By Tony Perrotta on December 02, 2021

Remove Files and Clean the Drive: How to Wipe Windows 10 Laptop PCs

How to Remove Files and Clean the Drive: From Backup to Wipe Hard Drive

Gone are the days where you can sell or dispose of a laptop PC without wiping your device entirely of its data. Your computer likely has years of crucial — and confidential — information that poses a risk if not removed. If your company is planning to upgrade its computer systems, make sure the proper time is taken to clean up the old computers.

With the amount of personal and corporate data that each laptop houses, failing to remove all data and documents before selling or disposing could leave your company vulnerable to severe data breaches from people outside of your organization.

Again, set aside time for this activity. Not only will you have to wait around for the data erasure standpoint (especially the Remove Files and Clean the Drive task), but it will also require several user-inputted steps. Multiply that time if you have copious devices that need wiping.

If you’re unsure of how to remove all data from your laptop PC, follow these steps!

Perform a Backup Before Anything

Restoring your laptop will erase all of your personal data and documents on your hard drive, so it is essential to backup your entire system and all files if you’re planning to transfer over to a new device.

Windows 10 includes a built-in feature to create a system-image backup to save any installation, settings, apps, and files. Follow the next steps to perform a system image backup.

avoiding the ITAD nightmare

Save Your Software Serial Numbers

Once you wipe your PC, any installed software will be lost, and if you’re upgrading to a new PC, you’ll need to reinstall your software on your new device.

To review which software is currently installed on your old device, make sure you know the corresponding install discs and serial numbers for your new laptop PC.

Create and System Image Backup

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on System and Security.
  3. Click on Backup and Restore.
  4. On the left side, click Create a system image link.
  5. When asked “Where do you want to save the backup?” select On a hard disk option.
  6. Select the location to save the backup using the “On a hard disk” drop down menu. Save the backup.
  7. If you have any other additional drives that you want to include in the backup, select them now.
  8. Click Next.
  9. Click Start backup.

Your computer will now start a full backup of its entire system and files. After a few minutes, the backup will be complete, and your device will be ready to start the data removal process.

avoiding the ITAD nightmare

How to Remove All Data from Windows 10 Laptop PC:

Open the Start Menu and select Settings.

  1. Click Update & Security.
  2. Go to the left-hand side, scroll down and click on Recovery.
  3. From there, go to Reset this PC. Since you want to reset your laptop PC back to factory default settings, click Get Started.
  4. A prompt will appear with two options, Keep My Files or Remove Everything. Choosing Remove Everything will delete all data and prepare your device for selling or recycling. Keep My Files will preserve your files.
  5. Click the Change settings option.
  6. Turn the Data Erasure toggle switch to on.
  7. Click Confirm.
  8. A prompt will appear that says, “Remove files and clean the drive. This may take hours, but will make it harder to recover files.” Click Next.
  9. Click the Reset button. This will remove all personal files and user accounts on the PC, any changes made to settings, and all apps and games.

If you have more than one drive on your laptop, we suggest removing your files from all drives for the most security. Your laptop will continue to reset for the next couple hours to make sure there are no recoverable files from the hard drive disk, and will download a clean version of Windows 10.

Once the restoration process is complete, double-check to see if your laptop has been restored back to factory settings. If it has, the data removal process has been done correctly, and your laptop is ready to sell or dispose of safely and securely.

It can be a time-consuming process to wipe laptop PCs in large quantities during a system refresh, but it’s still essential to keep your data safe with a secure removal.

Wiping Data in Bulk

If you need to wipe PCs in bulk, or want extra security measures to make your data not only inaccessible but completely destroyed, consider going to Greentec! We follow the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) IT Media Sanitization standards, the Canadian standard for disposal of media and data erasure.

Our certified methods go one step further in wiping devices — ensuring that they end up as fresh as a brand new computer. For businesses, this can be crucial for end-of-life disposal.

Contact us for more information about how we can help your organization collect and store, recycle or dispose of electronic devices at end-of-life, like your Microsoft laptop PCs.

avoiding the ITAD nightmare
Published by Tony Perrotta December 2, 2021