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Solutions: Wiping a hard drive

I want to donate my Dell desktop computer I purchased in 2002, but I have heard there is no way to thoroughly wipe the hard drive. I am scared a savvy computer person might end up with it one day and be able to retrieve personal data such as tax returns. I was told I should take the hard drive out and crush it to ensure the data are destroyed. This seems like such a waste. Do you know of a way to wipe the hard drive to ensure no one can retrieve data later?

You can find many secure erase programs for free on the Internet. One by the name of "Darik's Boot And Nuke" can be found at dban.sourceforge.net. What's nice about DBAN is that after creating a floppy (or CD, if your PC doesn't have a floppy drive), you just boot with it, and the program proceeds to securely erase the hard drive. You can then reinstall the base operating system (Windows, from your own source CD).

I'm running a Dell 2400 2.4Ghz with 1GB memory. I have Kaspersky Internet Security, the 2011 version, installed and do daily updates. My problem is that over half the time I am so CPU bound that I have a hard time opening task manager. It looks like avp.exe is the culprit, running at over 90 percent CPU. I have done Kaspersky full scan and malwarebytes, and nothing shows up. Why would avp.exe be using so many CPU cycles?

From what I could find out, this is a known issue for Kaspersky 2011. Some users have reported that uninstalling/reinstalling (which pulled down a recent update) solved the problem. I would check with its technical support for more information. Your PC probably could use another GB of memory, but that's not the problem here. Also, keep in mind that Microsoft Security Essentials is free and is very easy on overall computer resources if you cannot get things worked out with Kaspersky.

We are running Windows XP, Service Pack 3 with Windows Defender. When we turn the computer on in the morning, it has reset back to Dec. 31, 2001, with whatever time it feels like using. We go in manually to fix this problem, but it does it every day. What can we do? The other problem is we lost help and support, and we can't seem to find it. Any ideas on where to look?

Your date problem sounds like a dead battery issue on your motherboard. That battery helps the PC keep certain information such as the system date between power startups. They are not hard or expensive to change, but if you're not used to going under the hood on your PC, you may want to look for someone who is. There could be a number of reasons why your Help & Support seem to have disappeared. Try looking for (and running) the file Helpctr.exe. I think on XP it may be in the Windows\PCHealth\Helpctr\Binaries folder. You can find some extensive troubleshooting procedures for this problem at support.microsoft.com/kb/305666.

Send questions to personaltech@sptimes.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Wiping a hard drive 06/12/11 [Last modified: Sunday, June 12, 2011 4:30am]
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