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I considered Formatting the HDD and reinstalling Windows but I don't have the original install CD and don't want to (potentially use up a Windows XP install license reinstalling).

Also that's going to be a bit time consuming. There isn't sensitive data on this. It was computer used for guests for non sensitive work (accessing the internet, etc.)

I mostly just want to erase all Personal Settings (like network passwords, etc.)

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closed as off topic by MDMarra, LapTop006, Ward, mdpc, Michael Hampton May 13 '13 at 16:41

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If you're donating it, do you care if it runs Windows? Boot a Linux CD, nuke the drive and install CentOS, Debain, Ubunutus, etc. Else, ensure the Administrator account is enabled, restart and delete the user profiles. Also remove their profile directories under "C:\Documents and Settings". –  jscott May 13 '13 at 0:44
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you aren't worried about sensitive data, you won't need to get too serious.

  1. Delete all local users and the profiles, leaving only the administrator account.
  2. Run CCleaner as well. Clear the Recycle Bin.
  3. Consider running virus scans such as malwarebytes and also a spyware remover like superantispyware to remove cookies etc.
  4. Run a registry cleaner (CCleaner does this)
  5. Run windows delete temp files (this isn't very helpful in XP but it may still delete some things)
  6. Do a defrag using something like MyDefrag (or even the default XP defrag). This will assist in moving files around the disk and thus better chance of overwriting deleted things (= more secure)
  7. look in the root of the OS Drive (usually C:) and delete things if they shouldn't be there. Do this for extra drives you have as well (D:, E:) if applicable. Consider wiping additional drives

That should do it pretty well. This is not in depth but the OP stated there isn't sensitive data. This is just from my years of experience in the retail service and also corporate industries, I haven't specifically researched how to clean up an XP machine without reformatting.

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If you want this to continue running windows and not let any sensitive data out, you will need to wipe and reinstall. Depending on how critical, a simple format will do but you can run a secure wipe relatively easily. Try googling: secure wipe

Before wiping though, you should retrieve your software keys. Here is one of many pages that will help you with that: How To Find Your Windows 7 Product Key .

Magical Jelly Bean is one that was one I used in the past. It is was free and is still partially free. It may meet your needs. Go to Magical Jelly Bean. It can be used for the Window's product key as well.

More can be found here by googling get windows key

I would put all of these in as links but as I'm still new here I can only put in 1 link till my rep goes to 10.

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Deleting the files is not sufficient for protecting such data. You have to overwrite the files before deletion. For Linux there is a programm called wipe. There is probably a lot of free programs of that kind available for Windows. Get one and tell it to wipe out C:\Documents and Settings.

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