How to Delete Everything on a Hard Drive

Wipe a Computer Hard Drive Clean with These Steps

To wipe a hard drive means to completely erase the drive of all information. Deleting everything does not wipe a hard drive and formatting does not [always] wipe a hard drive. You'll need to take an extra step to wipe the hard drive completely.

When you format a hard drive or delete a partition, you're usually only deleting the file system, making the data invisible but not gone. A file recovery program or special hardware can easily recover the information.

If you want to make sure that your private information is gone forever, you'll need to wipe the hard drive using special software.

Windows 8

  1. Press the Windows key plus the "C" key to open the Charms menu.
  2. Select the Search option and type reinstall in the Search text field (do not press Enter).
  3. Select the Settings option.
  4. On the left side of the screen, select Remove everything and reinstall Windows.
  5. On the "Reset your PC" screen, click Next.
  6. On the "Do you want to fully clean your drive" screen, select Just remove my files to do a quick deletion of your personal files on the computer or select Fully clean the drive to have all files erased and overwritten several times with random data.
  7. On the "Ready to reset your PC" screen, click Reset.

The hard drive will be erased and Windows 8 will be re-installed.


Windows 7 and Vista

  1. Insert the Windows 7/Vista installation CD in the CD-ROM drive and restart the computer.
  2. When you see the message "Press any key to boot from CD", press a key on the keyboard.
  3. Press the Enter key at the Windows Setup welcome screen.
  4. When prompted, press any key on your keyboard.
  5. On the "Install Windows" page, select your preferred language and other preferences, then click Next.
  6. On the License Agreement page, accept the terms and agreements and click Next.
  7. On the Installation Type screen, choose the Custom option.
  8. Select the Drive Options (advanced) option.
  9. For Disk 0, delete all partitions. When all partitions have been deleted, you should see a single entry named "Unallocated space".
  10. Click on Disk 0 and select Next.
  11. The Windows installation process will proceed with creating a new partition, formatting the partition, and installing Windows on the hard drive.

Windows XP and 2000

  1. Insert the Windows XP/2000 installation CD in the CD-ROM drive and restart the computer.
  2. When you see the message "Press any key to boot from CD", press a key on the keyboard.
  3. Press the Enter key at the Windows XP Setup welcome screen, then press F8 to accept the Terms and Agreements.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to select a hard drive partition to format and install Windows XP on.
  5. After formatting the hard drive, erasing all data, click on one of the links below for steps on how to install Windows XP or Windows 2000.