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Got an old desktop computer that's not quite dead, so I want to give it away to a local charity. Thought I'd first remove any personal info on the hard drive by re-formatting it. But if I do that, won't I wipe out the version of the Windoze OS that's on the HD ?? Will the computer actually let me erase the software that's doing the re-format ?? Will the computer run after the re-format ?? As you can tell, I'm confused! Clarifications requested. Thanx.

- Bob
 

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If you format the hard drive, there will be no OS.
Assuming one HD (the system HD)
You would have to reload an OS (operating system) back on.
 

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Michael is right - format that drive and the OS won't work.

However - any personal data you may have had on that drive would still be recoverable!! With tools available freely on the internet, it's trivial for even a n00b to "un-format" a drive. Even if it's had a new OS installed - areas that aren't written over can be recovered with a simple disk editor. When a drive is formated, the data itself is left untouched, just the allocation table for that data block is marked as 'available'. Almost like when you delete a file. The file's contents aren't touched - just the sectors holding are marked as 'available' to the OS.

If you are at all concerned about protecting your privacy, use a tool like Darin's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) available for free download here: http://dban.sourceforge.net/ If it's good enough for the boys at Dod....

It takes a tad of know how to build a DBAN floppy disk - instructions are included - use it to boot the laptop and let it do it's thing. It'll take some time - but when it's done, even the boys at NSA would be challenged to recover anything readable from it.

Then re-install an OS - Windows if you have it, but may I suggest one of my flightless friends? :D http://www.linux.org
 

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sending them a computer with the OS is illegal unless you also give them your license for the software.
 

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rixchard said:
sending them a computer with the OS is illegal unless you also give them your license for the software.
IIRC - I think actually giving them the LICENSE is also "illegal" per Microsoft... Some "nontransferable" clause I believe 'cause we don't really own the software, yada, yada, yada (...off to read the EULA).

I agree with Tate (Zotter)... Install some Linux variant... free and quite useful for e-mail, internet, etc. I've been playing around with Red Hat Fedora and have been quite pleased with it - other variants are about the same...
 

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It is legal to transfer an operating system with a computer, as long as the original CD with it's license number is transferred with it, and that license is not installed on your replacement computer. As long as the license remains only on one computer, it is legal. The person holding the ORIGINAL copy of the license number documentation is the "owner".

Buying or building a computer that comes with no operating system, installing your legally owned OS on it, then transferring the old computer with the OS still installed on it is illegal.
 

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Apple's Disk Utility (free with Mac OS X) has a simple method for writing zeroes or random data over all the free space on your hard disk. Choose either 1-pass, 7-pass, or 35-pass, click, and it's all gone. Yep, secure enough for the DoD. :)
 
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