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Sir Topham Hatt

How to Format Hard Disk That I'm Still Using?

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Is there a way I can effectively format a hard disk when still using it?

I have Windows installed on a disk that I am currently using. I don't really want to plug the hard drive into another PC to do a full and proper format, but I want to make sure my product key for Windows has gone as well as everything else (for average joe user).

The disk is partitioned into 3 pieces.

I am thinking:

1) I could do a proper format (IE, writing to zero's) on the two partitions I am not using (how?) - I've moved the files off of these two, but they are only programs and games none of which really matter too much as they are old/offline games anyway.

2) Go through a Windows set up and merge the disk together (does it give me that chance in Windows Setup or should I do that before using Disk Director?).

3) Install Windows (although I guess I can't do that without a product key?)

4) If I can install without product key, then when it's installed, go back into a Windows setup and format again.

5) If I can't install without a product key, then just make sure it's formatted (IE turn off before it starts copying Windows files).

Not sure if there is a way I can strip the product key out of it before hand, but I would think the above is enough for average joe not to bother restoring data? Even if they do, so long as they don't then steal the product key as I will be using it on another PC.

I want to sell the hard drive afterwards so can't damage it physically (boo!).

Thanks

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If it were me I would create a live USB/CD of DBAN and go from there.

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You have to do it outside of Windows if you are using it - there are a number of boot CD's/usb systems you can download to do this.  Some are secure deleting, some will allow you to do just a simple format.

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yea, you don't need to plug the disk into anything else...

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Dude, nobody is going to give a ###### about your product key. It's just not needed.

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Dude, nobody is going to give a **** about your product key. It's just not needed.

Sure, more than likely the next owner won't be looking for a way to get the product key, but it's always a good idea to wipe your drive before selling it on. And it's not like it costs anything to do or is a particularly difficult task.
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To prevent an average person from recovering anything, boot into the windows setup disk and when you get the option, select to do a custom (advanced) install. When it lists the partitions, click "drive options (advanced)" and you'll get options for deleting/creating/formatting partitions. I can't remember whether it does a quick format immediately or later, but in either case you can eject the disk and turn off the computer before setup starts copying files across. And you're done.

To do it properly so no-one can recover anything, use DBAN as mentioned above.

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WIndows Vista can be installed without a product key, windows 7 & 8 can too but you gotta delete a file.... ei.cfg in the sources folder on the dvd, just delete it can you can install any version of windows without the product key..

 

3) Install Windows (although I guess I can't do that without a product key?)

 

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+1 for DBAN.

 

Use DBAN so you have peace of mind and know there is no way to recover any data that may have been stored on that drive.

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To prevent an average person from recovering anything, boot into the windows setup disk and when you get the option, select to do a custom (advanced) install. When it lists the partitions, click "drive options (advanced)" and you'll get options for deleting/creating/formatting partitions. I can't remember whether it does a quick format immediately or later, but in either case you can eject the disk and turn off the computer before setup starts copying files across. And you're done.

To do it properly so no-one can recover anything, use DBAN as mentioned above.

 

I would never give the "just reformat" advice to anyone, even if all they want to do is prevent their grandmother from accessing it. It's just such horrible advice and you know it'll mislead some people into thinking it actually erases anything.

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If it were me I would create a live USB/CD of DBAN and go from there.

I'll take a look at this, thank you :)

 

Dude, nobody is going to give a **** about your product key. It's just not needed.

 If it isn't that important, why not share yours here?

 

Surely Microsoft would say your Windows is no longer genuine as anyone could ring MS and have the key transferred to them.

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 If it isn't that important, why not share yours here?

<< circumvention code >>

 

EDIT: lol, neowin blocks it!

 

I was messing around. Google "windows xp devil's own key" to see what I tried to post. :rofl:

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I would never give the "just reformat" advice to anyone, even if all they want to do is prevent their grandmother from accessing it. It's just such horrible advice and you know it'll mislead some people into thinking it actually erases anything.

Sure, I understand your stance on that and I'd normally agree, however in this particular case the OP appeared to be aware of what a simple format would do and was specifically seeking knowledge of how to perform this operation in the given scenario, which is what I provided. I wasn't trying to give advice, my advice would be the same as yours, to do a proper wipe, which I neglected to provide since others had already given it. :)

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I know this sounds dumb but can I just drag and drop the ISO image on to a USB drive and it'll boot from there?

Or do I have to have a special tool to change the USB drive to be able to boot ISO images like Windows?

I can find lots of "windows to USB" applications but none for any other ISO files.

 

I'd rather not waste a CD on a 40Mb file...

 

Thanks

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I know this sounds dumb but can I just drag and drop the ISO image on to a USB drive and it'll boot from there?

Or do I have to have a special tool to change the USB drive to be able to boot ISO images like Windows?

I can find lots of "windows to USB" applications but none for any other ISO files.

 

I'd rather not waste a CD on a 40Mb file...

 

Thanks

 

Yes, if your motherboard will let you boot from a USB device.

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I know this sounds dumb but can I just drag and drop the ISO image on to a USB drive and it'll boot from there?

Or do I have to have a special tool to change the USB drive to be able to boot ISO images like Windows?

I can find lots of "windows to USB" applications but none for any other ISO files.

 

I'd rather not waste a CD on a 40Mb file...

 

Thanks

Use this tool to make a bootable CD/USB. I believe DBAN is listed there.

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dBan is quite outdated now isnt it? All the hard disks I have tried it fails on them. Is there an alternative?

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dBan is quite outdated now isnt it? All the hard disks I have tried it fails on them. Is there an alternative?

Failed in what way? I've used it several times on multiple computers and not had any issues.

An alternative would be to create a live USB key of a Linux distribution and format the drive from there. I'm not overly sure on whether that is still as simple as using DBAN or not though as I have not encountered issues with my original suggestion. ;)

EDIT: I think I'm a fool. Of course it is as easy as booting in to something like Ubuntu, which comes with its own disk utility program. You may not get the same level of formatting options compared to DBAN, but at the end of the day all you're looking to do is zero out the disk, which I believe Ubuntu offers.

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WIndows Vista can be installed without a product key, windows 7 & 8 can too but you gotta delete a file.... ei.cfg in the sources folder on the dvd, just delete it can you can install any version of windows without the product key..

Win 8, specifically en_windows_8_x64_dvd_915440.iso from MSDN, does not have an EI.CFG file in /sources, you actually have to add it with the following text in order to make it bypass the required key prompt (but still required to enter a key within 30 days? don't quote me):

[Channel]
Volume

[VL]
0

Mods: I got this tip from mydigitallife and confirmed it works with that ISO, so if posting this violates any rules, please act accordingly. Individual results my vary.

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Finally got round to getting this done but came out with error:

 

DBAN finished with non-fatal errors.

Check the log for more information

 

*ERROR /dev/sdb (process crash)

*ERROR /dev/sda (process crash)

 

 

 

Looks like no workie.

Tried this twice now.  I did download another "drive wipe" program but I'd rather wipe it outside of Windows than connect the HDD to my new PC,then install the program and wipe it from there.  No CD drive connected any more, only the HDD I want to erase and the pen drive with DBAN on.

 

Any ideas?

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just get gparted and burn it to a disk or usb and boot into it

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