How to Securely Wipe Your Windows 11 Computer Clean

30 Mar 2022 | Jetico Technical Support

Securely wiping your computer clean is essential for anybody that wants to protect their sensitive information. Whether you want to replace or repurpose your hard drive, this step-by-step guide is made to make life easy for all Windows 11 users.

There are 2 methods of wiping all of the data from your computer.

  • Wipe everything, including the operating system.
    This is the most common way of permanently removing all of the data from your PC. It’s also the logical choice if you want to dispose of or donate your computer.
    Pros: This approach is faster and more straightforward. It is also the most thorough way of wiping your computer, as it leaves nothing behind. 
    Cons: You need to reinstall the operating system if you want to use the computer again.

    Review step-by-step instructions
     
  • Wipe everything, excluding the operating system.
    If you’re repurposing your computer, but would like to keep the same operating system and continue using installed programs and applications, then this is the way to go.
    Pros: There is no need to reinstall the operating system after wiping.
    Cons: The process of wiping everything apart from the OS is longer than removing everything completely.

    Review step-by-step instructions


Back Up Your Data

No matter what kind of data you decide to wipe, you should begin by saving the data you want to keep elsewhere. Data can be copied to an external storage drive or a cloud service. You can also transfer data directly to another computer.

Whichever way you decide to back up your data, you should also take some measures to keep your confidential information safe by using encryption. Here are 3 tips on how to choose the right kind of encryption method for you.

How to Wipe Your Windows 11 Computer Clean (Including OS)

Step 1: Getting Started

Before you begin, make sure you have installed BCWipe Total WipeOut. More information on using the software can be found here. If you don’t want to commit to buying yet, the software is also available as a free trial.

  • Go to Start menu and click on 'All apps >'
  • Select 'BCWipe Total WipeOut'
  • Open 'BCWipe Total WipeOut Configuration Wizard'
A screenshot of BCWipe Total WipeOut start menu
  • Click 'OK' when asked for elevation

Step 2: Transfer the Software to a USB Drive

Since the utility wipes every sector of the target PC's drives, it must be run from a separate removable bootable disk.

  • Select 'Bootable USB drive'
A screenshot showing how to select bootable drive in BCWipe Total WipeOut
  • Connect USB drive to your computer
  • Select the drive from the list
  • Click 'Next'
A screenshot showing how to select bootable drive in BCWipe Total WipeOut, step 2

Step 3: Select Automatic Mode

In this example, we will simply use the default settings to wipe your computer.
Advanced users can see our instructional video for Manual mode.

  • Select 'Automatic mode'
  • Click 'Next'
A screenshot showing how to select automatic mode in BCWipe Total WipeOut

Step 4: Create Log File

At this point, you can choose to create log files. Logging is important if you need a record of what has been deleted.

  • Select 'Write log file to removable USB'
  • Click 'Next'
A screenshot showing how to create a log file in BCWipe Total WipeOut
  • Check summary
  • Click 'Create'
A screenshot showing how to create bootable USB drive in BCWipe Total WipeOut
  • Click 'Finish' once the process is completed
A screenshot of successful creation of bootable USB drive in BCWipe Total WipeOut

Step 5: Wipe Your Windows 11 Computer

The USB drive is now ready for wiping. You can now boot the system you want to erase with this USB.

Reinstall Your OS After Wiping

By following the above instructions, BCWipe Total WipeOut will wipe all of the information from your drive - including the operating system, file system, information about partitions, and hidden disk areas.

If you want to use your computer again, your first priority should be to reinstall your operating system. Find step-by-step instructions here.

How to Wipe Your Windows 11 Computer Clean (Excluding OS)

The process of wiping everything apart from the OS is a little longer than removing everything completely. We have broken down the process into 5 steps, which are outlined below in detail.

  1. Uninstall unnecessary applications and programs
  2. Wipe files and folders
  3. Wipe browser history
  4. Wipe user activity
  5. Wipe free space

Step 1: Uninstall Unnecessary Applications

Before running the wiping task to clean your system, you should uninstall all necessary applications and programs from Windows Control Panel. Just be sure to keep BCWipe and any other important software programs you need.

Step 2: Wipe Files and Folders

For help with installing BCWipe, you can watch our how-to videoIf you aren't ready to commit, the software is available as a free trial.

Once BCWipe is successfully installed, you will find wiping commands integrated to the right-click menu in Windows Explore. For any personal files remaining in your Windows 11, follow these steps:

  • Right-click on the target file/folder
  • Click 'Show more options', then select 'Delete with wiping'
  • For the most reliable results, allow BCWipe to run with administrator privileges when prompted
  • Confirm wiping by clicking 'Yes to All'
A screenshot showing how to delete data with BCWipe
  • The message below will appear if you are using an SSD drive. Click 'OK' to continue – we will wipe the Free Space at the end.
A screenshot showing how to wipe free space in SSD with BCWipe

Step 3: Wipe Browser History

For any web browsers that will remain on your system, do not forget to wipe traces of your online activity. If you have uninstalled all web browsers, then you may skip to the next step.

  • Launch 'BCWipe Task Manager' from the Windows 11 Start menu
  • Select 'Add task' from the lower toolbar
  • Activate the 'Wipe browser history' command by making sure the toggle switch is turned on
A screenshot of activating browser history in BCWipe
  • Select all browsers

All set. You are ready to move on to the next step.

Step 4: Wipe User Activity

Activate the 'Wipe user activity' command to erase all traces of your activity in Windows 11.

  • Turn the 'Wipe user activity' toggle switch on
  • Click 'Select all'
A screenshot showing how to activate wipe user activity in BCWipe

Click 'Save and start' to begin wiping user activity. You can leave BCWipe Task Manager open to keep track of progress.

Step 5: Wipe Free Space

Do not skip this step!

  • In BCWipe Task Manager, select 'Add task' from the lower toolbar
  • Activate the 'Wipe free space' command by turning the toggle switch on
  • Select all drives on your system
  • Go to the 'Wiping options' tab and select 'U.S. DoD 5220.22-M(E)' from the 'Wiping scheme' dropdown menu – recommended for SSD drives and will ensure secure deletion of your files
  • Click 'Save and start' to begin wiping. You can leave BCWipe Task Manager open to keep track of progress.
A screenshot showing how to wipe free space in BCWipe

Your computer has now been wiped clean with the operating system remaining intact. If you would like to learn more about wiping hard drives, then also take a look at our ultimate guide.

Happy Wiping!

 

Related Articles

The Ultimate Guide to Securely Wiping Your Computer
Don’t Destroy Your Hard Drive! 3 Reasons to Erase & Repurpose
How to Wipe Data with BCWipe
Degaussing Doesn't Work on SSD - Use Data Wiping Instead

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