How to Secure Erase an SSD or HDD Before Selling It or Your PC

If you are planning to sell/give away your old PC or just the drive inside, you need to securely erase your SSD or hard drive so that the next person doesn’t get access to your files. It almost goes without saying at this point, but simply deleting a file doesn’t completely make it go away. The operating system simply removes a pointer to the file, leaving all the bits in place until the drive needs and overwrites that space for new data. But that can take years or, if you have a lot of free space, never happen.

You might think that a simple Windows 10 or 11 reset with the option to delete your files enabled would get rid of all your personal data, but that’s just not the case and we ran a test to prove it. I was about to donate my old Windows 10 PC, so I used the built-in Windows reset feature and clicked “Remove everything”, which will erase all your files and leave you with a factory default OS install.

Reboot your PC

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

After the reset process was complete, my personal files were actually erased, as was all of the software I had installed. However, after I install and run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free (opens in new tab), a utility that finds and restores files, I found all my old files. To prove my point, I recovered a file called mypasswords2.txt that was in the Documents folder and I was able to read everything in it.

Find a deleted file on EaseUS Data Recovery

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

No matter how nice a person you sell your computer or bare hard drive to, you can’t trust them not to see what deleted files they can recover. Below we explain how to securely erase an SSD using Windows and then explain how to do the same with a hard drive as the process is slightly different.

How to securely erase an SSD

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