Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
It's impractical to try and erase everything on a hard drive except the operating system. Fortunately, there is an better solution.
What's the best way to clear my hard drive of everything but the operating system? In this case, Windows XP, SP3.
In this excerpt from Answercast #34, I look at the difficulties involved in trying to erase everything on a hard drive except the operating system. Our old standby, reformat and reinstall, will do the trick.
Unfortunately, there is no way to clear your machine of everything except the operating system.
The problem is that programs that have been installed over time kind-of blur the line of where the operating system begins and ends. Windows is pretty poorly designed in that sense. There are many things that make it difficult to understand exactly what is and is not part of the operating system.
We don't think of Internet Explorer as being part of the operating system. We think of it as being a standalone application in its own right. Yet, many components of Internet Explorer are actually used by Windows itself.
So, since there is no way to do exactly what you're asking for, the only solution I can offer is to do the traditional:
Reformat your machine completely (in other words, erase everything including the operating system);
And then reinstall the operating system from scratch.
That's really the only way to insure that the only thing on your machine is the operating system.
If you're concerned about files possibly being recovered, you might consider using DBAN: Darik's Boot and Nuke. That is used to securely erase the entire hard disk, eliminating all traces of any files that might have been there.
Unfortunately, as I said, there really isn't a way to do exactly what you're
asking for. The only way is to erase everything and reinstall the OS from
Next from Answercast 34 – Do I need to run anti-malware software on my smartphone?
Comments on this entry are closed.
If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.
If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.