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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

Need to "wipe" personal info from MacBook


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Wishbone

 
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I need to help sell a relatives older MacBook. I don't have install disks for it, he bought it at a pawn shop, God knows what's on it. Please, can you tell me how to wipe the personal info, plus the computer and admin passwords without having to re-install the OS ? It only has 512 mb memory, won't load my SnowLeopard install disks. And it will cost more to upgrade memory & buy used older system disks than he'll probably get from the sale.
THANX!
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chscag

 
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You're going to need a disk, preferably an install disk with the same version of OS X that came with the MacBook. It sounds like that particular MacBook may have come with Tiger. You need the disk in order to boot from it and wipe the hard drive plus reinstall the operating system.
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XJ-linux

 
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Personally, I usually su to root (why not enable root if you are nuking the system anyhow?) and cp -pr the contents of the /bin directory to a new directory I create called /zzz in terminal.app. Since commands like rm generally run from 0-9 & a-z, the /zzz directory will likely be one of the last directories removed and thus run for much longer than if you run it from /bin. The rm command and it's dependencies will theoretically be some of the last files deleted from the disk. Anyhow, from there I run /zzz/rm -drf /* (or to be really thorough: rm -drfP, though it sometimes just dies with the P flag). You can do other variations, like rm -drf /*.* or whatever. Eventually, after a really long time, the system will just quit running and will be pretty tough for anyone to recover without some serious effort. Some folks like to boot off a Linux flash drive and just format over the whole disk or write out the contents of /dev/random to the disk, but that's a bit more involved sometimes.

You can also just go old school and use the manual zero method:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/disk0s2 bs=1M

The dev/disk0s2 is whatever your boot disk is when you type df:

Filesystem 512-blocks Used Available Capacity Mounted on
/dev/disk0s2 235298960 123042408 111744552 53% /
devfs 370 370 0 100% /dev
map -hosts 0 0 0 100% /net
map auto_home 0 0 0 100% /home

"Those who don't understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly." Henry Spencer
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