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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > iMac data removal

iMac data removal
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Aug 13, 2017, 12:04 PM
I will be getting a newiMac soon

Id like to give mine old one away, after I use migration assistant to the new iMac

Id like to leave all the programs on the older iMac , but remove all the files in such a way that they cannont

be recovered. also the bookmarks form the various browsers.

is there a way to do that ?

many thanks
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Join Date: Jun 2000
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Aug 13, 2017, 03:50 PM
The only safe solution is to wipe the internal drive, using the random-overwrite option. This will take a long time, usually hours. Then reinstall the OS, then reinstall any apps you want to leave.

You could create a fresh user account (an admin account) then use it to delete all the old user accounts. Then use Disk Utility to overwrite all the free space. But this isn't a fully safe option. Some apps save data outside the user folder, such as in /Library/Applications Support/ and /Library/Preferences/, as well as other odd locations.

If the old iMac was ever used for OS 9, there will be saved data literally anywhere. The only truly safe answer is to nuke and repave.
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Aug 13, 2017, 05:35 PM
What reader says. The easiest way to achieve that is to boot into recovery mode and wipe the drive from there, followed by a reinstall.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
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Aug 16, 2017, 04:17 AM
Also the new user account method would leave data from your old account possibly recoverable as it's just marked by the system as deleted so standard recovery tools could possible recover large portions of your data even after some time.
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Aug 16, 2017, 07:28 PM
Leaving the iMac with OS and programs intact, assuming they're Apple programs that came with the machine, isn't that hard.

After migrating your stuff to the new computer, format the disk and then reinstall the OS. That will provide a fairly secure "clean" disk that the eventual new user can reinstall the programs on. It isn't foolproof; there are tools that can scan a reformatted drive and recover a great deal of information from it.

A second option would be, after migration use Disk Utility's secure erase tool. You can choose how many passes the utility overwrites the disk - the more passes, the longer it takes, but also the more sercurely it is erased. Most sources recommend at least 5 passes, but 7 is better. After this, format and reinstall the OS and continue on.

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Aug 18, 2017, 01:43 AM
I also recommend a secure-erase format, then reinstall the OS.

You would PROBABLY be fine making an admin account, deleting your old account, erasing all free space with disk utility, then from the terminal, delete the new admin account and the .applesetupdone file so it boots into the setup assistant.

But, why probably be fine when you can definitely be fine?
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