How to Securely Wipe Your Windows 11 Computer Clean30 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. Here are step-by-step instructions for Windows 10.
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'
- 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'
- Connect USB drive to your computer
- Select the drive from the list
- Click 'Next'
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'
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'
- Check summary
- Click 'Create'
- Click 'Finish' once the process is completed
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.
- Uninstall unnecessary applications and programs
- Wipe files and folders
- Wipe browser history
- Wipe user activity
- 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 video. If 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'
- 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.
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
- 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, including temp files, recycle bin and recent folder.
- Turn the 'Wipe user activity' toggle switch on
- Click 'Select all'
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.
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.
The Ultimate Guide to Securely Wiping Your Computer
How to Wipe Data with BCWipe
Is Destroying Hard Drives Enough to Remove Data?
Don’t Destroy Your Hard Drive! 3 Reasons to Erase & Repurpose
Degaussing Doesn't Work on SSD
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