data load a few more times to ensure all your original data is overwritten.

Step 6: Perform a final reset.

Log in to your Microsoft account at account.microsoft.com/devices and find the phone you just wiped. Remove it from your account.

Final steps

Once the wipe is complete, remember to also revoke access to the phone from services such as Facebook and Google. To remove devices from your Google account, head to myaccount.google.com, click on Sign-in & security > Device activity & notifications and find the model you have wiped.

Not planning to sell?

Consider destroying the device altogether to make it incredibly difficult for anyone to access residual data. David Zimmerman from LC Technology suggests drilling through the device. “Go completely through the phone in several locations, including the charging input, and then drop it off at an electronics recycling receptacle,” he says.

Another method includes putting the device inside a bag and using a sledgehammer to break it into pieces that are no bigger than half an inch. Or for the most extreme case, “use an industrial-strength grinder to turn the phone into dust,” he says.

You may need to reinstall Windows in some situations. Here will how to wipe a hard drive from BIOS for reinstallation or other purposes.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

By Cherry How to wipe clean a computer and start over / Last Updated March 17, 2022

Why need to wipe a hard drive from BIOS?

“Can’t use Windows 7. I need to completely erase my 2 HDDs, not just format them. Need to do it in BIOS, but can’t find any menu that leads to that kind of stuff. Also, need to clear BIOS with move that small pin on the motherboard. Want to do this to make my HDDs new like it was when I bought them.”

From this Scenario, we learn that the user wants to wipe a hard drive from BIOS for new Windows installation. In fact, many users want to wipe a hard drive for different using. If you want to give away the hard drive and don’t want to expose the data on it, wiping a hard drive should be the best way to remove data completely from the hard drive. While if there is any problem with your hard drive installed operating system, and you want to use it again, an easy way to wipe hard drive from BIOS is simple for a fresh Windows installation.

It is different between wiping HDD and wiping SSD

To wipe a hard drive means to remove all data on the hard drive including operating system, programs, and files. If you are wiping a data hard drive (without OS installed), you can wipe all data by formatting hard drive partitions. But if you are trying to wipe a system drive, you need to wipe it from the BIOS, because you cannot format the hard drive on which Windows 11/10/8/7 is running.

You may use a solid-state drive (SSD) as the boot drive. When your Windows OS cannot be used normally, you may need to reinstall Windows too. However, SSD is different from HDD, if you use the same way of wiping HDD to wipe SSD, it may decrease its lifespan. The good fortune is, this article will show you how to wipe a hard drive from BIOS and how to secure erase SSD from BIOS separately.

How to wipe a hard drive from BIOS?

If you need to format a disk and you can’t do it within Windows 11/10, you can make use of third-party software to create a bootable CD, DVD, or USB flash drive, boot from it and then, wipe the hard drive. Here we introduce you AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, which should be the best hard disk wipe tool that allows you to wipe hard drive from BIOS easily and freely.

Before you do, you need to prepare for it: Free download AOMEI Partition Assistant, install and launch it. Prepare a USB drive and use AOMEI Partition Assistant to create a bootable USB. Back up hard drive first because wiping hard dive will erase all data on it.

After that preparation, you can start to wipe the hard drive.

в–¶ Wipe an HDD from BIOS

Step 1. Boot your computer with the bootable USB you created. You will get into the main interface of AOMEI Partition Assistant. Right click the hard drive you want to wipe. Select Wipe Hard Drive.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Step 2. It will pop up a window where listing the wiping methods. The first option is enough for normal wiping. To use more advanced options, please upgrade to Professional edition.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Important: Deleting system drive will cause computer unbootable. Make sure you are aware of this.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Step 3. Then you will back to the main interface, click Apply to submit the operations.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Thus, you have already wiped a hard drive. However, you can’t use the same way to wipe a solid-state drive (SSD) because it would hurt the SSD. The next content is about how to secure erase SSD with AOMEI Partition Assistant.

в–¶ Securely erase SSD

If you want to securely erase SSD, you need to upgrade AOMEI Partition Assistant to Pro version, which can help erase all data on the SSD and restore it to the factory settings, and restore SSD performance. But it cannot work secure erase SSD from BIOS at present. If you need to secure erase an SSD, you can plug it into a Windows 7 computer and start to erase SSD permanently without hurting it.

Step 1. Connect the SSD to your Windows 7 device. Launch AOMEI Partition Assistant Pro. Click Secure Erase SSD Wizard at the left pane. If you have any important data on the SSD, back up SSD first since this operation will delete and erase all data on the SSD, and then, click Next.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Step 2. Then, you can select the SSD that need to be erased.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Step 3. It will remind you that your SSD in a frozen state. Then, you need to do a hot swap for relieving it.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

How to perform Hot-swap:

1) Open your computer case. If it is a laptop, open the computer’s rear cover or drive shell.

2) Located the SSD that needs to be securely erased.

3) Unplug the power cable from the SSD.

4) Disconnect the SATA data cable from the SSD.

5) Reconnect the SATA cable to the SATA port on the SSD.

6) Finally, plug the power cable back into the SSD’s power connector.

Step 4. After that, you can continue to secure erase SSD by clicking Next. Wait till the SSD has been erased successfully.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Summary

Those are the steps for how to wipe a hard drive from BIOS. No matter wipe HDD or secure erase SSD, AOMEI Partition Assistant would do the best job. Actually, AOMEI Partition Assistant is more than a wipe hard drive tool. Besides wiping hard drive, it can also help you initialize disk, format partition, delete partition, and do many other things to manage your HDD/SSD in the best status.

by Nik · December 26, 2017

One of our users reported that he is unable to completely delete a user profile from his Windows 10 OS. They say that when they delete user accounts using Accounts feature, those accounts reappear once the computer is restarted.

Users can be created, modified or deleted using GUI or using command prompt / PowerShell commands. In this article, we will cover the Windows 10 GUI process to create and delete a user account completely from the system.

Right-Click on Start (Windows Logo) and select Settings from the list.
Click on Accounts | Family or other people | Add someone else to this PC

For this purpose, we will create a local account instead of a user with a Microsoft account.
In the How will this person sign-in click I don’t have this person’s sign-in information and then Add a user without a Microsoft account.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Now you are able to modify user change account type of the user (Standard vs Administrator) or you can remove this account and its profile folder.

You can also manage user accounts in an old-fashion way that’s still the best way and that I would recommend over this fancy Microsoft GUI way.

Right-click on Start (Windows Logo) and select Computer Management
In the left pane navigate to Local Users and Groups

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

In the right pane double-click Users and here you can manage users more easily. Please have in mind that using Computer Management you won’t be able to create a new user account that uses Microsoft account. For that purpose please use the Accounts panel from the beginning of this article.

In order to completely delete the user account and its profile please do the following:

Delete the user by choosing the Remove button from the Accounts panel.
Open Computer Management, navigate to Users and check if the user has been deleted. If not, delete the user from Computer Management.
Open Registry editor (regedit) and navigate to: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList”.
Expand the ProfileList folder and search for accounts with long identifiers as in the picture below

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Once you select the folder in the ProfileList, in the right pane look for “ProfileImagePath” key and see the user account that this registry key refers to. If there’s a key for the user account that has been deleted, you can safely delete that key.

If you’ll still have issues with deleting user accounts on Windows 10, please post below and I’ll try to help.

Jean wants to delete her Facebook account, as does Alban, but he can’t remember his email address or password. Suzette also wants to delete her Facebook account so she can start again with a new one

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Consider deactivating your account rather than deleting it Photograph: Anatolii Babii / Alamy/Alamy

Consider deactivating your account rather than deleting it Photograph: Anatolii Babii / Alamy/Alamy

I deleted the Facebook app on my phone. However, friends can still see my page. I want everything permanently deleted. How can I do this? Jean

Facebook is a website, and all the data for your page is stored on various Facebook servers in giant data centres. It is not stored on your PC or on your phone: they are just ways to access it online.

To delete your Facebook page, you must log on to your account, then go to the “Delete my account” page at facebook.com/help/delete_account and click the big blue button.

The Facebook help page says: “When you delete your account, people won’t be able to see it on Facebook. It may take up to 90 days to delete all of the things you’ve posted, like your photos, status updates or other data stored in backup systems. While we are deleting this information, it is inaccessible to other people using Facebook.” If you change your mind and log on later, you will be offered the chance to reactivate your account, but some or all of your data may have been deleted.

Before you delete your Facebook page, it’s a good idea to download a copy of your data. To do this, click the downward-facing triangle and select Settings from the drop-down menu. When the page loads, click the text that says “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” Facebook will email you when your data is ready to download.

Otherwise, consider deactivating your account rather than deleting it. The effect is exactly the same as far as your friends are concerned: you and your data disappear from Facebook. However, you can re-activate your account if you change your mind.

No email address, no password

I don’t remember my email address and Facebook password. How can I close my account? Alban

You can’t easily close an account unless you can log on to it. But how many email addresses do you have? Too many to try them all?

Go to the “Find Your Account” page at https://www.facebook.com/login/identify and try entering the email addresses and/or phone numbers you usually use, your user name or your full name and search for your account.

If you can’t find it, get a Facebook friend or family member to help. Ask them to go to your Facebook page, click on About and look for your email address under “Contact Information”. If you didn’t make your email address visible, ask them to send you the internet address (the URL) of your page. This will tell you your username, which you can enter in the “Find Your Account” page.

For example, if your user name was John Doe, then your Facebook page would probably be at https://www.facebook.com/John.Doe

There is a way to delete an account that you can’t access, but you have to create a new Facebook account to do it. In this case, navigate to your old account and Report/Block it. Next, choose “This is my old profile” and then “Close this account”. Facebook says: “the profile will be reviewed and deactivated after we’re able to verify that it’s your old account”.

There is no way to merge two accounts.

People who are likely to forget their names, passwords and email addresses should add one or more “trusted contacts”. To do this, go to the Settings page, select Security (on the left) and then click on “Trusted Contacts”. This allows you to choose from three to five people – unfortunately, three is the minimum. If you ever have a problem accessing your account, you can ask for a security code to be sent to a trusted friend. They pass the code to you so that you can use it to access your account.

Making a fresh start

I want to delete my Facebook account because there are lots of things on it. I want to start with a nice clean Facebook page. Suzette

Your Facebook account is tied to your email address and/or phone number, not your real name, because there may be hundreds or thousands of people with exactly the same name. You must therefore think carefully about which email address and/or phone number you want to use in future. Remember, you cannot use the same ones, because Facebook will reactivate your old account, instead of creating a new one.

Before you delete your account, get a back-up of your data, as described above. After that, go to your account settings and change the key entries to something you don’t want. It’s most important to change your email address to another working email address – you can create one for the purpose. You can also change your real name, your user name, and possibly your password. (Changing your password will stop your smartphone and tablet apps from logging in.)

The settings for “Account security” may also contain a list of “registered devices” that are associated with your account. You may want to remove those as well.

Remember, when you create a new account, Facebook will do its best to reactivate your old account, based on whatever data was in the old account.

Note that when you delete your old account, you will lose all your friends, photos, messages, comments, favourites, games and other data. You will also lose access to user groups and so on. Make sure you keep a record of everything you want to get back.

Also, tell your important friends that you intend to delete your old Facebook account and create a new one. If you don’t, they may think you are being impersonated by a scammer and report you. If they have already confirmed that you are a friend, they won’t expect to get another friend request, unless you warn them.

If you do all this, then you should eventually be able to create a new account, with your preferred email address and user name. I wouldn’t expect this to work until your old information has been flushed from Facebook’s system. That could take about two weeks, but it might take a month or more.

You could, of course, create a new account and then Report/Block the old account, as described above. However, I prefer my method. First, it’s against Facebook’s terms and conditions to create more than one personal account. Second, you would not be able to create a new account with your old user name and email address. Third, you’d have to rely on Facebook to verify and deactivate the old account, instead of being able to do it yourself.

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]efore buying a new computer, we choose to donate, recycle or sell the old one. However, before lending your computer to any other hand, we need to take care of a few things like our personal data, apps, etc. So, it’s always a good time to know how to factory reset any old computer. Here’s how you can remove all of your data from the computer.

How To Remove All Of Your Personal Data From Computer

Well, if we look around, we will find that almost every other day someone purchases a new computer. Before buying a new computer, we choose to donate, recycle or sell the old one. However, before lending your computer to any other hand, we need to take care of a few things like our personal data, apps, etc.

We are in so hurry to purchase a new computer that we forgot to clean the old one properly. These things can create lots of privacy and security hazards. Just think once what if the computer that you have just sold to someone has your banking details like login credentials, passwords, etc?

So, it’s always a good time to know how to factory reset any old computer. It doesn’t matter if you are using Windows, Linux, or MacOS, the Factory reset option is available on every OS with different names. So, in this article, we are about to discuss how to remove all of your data from the computer.

What are the benefits?

Well, its worth to note that to wipe a hard drive means to erase each and every piece of information that’s stored on the drive. Factory reset or the restore option on the various operating system doesn’t wipe a hard drive. It just removes the apps and personal data that you have stored after the OS installation.

So, it will remove all those apps, saved passwords, text files, and almost everything that you see on your desktop. Whereas formatting the computer removes everything including the old OS. Formatting needs a fresh installation of the OS, whereas the system reset doesn’t.

Moreover, the Resetting, restoring, or Factory reset can also help to eliminate issues with computer software, drivers, corrupted files, malware infections, etc. So, let’s know how to wipe all data from the computer.

How To Wipe Your Hard Drive Before Selling Your Computer

#1 Windows

Well, removing personal data from Windows computer is an easy process. But, you need to consider a few things before you begin the factory reset process. If you are doing the complete system reset to fix different computer issues, then you need to create a proper backup. Since the process removes all files and folders, it’s essential to back up all files on other computer or external hard drive.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over Windows

For Windows 10, Open the Start Menu and then search for ‘Update & Security’. Under the Update & Security Menu, click on the Recovery option. Now under the Recovery menu, you need to click on ‘Reset this PC’. On the next window, you need to choose Get Start and follow the on-screen instructions to revert your computer back to the previous state.

#2 Apple

Just like Windows Users, Apple users also need to create a proper backup before performing the factory reset. Apple users can back up their important files to an external drive or on the cloud storage. However, make sure to disable the iCloud features after backing up the files and folders.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over Apple

Now you need to restart your computer and during the startup, press the Shift + Option + Command + R keys until the Apple logo appears. The key combination will force your computer to reinstall the operating system and revert your computer back to when it was first unboxed.

Now you will get to see a popup window where you need to open the Disk Utility. Now on the Disk Utility, find and erase your built-in hard disk. Now select the MacOS Extended (Journaled) format. Now, wait until the Disk Utility finishes the reset process. Once done, quick the Disk Utility.

#3 Chromebook User

Well, Chromebook users don’t need to do much before wiping their computer. Since most of the files are already stored online on Google Drive. So, there’s no need to back up. However, if you think that you have some file that you need to back up, then do it before you factory reset your laptop or computer.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over Chromebook

Chromebook users need to click on the photo shown on the account. Now open the Settings and scroll down to the ‘Advanced’ section. Now, under the Advanced Section, find Powerwash and click on the icon. Now your computer will restart and will remove all your personal data.

So, this is how you can wipe all data from the computer. Since Apple, Windows, and Chromebook is the most used operating system, we have listed the factory reset process of the three. If you have any other doubts, then make sure to discuss with us in the comments.

How to wipe clean a computer and start over

Infopackets Reader Mike J. writes:

Thanks for your article on ‘cannot start outlook, cannot open window’. I have a similar problem. I recently had to format my machine and reinstall Windows 10, then reinstall Office 365. I’m now at the part where I want to set up my email account with Outlook, but I’ve made a huge mistake during the setup: I told Outlook that my email address is associated with a Microsoft Exchange server instead of IMAP. Now I can’t undo the changes!

Here’s what’s happening: when I try to launch Outlook, it keeps asking for my login credentials repeatedly and I simply cannot get passed it. What’s worse is that Outlook won’t let me delete the Microsoft Exchange account because it says I need to have another account as the default account and I don’t have any other email addresses to use! Furthermore, I can’t specify IMAP on the existing account because there is no option to do so. I’ve also tried adding a new account using the same email address, but Outlook says that this is a duplicate account and I can’t continue on. I’ve tried deleting the data file associated with my email address but it won’t let me do that either!

Unbelievable! All I want to do is reset Outlook and start over from scratch and create a brand new user profile, but there is NO option to do that. I’ve read many guides online that say you can delete the existing account and add a new one, but – believe me – Outlook will not let me, no matter how hard I try. How in the world am I supposed reset Outlook and start over like a new installation? “

I asked Mike if he would like me to connect to his machine using my remote desktop support service in order to have a closer look at the problem.

Below I will discuss my findings.

How to Fix: Reset Outlook, Start Over (New Install)

After much research on the subject, the only way I could get this to work is through a registry edit. The great thing about this method is that it doesn’t require an MS Office DVD or installation file in order to continue. Some posts I came across suggested uninstalling and reinstalling MS Office to fix the problem (which would require the DVD or install file), but chances are that a reinstall would not remove your old Outlook user profile because this information would most likely remain in the registry.

The script below will kill the Outlook task if it’s running, make a backup of your Outlook settings (in case you need to get it back for some reason), then reset Outlook to factory settings allowing you to start over and create a new profile. Note that I tested this script with Office 365 but it should work with all other versions of Outlook.

  1. Click Start, then type in “cmd” (no quotes); wait for “CMD.EXE” or “Command Prompt” to appear in this list, then right click it and select “Run as Administrator”.
  2. Use the text below to highlight it with your mouse:

taskkill /f /im outlook.exe
ping -n 5 localhost >nul
reg copy HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office.bak /s /f
reg delete HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office /f
echo this is a dummy line

  • Right click the above highlighted text and select “Copy” from the dialogue menu.
  • Go to the command prompt window you opened up in Step #1 above, and right click in the middle of the window and select “Paste”. The text you copied in Step #2 above should now be output to the command line, and Outlook will be reset.
  • Launch Outlook from the Start menu and it should ask you to set up a new user profile.
  • That should fix it!

    How to Undo the Outlook Reset

    If you need to get your old user profile(s) back and you want to undo the reset, follow these instructions:

    1. Click Start, then type in “cmd” (no quotes); wait for “CMD.EXE” or “Command Prompt” to appear in this list, then right click it and select “Run as Administrator”.
    2. Use the text below to highlight it with your mouse:

    taskkill /f /im outlook.exe
    ping -n 5 localhost >nul
    reg query HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office.bak >nul
    if %ERRORLEVEL% EQU 0 reg delete HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office /f
    reg copy HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office.bak HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office /s /f
    reg delete HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office.bak /f
    echo this is a dummy line

  • Right click the above highlighted text and select “Copy” from the dialogue menu.
  • Go to the command prompt window you opened up in Step #1 above, and right click in the middle of the window and select “Paste”. The text you copied in Step #2 above should now be output to the command line, and Outlook will be reset.
  • Launch Outlook from the Start menu and it should ask you to set up a new user profile.
  • I hope that helps.

    Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

    If all of this is over your head, or if you need help getting Outlook to work, I can help using my remote desktop support service. Simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

    • Please log in to reply

    #1

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  • I’ve been playing skyrim for a long time, and I’ve accumulated lots of mods, but due to nexus and the steam workshop, I never learned to manually install mods. In turn, I have no clue how to remove mods completely, using the data files or whatever it is you have to delete in order to remove mods. My game crashes after five/ten minutes of gameplay, and I just want to delete all my mods and start over. Help?

    #2

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  • Easiest way is delete Skyrim folder. Reinstall

    #3

    Thorn in your side.

  • How to wipe clean a computer and start over
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  • The easiest way is simply to locate the “Skyrim” folder in your Steamapps folder and delete it, then have steam reinstall the game, updates and DLC’s.

    You can also make a backup of your Skyrim.esm, Updates.esm and any DLC esm’s, as well as the base meshes and textures BSA’s and any DLC BSA’s to a separate location – then delete everything in your Skyrim folder. Then move the backed up files to the folder. Then have steam verify the files and reinstall anything you missed. The second way takes a bit less time if you have an unstable net connection and/or don’t want to download everything from steam again.

    #4

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  • When you’re encountering some problems you can’t fix, resetting PC worth a try. It is proved to be very useful in repairing computer (solving system issues). This post provided by MiniTool Solution will introduce 3 ways to help people reset their HP laptop. You should follow these methods and steps carefully to avoid mistakes.

    Reset HP Laptop in 3 Different Ways

    Reset PC means to clear information and configuration on your computer. This is very helpful in fixing problems when your computer isn’t working well. If you want to reset HP laptop in order to solve various system issues, but don’t know how, you should follow the guide provided in the following content.

    Factory Reset HP Laptop

    Factory reset is a useful method for restoring any electronic devices to the original state (factory settings). How to factory reset HP laptop? It depends.

    • If you can log into HP normally, please use the Settings to factory reset HP laptop.
    • If you can’t access HP laptop, you should complete the reset through Windows Recovery Environment.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    You should know that if you find the short DST is failed, it means the hard disk cannot pass Disk Self Test due to some problems found on the disk.

    Reset HP Laptop via Windows Settings

    1. Press Windows + I to open the Settings app.
    2. Scroll down to the bottom to select Update & Security.
    3. Choose Recovery option in the left sidebar.
    4. Look for the Reset this PC section under Recovery in the right pane.
    5. Click on the Get started button under Reset this PC.
    6. Windows will be restarted to the Choose an option window.
    7. You may select Keep my files -> click Next -> click Reset.
    8. You can also select Remove everything-> choose from Only the drive where Windows is installed and All drives -> choose from Just remove my files and Remove files and clean the drive -> click Reset.
    9. Wait for the process to complete.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    Perform a System Reset through Windows Recovery Environment

    How to reset HP laptop in Windows Recovery Environment:

    1. Remove all external devices including USB drives and printers from the HP laptop.
    2. Turn on your computer and press the F11 key immediately and repeatedly.
    3. Release the key until you see the Choose an option window.
    4. Select Troubleshoot and then click Reset this PC.
    5. Choose from Cloud download and Local reinstall. (Optional)
    6. Choose from Keep my files and Remove everything.
    7. Then, follow the on-screen instructions to reset HP laptop to factory settings.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    Hard Reset HP Laptop

    What is hard reset?

    A hard reset, also known as power reset, refers to the action of clearing all information from the computer’s memory. If you are encountering one of these problems: Windows not responding, a blank display, software freezing, keyboard stops responding, or other external devices locking up, you should try the power reset/hard reset.

    Does a hard reset erase everything on HP laptop? Of course, not; it only removes the memory data, which means your personal data will keep intact.

    How to hard reset HP laptop?

    Steps to reset laptop with a removable battery:

    1. Make sure all the peripheral devices (including USB drive, external display, printer, and even power supply) are disconnected or removed.
    2. Power down your HP laptop.
    3. Turn it over & look for the battery compartment cover.
    4. Remove the screws with the screwdriver to take off the cover.
    5. Take out the battery gently.
    6. Press & hold the Power button for at least 15 seconds to drain residual electrical charge.
    7. Insert the battery correctly -> put back the cover -> tighten the screws.
    8. Press the Power button to reboot HP laptop.
    9. Select Start Windows Normally & hit Enter if you see a startup menu.
    10. Reconnect the peripheral devices to HP laptop one by one after successful startup.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    The steps to reset laptop with a non-removable/sealed battery are basically the same expect that you don’t need to take off the cover, take out the battery, re-insert the battery, and put back the cover. Meanwhile, the laptop repair & recovery steps are similar.

    Plex is one of the most popular media streaming services. Unlike typical on-demand streaming services, Plex organizes users’ own collections and streams them via media players. The program turns your computer into a server and streams your chosen content.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    If you have old or unavailable servers on your Plex Media Server, you’ll want to delete them to ensure smooth operation. This article will explain how to delete old Plex servers to prevent lag.

    How to Delete a Plex Server

    There are numerous reasons why one would consider deleting a Plex server.

    For example, you may have moved your content from an old server to a new one. If, at any point, the two servers were running simultaneously on the same network, the new server will identify the old one as a recognized device. Over time, this could cause problems because the new server will constantly look for the old, non-operational server.

    Or, you may come to realize you simply can’t access a particular server. You could also have unnecessary or duplicate servers you don’t want.

    Let’s see how to delete a Plex server using numerous devices.

    How to Delete a Plex Server on a PC

    Removing a server is done through the program and only takes a few steps. While none of the media files on your computer will be deleted, remember that you’ll lose access to all libraries on that server.

    Here’s how to delete a Plex server on your PC:

    1. Launch Plex on your computer.
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    2. Press the settings icon.
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    3. Select “Authorized Devices” at the left side. You’ll see a list of all devices connected to your server.
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    4. Choose “Server” from the drop down menu.
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    5. Locate the server you wish to remove and press the red “x” in the top-right corner.
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    6. You’ll see a prompt informing you that you’ll lose syncs and shares connected to the server. Press “Remove.”
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    Tip: Since you can have multiple similar servers, pay attention to which one you’re removing. Use the server’s name and operating system to confirm you’re removing the right one.

    How to Delete a Plex Server on a Mac

    Besides Windows, Plex is also available on Macs. In fact, Plex was originally designed for Mac computers back in 2007.

    If you want to delete a Plex server using your Mac, follow the instructions below:

    It may take a few minutes before the server is removed. We recommend refreshing the client after the process is completed.

    1. Open Plex on your Mac device.
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    2. Select the settings icon.
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    3. Choose “Authorized Devices” at the top-right corner of the page. That way, you’ll access all devices connected to your servers.
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    4. Select “Server” from the drop down menu to filter the list of devices.
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    5. Find the server you want to delete and tap the letter “x” at the top-right corner. Before pressing “x,” double-check the server’s name and operating system.
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    6. A message will appear on your screen informing you that all syncs and shares connected to that server will be lost. Select “Remove.”
      How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    7. You’ll see the same message once again. Press “Yes, I’m sure” to confirm.

    How To Delete a Plex Server in Linux

    Many users enjoy Plex on their Linux devices. If you want to learn how to delete a Plex server on Linux, follow the steps below:

    1. Open Plex.
    2. Go to settings.
    3. Select “Devices” at the top-right corner. You’ll see a list of all connected devices.
    4. Press “Server” on the left menu. That way, you’ll narrow down the list of displayed devices.
    5. Locate the server you wish to remove. Since some servers may have a similar name, make sure to double-check its operating system to confirm you’re removing the right one. Press “x” in the top-right corner.
    6. Plex will now display a prompt informing you that syncs and shares related to that server will be lost. Choose “Remove.”
    7. The same message will be displayed again. Select “Yes, I’m sure.”

    As soon as you press “Yes, I’m sure,” you’ll see a progress spinner on your screen. Since the process may take several minutes, don’t exit Plex until it’s completed. After the server has been removed, it may be necessary to refresh the program.

    Additional FAQs

    How to Delete a Plex Library

    Users often wish to delete a Plex library when it begins malfunctioning. By deleting it, you won’t remove the media from the server, but it will make the media unavailable to other clients. Deleting and creating a new library is often simpler than rebuilding the old one.

    Follow these steps to delete a Plex library:

    2. Find the “Libraries” section in the left menu and hover over the one you want to delete. Press the three dots on the right.

    3. Select “Delete.”

    4. A prompt will appear informing you the library will be removed from your server while your media files won’t be affected. Mark the checkbox and press “Delete.”

    The “Delete” button will now turn into a progress spinner. The process could take a few minutes.

    Enjoy Free Content

    Plex enables you to add, share, and access all kinds of media content and offers thousands of on-demand titles and live TV. Although the program features a paid version, all basic Plex functions are free, allowing anyone to enjoy it.

    We hope this article taught you more about Plex and explained when you should consider deleting a server and how to do it.

    Do you often use Plex to stream content? How do you like its features? Tell us in the comments section below.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    The two most common ways to erase a hard drive are by formatting or wiping the drive. We look at both approaches and discuss security issues and techniques.

    Perhaps you have decided to forgo system upgrades and get rid of your computer system and purchase a new one. If you’ve decided to donate your old computer to a charity, local group or school, it’s extremely important to make sure your computer’s hard drive is completely free of data.

    In the “no good deed ever goes unpunished” department, you need to ensure that you don’t donate more than you planned. The last thing you want is to pass on a PC when sensitive business information, or even personal information such as stored passwords, personal documents and credit card numbers that could be retrieved. When you donate a computer, you really don’t know where it may end up or if it will go through the hands of a malicious person with the capability to restore previously recorded and deleted data.

    There are many ways to go about making sure your data can never be retrieved. Obviously, you can choose to physically smash the hard drive, but there are alternatives that enable you to keep the system intact so you can donate a complete system.

    Quick Tip: Wondering what some of the technology words used in this article mean? Click the hyperlinks on computer, Internet and technology words to read Webopedia’s tech term definition.

    In this definition.

    Erasing and Formatting: Just Not Secure Enough

    Simply erasing all the data on your hard drive and formatting it is not enough security. You can spend hours going through your hard drive and deleting all the files and documents you want, but using the delete key on your keyboard in Windows will only remove the shortcuts to the files making them invisible to users. Deleted files still reside on the hard drive and a quick Google search will show many options for system recovery software will allow anyone to reinstate that data.

    Formatting the hard drive is a bit more secure than simply erasing the files. Formatting a disk does not erase the data on the disk, only the address tables. It makes it much more difficult to recover the files. However a computer specialist would be able to recover most or all the data that was on the disk before the reformat.

    For those who accidentally reformat a hard disk, being able to recover most or all the data that was on the disk is a good thing. However, if you’re preparing a system for retirement to charity or any other organization, this obviously makes you more vulnerable to data theft.

    For some businesses and individual users, a disk format may be something you consider secure enough, depending, of course, on the type of data and information you saved to your computer. As long as people understand that formatting is not a 100 percent secure way to completely remove all data from your computer, then they are able to make the choice between formatting and even more secure methods. If you have decided a disk format is a good choice, at the very least to do a full format rather than a quick format.

    Editor’s Recommendation: Need help understanding formatting? This Webopedia “Did You Know…?” technology article provides instruction on how to format a hard drive.

    Disk wiping options (aka “data dump”)

    Even more secure than reformatting is a process called disk wiping (or disk scrubbing). The term disk wiping is not only used in reference to hard drives but any storage device such as CDs, RAIDs, flash drives and other storage devices.

    Disk wiping is a secure method of ensuring that data, including company and individually licensed software on your computer and storage devices is irrecoverably deleted before recycling or donating the equipment. Because previously stored data can be brought back with the right software and applications, the disk wiping process will actually overwrite your entire hard drive with data, several times. Once you format you’ll find it all but impossible to retrieve the data which was on the drive before the overwrite.

    While disk wiping algorithms differ from product to product, they all will generally write the entire disk with a number (zero or one), then a reformat will be needed. The more times the disk is overwritten and formatted the more secure the disk wipe is, but the trade-off is the extra time to perform additional rewrites. Disk wipe applications will typically overwrite the master boot record (MBR), partition table, and every sector of the hard drive.

    For more information on how to dispose of data and/or hardware you can learn more here!

    Disk wiping standards

    The government standard (DoD 5220.22-M), considered a medium security level, specifies three iterations to completely overwrite a hard drive six times. Each iteration makes two write-passes over the entire drive; the first pass inscribes ones (1) over the drive surface and the second inscribes zeros (0) onto the surface. After the third iteration, a government designated code of 246 is written across the drive, then it is verified by a final pass that uses a read-verify process.

    There are a variety of products available for different operating systems that you can purchase, or freely downloaded online to perform more secure disk wipes. If time to perform the disk wipe is a consideration, there are also tech security companies who offer disk wipe services.

    Did You Know… In 2003 two MIT students purchased 158 used disk drives from various locations and found more than 5,000 credit card numbers, medical reports, detailed personal and corporate financial information, and several gigabytes worth of personal e-mail and pornography on those drives.

    UPDATED: This article was updated April 2, 2021 by Web Webster.

    n Microsoft Windows operating system when you want to delete a user account, the user profile will remain in the root directory of Windows. If you want to remove user profile correctly and completely from your system, follow the step by step article until you have deleted the user account and removed a user profile from your system drive and get free your hard disk.

    How to Delete User Account in Windows 10?

    Delete Windows 10 user profile correctly:

    1. Backup user account files.
    2. Delete user account.
    3. Delete User Profile.

    Note: Before deleting Windows 10 user profile, try to backup important data then apply the following article.

    Step 1: In Windows press Windows +R to open the Run and type “lusrmgr.msc” for opening the windows Local user and group manager. The local users and groups manager let you create a user account, delete user account or remove user account and manage users and groups settings.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over Windows 10 Local Users and Groups Manager

    2. Now select the Users to see the existing users on your computer. To delete a user account, right-click the user name and select Delete to delete a user account.

    Note: you can’t remove the built-in administrator of your computer, but you can delete user accounts you have created.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over Delete User Account with Windows Local User and Group Manager

    3. Finally, on the prompt screen, hit Yes button to complete the process to delete Windows 10 user account.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over Are you sure? Do you want to delete user account?

    Now you have deleted user account only, and the user profile remains on the system drive. Let’s remove user profile completely from the system. If the profile remains on the system, it will use disk spaces.

    How to Remove User Profile in Windows 10?

    In step 2, try to delete the remain user account profile from the system drive. To remove a user account profile, you need to have administrator privilege.

    Step 2: Remove User Profile. Type “sysdm.cpl” on Windows Run and press enter to open System Properties.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over Type Sysdm.cpl to open System Properties

    1. When the System Properties opened, select the Advanced tab.
    2. On Advanced tab click Setting under User Profiles. Don’t click Settings under Performance.
    3. Select the user account profile you want to delete it.
    4. Click Delete button and click Yes to accept and remove user profile completely from your system.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over Remove User Profile From Your System Drive

    Now the user account has been deleted successfully and the user profile removed from your system also. Deleting user profile will prevent the system from keeping other deleted user account profiles on your computer.

    How to Delete User Profile in Windows 10? – Video

    This (delete user profile) is going to make us a bit crazy. Some users comment us that have a problem with deleting Windows 10 user profile with above method. I have tested again and created a video to delete a user account profile correctly in Windows 10. In this video tutorial, I have explained two methods to delete the user profile. The first method is the above but the second one is using a DelProf2 app. This app works perfectly in this tutorial.

    Hope this video can help you to delete some corrupted or remove user profile without any issue.

    Let us know if you still have any problem with deleting users profile in Windows 10 or other Windows.

    ‘If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean’
    Ray Kroc

    Why should you keep your PC clean?

    We are pretty sure a computer is an environment that must be kept neat and tidy – otherwise, it may fall apart from neglect. Indeed, junk makes your PC slow, unresponsive, and even vulnerable to multiple threats. Thus, if your machine seems suspiciously sluggish and acts weird, the chances are it is stuffed full of clutter.

    Why does your computer become cluttered?

    But where does that all garbage come from? Surprising though it may sound, your software generates it. The point is, the unwanted programs you delete do not vanish into thin air: their leftovers stay behind and clog your operating system, which turns your computer into a total mess.

    Undoubtedly, such an outcome is undesirable, since your PC is not a rubbish dump. Thus, it is essential to know how to remove apps’ leftovers from your computer. The good news is, you have come to the right place: we will help you declutter your device and skyrocket its performance.
    P.S. If you don’t want to read the full article, you may simply watch a short video showing a quick fix here:

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    Ways how to remove apps’ leftovers from your PC

    To begin with, there are basically two ways to sweep out the software debris from your machine. First, you can use special software to automate the process. Another method is to do the cleaning manually.

    Employ a special tool

    This approach will save you a lot of time and effort, as a thorough clean-up requires skill, precision, and a lot of resources. As such, we recommend you to find a reliable third-party tool for this purpose. For example, you can use Auslogics BoostSpeed: this powerful utility will check your Windows for junk, registry problems, speed-reducing issues, and vulnerabilities, and then it will tweak your OS for maximum performance.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    Wipe software leftovers off your PC manually

    If you want to take matters into your own hands, you are free to clean up your system yourself. Here is our detailed guide on how to delete software leftovers:

    Step 1. Use Control Panel to uninstall a program

    1. Open your Start menu and locate the Control Panel option.
    2. Click on Control Panel. Navigate to Programs.
    3. Click on Programs and Features.
    4. Locate the piece of software you wish to uninstall.How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    5. Click on Uninstall. Wait for the uninstallation process to finish.
    6. Get the all-clear to proceed and exit Control Panel.

    Step 2. Check the Program Files and AppData folders

    1. Press the Windows logo key + S shortcut on your keyboard.
    2. Type %programfiles% into the Search box.
    3. The Program Files folder will open.
    4. See if there are any folders there that have the name of the uninstalled software. Delete such folders.
    5. Insert %appdata% into Search. You will be taken to the AppData folder.
    6. Repeat the step 4 from this list.

    Step 3. Clean your Windows Registry

    Please keep in mind that you should be very careful when modifying your registry, since one false move is enough to cause your system to go haywire. Therefore, we strongly advise you to use a reliable registry care utility. For instance, Auslogics Registry Cleaner is a free tool that will remove all the leftover keys and entries from your system registry so that you can enjoy a noticeably faster computer.

    How to wipe clean a computer and start over

    Nonetheless, if you still wish to edit the registry yourself, make sure to back up all your important data – just in case. Saving your files to an external storage device or migrating them to another computer are among the easiest ways to prevent permanent data loss.

    You should also back up your registry – things do not always go as planned, you know. Here is how you can perform a registry backup:

    1. Press the Windows logo and S keys simultaneously.
    2. Type ‘regedit.exe’ (without quotes) into Search. Then Press Enter.
    3. Once you are in Registry Editor, select what you want to back up.
    4. Click on File. Then select Export.How to wipe clean a computer and start over
    5. You should give your backup file a name.
    6. Choose the location to which you wish to save the file.

    To restore your registry, do the following:

    1. Go to your Registry Editor and click on File.
    2. Select the Import option. Locate and restore your backup file.

    Now it is time to remove unneeded keys from your Windows Registry:

    1. Open your Registry Editor.
    2. Locate the following keys:
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE
    • HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Software
    • If your PC runs a 64-bit version of Windows, you will need to check the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node key as well.
    1. Explore the keys mentioned above and see if you can find any keys with the name of the program you uninstalled. Delete such keys.

    When trying to delete a key in Registry Editor, you may receive the following message: “Cannot delete key: Error while deleting key”. Do not worry, since you can easily tackle this issue. What you need to do is take the ownership of the key in question, and we will show you how to do that:

    1. Right-click on the key you failed to delete and select Permissions.
    2. Then select the Advanced option.
    3. If you are a Windows 7 user:
    • Go to the Owner tab.
    • Locate the ‘Change owner to:’ section and select your username.
    • In addition, check ‘Replace owner on subcontainers and objects’.
    • Click Apply and OK to save your changes.
    • Those who run Windows 10:
    • Navigate to the Owner section and click on Change.
    • Once in the Select user or group window, go to the ‘Enter the object name to select’ area and enter your username.
    • Make sure to click on the Check Names button. Then click OK.
    • The Permissions for Display window will open. Once in the Security tab, go to the Group or user names box and select your username from the list.
    • Go to the Permissions for Administrators section. Check Allow for Full Control.
    • Click Apply and OK to save the changes.

    Now you can delete the registry key you have taken the ownership of.

    Step 4. Remove the temporary files left on your computer

    To do this, you should empty the Temp folders:

    1. Open the Search box by pressing the Windows logo key + S shortcut.
    2. Type ‘%temp%’ (without quotes) into Search. Press Enter. Empty the folder.
    3. Then type ‘temp’ (no quotes) into the Search bar. Hit Enter. Empty this folder as well.
    4. This is it. There are no traces of the deleted software left in your system.

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    We are looking forward to your feedback!