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Ask Slashdot: How To Clean Up My Work Computer Before I Leave? 547

Posted by timothy
from the lysol-in-all-the-vents dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm leaving my current job for a new one. I've been at this job for 10+ years so I'm sure there is tons of personal stuff stored on my machine. Since I can't take it with me does any one have a suggestions of tools or practices to clean off all of that data. I've already got my personal documents and files. I'm most worried about CC, debit card numbers and web site passwords I've used in browsers. Does clearing the cache, cookies, temp files do a good enough job? BTW it's a Windows 7 system if that makes a difference."
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Ask Slashdot: How To Clean Up My Work Computer Before I Leave?

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  • shred early, often (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:35AM (#40791047)

    Start shred'ing your files as soon as you know you're leaving - especially if your shit is being backed up...it keeps the file sizes the same, so they will propagate through any backups or archives.

  • by cvtan (752695) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:38AM (#40791127)
    Why were you doing this kind of stuff at work?
  • by gr3yh47 (2023310) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:39AM (#40791169)
    The quality of questions on slashdot lately is abysmal. You really need a slashdot answer to tell you to reinstall windows and reformat the drive in the process? or to nuke the drive with any easily-googable drive erasing tool and reinstall windows?
  • by funwithBSD (245349) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:46AM (#40791287)

    His first mistake was using a company machine for private transactions.

    Use your smart phone/iPad/whatever to that sort of stuff. Browse all you like at Newegg, but don't buy it at work!

  • Is their IT staff? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by na1led (1030470) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:47AM (#40791331)
    IT should be taking care of this for you. Don't try and do things yourself without consulting with IT first, I've seen many users mess things up when they try to take maters in their own hands. Remember, you're using company property, and all the data belongs to the company too. If you have personal data, let the IT person know this, and they will be responsible to dealing with it.
  • by lorenlal (164133) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:48AM (#40791339)

    If the IT department doesn't reimage old machines, then original poster should be even more inclined to DBAN that thing.

  • by logical_failure (2405644) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:48AM (#40791365) Journal
    DBAN is the only thing I would recommend. Simply re-imaging the machine is not enough.
  • A short list (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Caffeine_Coder (537162) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:49AM (#40791385) Homepage
    While it isn't the same as destroying the drive, this should be good enough, w/o inconviencing the systems team.  Any 'work' ( documents / files / email ) you generated while using the computer for work is considered property of the company, so only focus on your personal stuff (so you dont get busted for 'destroying company property'.

    - Open each browser (firefox, IE, chrome) and delete cache, cookies, etc...
    - Move / delete all your files in My (Documents | Pictures | Videos | Music), and desktop
    - Uninstall any programs you installed and wasn't for work
    - Confirm no personal items stored in root "C:\"
    - Delete everything in %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Temp
    - Delete everything in %SystemRoot%\TEMP

    If you have admin perms
    -After you have saved your work files off someplace else, create New admin User, log in as that admin, delete your old profile, and confirm that C:\Users\"OLD LOGIN NAME" does not exists
  • by dAzED1 (33635) <<brianlamere> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:55AM (#40791499) Homepage Journal
    damaging the computer in any way (yes, I know the "nuke it" comment was a joke...but the other comments in the thread aren't) is a great way to lose a final paycheck, or otherwise have your former employer be very unhappy with you. You have work on your computer that shows your thought processes while you were doing certain tasks...notes, etc. If something goes wrong 4 months from now, they may want to check those notes.

    Why would your credit card info be on the box, again? I know I already asked, but...huh? What year is this...did I go back in time?

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:56AM (#40791503)

    For systems with limited access. Where Whipping the PC isn't an option. I would suggest the following.
    Delete Cache, and Cookies, Clear up your Document Folders.

    Then I would run a program that fills the disk with a large file ( or several large files, of random data)
    then Delete that file.
    Then Defragment the drive.

  • by JohnFen (1641097) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:00PM (#40791577)

    This is true, but for his purposes, reformatting is very likely just fine. No employer is going to go to the hassle and expense of data recovery unless they're actively investigating wrongdoing or the employee deleted critical data. And if the employer suspects wrongdoing, then the employee is probably already busted by the keylogging & monitoring software they would have installed.

  • by camperdave (969942) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:06PM (#40791665) Journal

    The quality of questions on slashdot lately is abysmal. You really need a slashdot answer to tell you to reinstall windows and reformat the drive in the process? or to nuke the drive with any easily-googable drive erasing tool and reinstall windows?

    That's all well and good if you want to wipe EVERYTHING on the computer. What if there is corporate information on that machine, spreadsheets the guy was working on, etc. Wipe everything and you wipe those as well. The company would be well within its rights to sue him for damages if he did that. So, how can he wipe everything he needs to wipe, without wiping anything he doesn't need to, or shouldn't, wipe.

  • by gr3yh47 (2023310) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:08PM (#40791701)
    Gee, if only corporate networks had places to store documents.... or if only computer files could be moved before something was done to the computer. That's a rough one.
  • Re:Perfect! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gordonjcp (186804) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:08PM (#40791711) Homepage

    The whole "DoD Wipe" thing is overkill.

    One single pass of dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/ will destroy all the data on the disk, beyond any hope of recovery.

  • Re:Perfect! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gordonjcp (186804) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:36PM (#40792167) Homepage

    I was going to say "myth", too. Have you noticed how the only people that insist that a "DoD wipe" is essential for getting rid of old data on drives are the people selling expensive drive-wiping software?

  • by ottothecow (600101) <ottothecow@gmaQUOTEil.com minus punct> on Friday July 27, 2012 @01:01PM (#40792453) Homepage
    I'm always confused by posts like this (which pop up every time there is a topic about use of work hardware).

    People use their work computer to do personal things all of the time in ways that are allowed by policy. Your company may not allow personal/incidental use but are you so thick-headed that you can't realize that most companies do?

    Same with the old data. Is it not conceivable that IT might move the user's home directory and similar things to a new machine? I thought this was pretty much standard practice. I certainly have files on my current desktop dating back to when I was in middle school...maybe its a carpenter's hammer type of thing ("its my favorite computer, I've had it for 15 years, and only replaced the OS 6 times and the hardware 4 times") but its certainly not unreasonable to have a large accumulation of stuff on a "new" machine after 10 years. What kind of slashdot poster wouldn't realize that this kind of stuff is easy to transfer to a new system?

    Then again, you say your work computer is 10 years old so maybe your company really doesn't have a clue what its doing and yet you continue to work there.

  • by Yaztromo (655250) <yaztromoNO@SPAMmac.com> on Friday July 27, 2012 @01:58PM (#40793331) Homepage Journal

    Why would your credit card info be on the box, again? I know I already asked, but...huh?

    I don't know about the askers workplace, but at my workplace if we need to book work-related travel we use a corporate website to book, but have to provide a credit card to charge the flights, hotels, and car rentals. We then get to expense it, along with whatever meals and incidentals were required for the trip.

    Some people in the organization have a corporate credit card, but most of us don't. The benefit of using a personal card for this sort of booking is that if you have a card that gives you any sort of points per dollar purchase, you get them. The company has always been responsive to quickly repaying the expense.

    So one day I'll probably be in a similar position as the asker, with the exception that I run an OS that has a secure free space wipe feature built-in to get rid of any traces of anything I delete.

    Yaz

  • by shaitand (626655) on Friday July 27, 2012 @02:08PM (#40793483) Journal

    He isn't liable financially for anything he does within the scope of his employment. If you screw up work in a way that costs the company a million dollars they are more than justified in canning you but you don't owe them the million.

    I would definitely at least do a couple passes with random data on the drive.

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