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Old 06-22-2020, 02:40 PM   #1
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Data dilemma


Ordered and received a refurb tower via Amazon. Have used a couple months and it has an issue. Vendor tech dept. says needs to be replaced and can ship back at no charge. OK, no problem there BUT, the 'issue' is that the unit will not boot up at all, so I can not get into it at all, and on that hard drive is my password file with ALL my user names and passwords to various sites including banking, financial, and medical.

So, my question is: is there anyway to scramble or delete the data in this circumstance?

Also, I heard long ago that magnets can affect data on hard drives. Is that so?
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Old 06-22-2020, 03:59 PM   #2
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Re: Data dilemma


You can get a device that allows you to remove the hard drive, put it in the device, and force read it. All it takes is a good strong magnet to scramble its brain.
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Old 06-23-2020, 07:47 AM   #3
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Re: Data dilemma


Will not boot up at all, as in entirely blank screen? Or will POST but not boot to OS (hang, like no MBR found)?
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Old 06-24-2020, 05:53 AM   #4
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Re: Data dilemma


You can get a hard drive dock and connect it up to another computer via USB and wipe the drive. But they probably want to have the operating system intact to diagnose the problem. So you might have to trust them. Sometimes that's all you can do. And you can always just change your passwords.
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Old 06-24-2020, 10:17 AM   #5
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Re: Data dilemma


You say 'my password file with ALL my user names and passwords to various sites including banking, financial, and medical...is...on that hard drive'.

If it is a file for sure, like Word or Excel, it can probably be deleted.

Suggestion: Download an Ubuntu iso file and burn to a dvd. Then boot AND RUN Ubuntu from the dvd. Primer: https://ubuntu.com/tutorials/try-ubu...etting-started

There are probably commands beyond 'delete', even as an administrator, that will truly delete the file as in nuke the file. That way, as raylo has advised, Amazon's backend techies can still try to analyze what went wrong.
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Old 06-24-2020, 09:08 PM   #6
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Re: Data dilemma


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Originally Posted by huesmann View Post
Will not boot up at all, as in entirely blank screen? Or will POST but not boot to OS (hang, like no MBR found)?
First time I re booted after registering Windows, the screen flashed 'can not locate operating system, will retry', or something like that. After about two minutes of that, I rebooted again, THEN just 'black screen'. ...... Only noticable difference was that the big fan (has two) would normally come on for 5 seconds at the begin of boot, this time it would stay on for about 30 seconds and then shut off.
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Old 06-24-2020, 09:15 PM   #7
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Re: Data dilemma


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Originally Posted by diyorpay View Post
You say 'my password file with ALL my user names and passwords to various sites including banking, financial, and medical...is...on that hard drive'.

If it is a file for sure, like Word or Excel, it can probably be deleted.

Suggestion: Download an Ubuntu iso file and burn to a dvd. Then boot AND RUN Ubuntu from the dvd. Primer: https://ubuntu.com/tutorials/try-ubu...etting-started

There are probably commands beyond 'delete', even as an administrator, that will truly delete the file as in nuke the file. That way, as raylo has advised, Amazon's backend techies can still try to analyze what went wrong.
Thanks Di, not sure I'm going to put that much effort into it (although had I known, probably would have been easier than what I did do), but I did call the vendor who is replacing the tower, told him my concern, he said 'don't worry about it, we will be wiping it anyway'. ...... I said "don't worry about it ...... easy for you to say". ..... He then suggested pulling the HD and putting it in my old PC as a 'slave', access the file and delete it ....... great idea ....... did it, but the old PC doesn't see it. Have booted a couple times, no luck.
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Old 06-24-2020, 09:27 PM   #8
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Re: Data dilemma


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Originally Posted by diyorpay View Post
You say 'my password file with ALL my user names and passwords to various sites including banking, financial, and medical...is...on that hard drive'.

If it is a file for sure, like Word or Excel, it can probably be deleted.

Suggestion: Download an Ubuntu iso file and burn to a dvd. Then boot AND RUN Ubuntu from the dvd. Primer: https://ubuntu.com/tutorials/try-ubu...etting-started

There are probably commands beyond 'delete', even as an administrator, that will truly delete the file as in nuke the file. That way, as raylo has advised, Amazon's backend techies can still try to analyze what went wrong.
After consideration, I figured I'd try it, but then I follow your link and what do I get.......questions, like "Download the Ubuntu release of your choice"....... "release of your choice"? ...... I haven't got a clue what MY choice is ........ I just like to see a button that says 'download'. But thanks again anyway.
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Old 06-24-2020, 09:34 PM   #9
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Re: Data dilemma


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Originally Posted by raylo32 View Post
You can get a hard drive dock and connect it up to another computer via USB and wipe the drive. But they probably want to have the operating system intact to diagnose the problem. So you might have to trust them. Sometimes that's all you can do. And you can always just change your passwords.
There's probably 10 years worth of passwords and usernames, but yes, could change the money ones.

As for the OS, I don't care if I wipe everything, I think they plan on it anyway. And since I can't get it to read as a slave on my old PC, not sure if a hard drive dock would do any better.

But they say that they will be shipping the new one as soon as they can verify that the return is in the possession of Fed Ex, so not concerned with a total wipe.
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Old 06-24-2020, 10:38 PM   #10
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Re: Data dilemma


Cheezy hackz. Did your tower come with a Windows install disc or do you have one laying around? Pretty much any version should do.

Go through the process of installing windows, making sure to FORMAT the hard drive(s).

Do that two or three times and no one's gonna recover that password file.
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Old 06-25-2020, 08:54 AM   #11
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Re: Data dilemma


Can't tell if this is a hardware failure or a drive failure...sounds more like the former if there's a totally blank screen on boot.

OP, do you have access to another computer with SATA drives (assume the drive in question is SATA)?
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Old 06-25-2020, 08:10 PM   #12
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Re: Data dilemma


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Can't tell if this is a hardware failure or a drive failure...sounds more like the former if there's a totally blank screen on boot.

OP, do you have access to another computer with SATA drives (assume the drive in question is SATA)?
Can't tell you if it is a SATA drive, but it accepted the connection on my old computer. As mentioned earlier, I tried it in the slave drive position but the old unit couldn't see it. Re booted a couple times but never showed in file explorer.
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Old 06-25-2020, 08:14 PM   #13
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Re: Data dilemma


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Originally Posted by Mystriss View Post
Cheezy hackz. Did your tower come with a Windows install disc or do you have one laying around? Pretty much any version should do.

Go through the process of installing windows, making sure to FORMAT the hard drive(s).

Do that two or three times and no one's gonna recover that password file.
Thanks Mys, but don't have any boot discs. Found an old CD that I had burned called the 'Ultimate Boot disc', but didn't work. Apparently not so ultimate.
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Old 06-26-2020, 09:17 AM   #14
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Re: Data dilemma


If you're talking slave position, then it must be an IDE/ATA drive—AFAIK SATA doesn't do master/slave anymore. I don't even know if IDE drives are even still available on the new market.
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Old 06-26-2020, 04:21 PM   #15
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Re: Data dilemma


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Originally Posted by RanK2 View Post
Thanks Mys, but don't have any boot discs. Found an old CD that I had burned called the 'Ultimate Boot disc', but didn't work. Apparently not so ultimate.

What's the boot order in BIOS? Is it set to boot the CD drive before the hard drive?
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