Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Level 1
7 5 0 0
Message 1 of 4
Flag Post

How to "Completely Erase" a hard Drive

HP Recommended
HP Pavilion Model m8120n
Microsoft Windows Vista (64-bit)

I have an older HP desktop (HP Pavilion Model #: n8120n), with a Windows Vista operating system. This computer is approximately 9 years old and I am planning to donate it to my church.  It has a full version of Office 2007 and works just fine.  I have recently purchased a new Windows 10 Envy laptop to replace it.

Normally a computer of this vintage is not worth my effort to "Upgrade" to the latest and greatest technology; and I would normally just "trash it".  However, everything works OK and I am planning to donate it to my church.  For what they need it for, i.e. Excel spreadsheets, Word processing and using it for e-mail, the computer would be just fine for them.  However, I am concerned about any traces of my personal information remaining on the computer.  It has two (2) hard drives and I only saved my personal date to one particular drive.

I have two (2) questions:  1.  What is the best way to completely erase this one drive?  and 2. Is there any other files or folders that should also be revised and/or erased?

Although this computer is old; it would still provide someone with some value.

Any suggestions ..............



Level 16
Level 16
32,824 32,724 2,978 7,309
Message 2 of 4
Flag Post
HP Recommended




Allow me to welcome you to the HP forums!


Interesting questions ...


1) Drive Wiping -- erasing files accomplishes nothing useful because all that does is remove entries from a partition table, and it leave the files intact.  So, that is a waste of time.


What you need to do is "wipe" the drive -- and this consists of overwriting the drive with ones, or zeroes, or both -- and that can take HOURS to do.


IF you're prepared to spend that time, I recommend the use of a third-party tool known as Minitool Partition Wizard. This is a free partitioning tool and you should download their Boot CD ISO file to a local drive.

You can get it from here:,0301-51034.html

Once you have this, you have a choice of media to create:
1) If you can boot from CD, download and install ImgBurn and use the Write Image to Disk option to create a bootable CD.
2) If you can boot from USB, download and install RUFUS and use the option to create a bootable USB stick from the ISO file.

Boot your PC with the media you created.  Once running Minitool, select the drive you want to wipe and choose the option to wipe the partitions.


BE CAREFUL -- because if you choose the wrong drive, you will wipe out the Windows installation.


BTW, a simpler and easier solution, since this is a desktop, would be to simply remove the drive with your stored data.


But the choice is yours


2) Other data.


The list is nearly endless of other personal data that could be stored inside the OS partition on that PC. 


This include browsing history, personal information of any websites you surfed, personal information of any online forms you completed, cached downloads from any sites you visited, any personal information you entered into any Microsoft files.


This latter could be a problem because some of the Microsoft Office tools make automatic backups and store those, by default , on the OS partition, not on any data drive.


Also, you might have to "uninstall" Office 2007 from this PC if you intend to reuse it on your new PC.  IF you just leave it on this PC, when you go to reactivate it on your new PC, MS is likely to block that.

Good Luck

***If my post helped, click the thumbs-up symbol to say thanks***

***Please mark Accept As Solution if my post solved your problem***

I am a volunteer and I do not work for, nor represent, HP
Level 1
7 5 0 0
Message 3 of 4
Flag Post
HP Recommended

Thank you very,very much for the response.  I thought about removing (and destroying) the one drive that has my personal data on. The drive that has the operating system on was almost to capacity.  This would not give anyone much room to save "their" data.  You brought up another interesting point and that is that there is probably some personal data on the "operating system" drive that I would probably never really effectively erase without "trashing" somethig that it needs to function.  I don't need Windows Office, since my new laptop is coming with Office 2016.

it sounds like the safest thing to do is to "trash" the computer, since I have no idea who will be using it.  Otherwise, this issue will keep me up at nights worrying about it!

Again, many thanks for your response.

0 Kudos
Level 15
Level 15
12,842 12,635 1,774 5,014
Message 4 of 4
Flag Post
HP Recommended


Because Vista is not a supported OS, and it would not fully support internet activity. IE stopped support with version 9. See here for the complete list of OS and IE versions.   If your thinking Chrome or Firefox, forget that also.  Any support ends this year.

There are 2 options (IMHO):

1) Destroy the hard drive.  Drill holes thru the platters.

2) Purchase a set of VIsta Recovery disks and a WIN 7 upgrade DVD.  Cost about $55-60.   You will need IE 11 (see above link).  The process will require about 120+ WIN 7 updates after you get it up and running before IE 11 can be installed.   Do the updates in small batches of 10-15 files.

This system is feedback driven thru Solution and Kudo flags. It's the only means of knowing if you have been served. Please click Accept as Solution, if your problem is solved. To say THANK YOU, press the "thumbs up symbol" to render a KUDO. You can render both Solution and KUDO..

HP Envy 8 5010 Tablet
(2) HP DV7t i7 3160QM 2.3Ghz 8GB
Printer -- HP OfficeJet Pro 8620 Legal
Custom Asus Z97D, I7-4790k, 16GB RAM, WIN10 Pro 64bit, ZOTAC GTX1080 AMP Extreme 3 fan 8GB RAM, 500GB SSD, Asus PB287 4k monitor, Rosewill Blackhawk case and 750W OCZ PSU.
0 Kudos
Warning Be alert for scammers posting fake support phone numbers and/or email addresses on the community. If you think you have received a fake HP Support message, please report it to us by clicking on "Flag Post".
† The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation