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The Windows 'Remove Everything' option to wipe a hard drive

As discussed here before, even after files are removed from the Windows Recycle Bin, and even after a drive is reformatted, it's still possible to recover deleted files with widely available tools. See the Tip of the Night for December 29, 2019.

Windows 10 and Windows 11 include a reset option which can help wipe the drive of your PC, overwrite the existing data with new data, but this method may not be completely effective. Under Settings if you go to System . . . Recovery, you will see an option to 'Reset this PC'.

. . .if you then choose the option to 'Remove everything', that will initiate the process of wiping the hard drive.

However, there are some reports that even after the 'Remove everything' option has been run, files can still be recovered. See this April 2023 report by Tom's Hardware, detailing the subsequent recovery of persumably wiped files with EaseUS Data Recovery.

A better, or supplementary, option may be to use a secure erase option in the BIOS firmware that manages a computer at the most basic level without the operating system. You can enter BIOS by pressing F2 when rebooting on most kinds of PC (use F10 if you have a HP computer and F1 for a Lenovo device). Or, search for 'advanced startup options' in Windows

. . . and then select the option to 'Restart now'

When your PC restarts you should then be given the option to go into Troubleshoot mode and then under advanced options select the firmware settings.

The Dell BIOS firmware includes an option to wipe the device.


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