I need to return my computer to the company after our mass lay off. I want to remove everything. I care nothing about any files. Just need it ALL removed. Please advise me, as I am obviously a novice. Thank you in advance!!

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    We are talking about Ubuntu, right? Did the company's computer have an operating system before or it was Ubuntu from the beginning? If so, please let us know if you need to re-install certain Operating System in the computer in order to return it to the company. Thank you and welcome to AskUbuntu. Jun 27 '13 at 15:52
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    Thanks!!! I appreciate your reply. No it's not Ubuntu.
    – Dawn
    Jun 27 '13 at 16:22
  • Just for clarity: all files you made for your company belong to your company (even though copyright might belong to you). I can understand you are angry, but make sure you do not get in trouble. Also this is an Ubuntu site, why would you ask a Windows question here?
    – don.joey
    Jun 27 '13 at 16:52
  • sorry. I'm new. I was laid off from my position at company..give a gal a break. thanks again for your help.
    – Dawn
    Jun 30 '13 at 16:12

First off, definitely make sure you don't need anything on there. Once you've done that use Darik's Boot And Nuke (DBAN) if you want everything removed.

DBAN is a self-contained boot disk that automatically deletes the contents of any hard disk that it can detect. This method can help prevent identity theft before recycling a computer. It is also a solution commonly used to remove viruses and spyware from Microsoft Windows installations. DBAN prevents all known techniques of hard disk forensic analysis. It does not provide users with a proof of erasure, such as an audit-ready erasure report.

Source: http://www.dban.org/

  • You're welcome! It is always useful to provide a bit more information, not just because the answer is more appealing. But it makes the answer more valuable (in every sense of the word).
    – lgarzo
    Jun 28 '13 at 6:48

Deleting files is as easy as using the Del key on the file navigator or using the rm command.

I will assume that all your files are in your home (something like /home/myName/), and therefore all you need to do is:

$ rm -rf *

If you want to delete things out of your home directory everything is exactly the same but you have to use sudo (and be an authorised sudoer on your machine, of course!).

Now, if you want to make absolutely sure that nobody, even the CIA and their forensic experts, will ever see those files again this may not be enough.

With adequate tools and a lot of time files can be recovered from a hard disk even after they are deleted. If you want to make them disappear forever beyond recovery you need to use shred on the file that identifies your home partition. Assuming it is /dev/sda1 (you can see with command 'mount'), you need to write:

$ sudo shred -f -z -n 10 /dev/sda1

Alternatively, if you are not an authorised sudoer, you can shred each and every file in your account, one by one:

$ find . -exec shred -f -u -n 10 \{\} \;

The -u option deletes the file after shredding it. It should not be used with /dev/sda1.

(more info on man rm and man shred)

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    I think this is a great explanation, but it lacks a serious warning on the use of the commands. Noobs could use them in the wrong folder, to give but one example.
    – don.joey
    Jun 27 '13 at 16:50

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