I was once using a USB to connect to my phone and copied some of my photos to my old notebook which I am no longer using. My neighbor is poor. He does not have a computer at home, and since I have this abandoned notebook left at home, I want to give it to him. But, some of my photos are just too private. I want to make sure they got deleted.

Are there any free software out there that can help me locate my photos in my computer?

I am sorry, I forgot to tell you that I had lost the windows installation CD, and the drivers for this notebook, so I could not ask him to format the notebook.

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    Install Linux on your notebook and reformat the disks before giving it Mar 20, 2015 at 14:31
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    Chances are he could be very interested in your old things and restore them. Mar 20, 2015 at 14:51
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    But giving a Linux notebook is the best way to avoid licensing issues (I am not sure you are legally permitted to give all the proprietary software...) and privacy issues (since you are wiping the disk, your neighbor won't read any of your personal data, assuming he has not the skills & equipment of the NSA) Mar 20, 2015 at 14:58
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    YOu dont need skills of NSA to find shredded documents. Certainly rich doesnt help
    – Virusboy
    Mar 20, 2015 at 14:59
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    @Virusboy: you are able (in a few hours) to find data on a Linux-formated disk? And the OP could even dd=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=4K ; after that wiping the neighbor won't be able to find data in a few hours... Mar 20, 2015 at 15:03

2 Answers 2


Grab a copy of DBan (http://www.dban.org/) and make a bootable USB drive with the ISO using either LiLi (Google: LinuxLive USB Creator) or Unetbootin (Google: Unetbootin) and wipe your drive for a minimum of 3 rounds (I personally do 7) using the PRGN Random "method".

To change the rounds on DBan after you've booted it press 'r' and to change the method press 'm'. Select your hard drive (not the USB drive) by using the arrow keys and the space bar.

Then re-install either the Windows version that came with your laptop (there should be a OEM Product Key on a sticker somewhere on your laptop) or grab a copy of Ubuntu Desktop and install it.

If you are still hesitant after the above method just go grab a new hard drive for $50 swap it in and physically destroy your old one. Then you'll know for sure he could never recover your files.

Don't listen to anyone calling you paranoid or who says "no one cares about your data". If you think it's important then it is. I wipe all of my drives before storing them and I never re-sell or give away my old drives. If I recycle a drive I drill the platters before taking it to the recyclers.


The Linux tool shred can securely delete everything thats on you hard drive 1.

To use "shred" you need to boot a Linux. To do this download a Linux Mint live CD, insert it into the CD tray and power the laptop on. It will most likely directly boot into the Linux.

Part 1: Finding the files.

Linux comes with some very powerful file-finding functions, the most common one is find. To find all the images on your hard drive you need to open a Terminal (its in your menu) and a File Browser (nautilus). Open the File Browser and navigate to the Windows Hard drives. Copy their path. Then open a terminal and type cd followed by the path to your Windows hard drive (most likely something like /media/mint/79054025255fb1a26e4bc422aef54eb4). Hit return.

Then type find . -regex ".*jpg\|.*gif\|.*png" | less and hit return. It will now search through the whole hard disk and find all images of the types JPEG, GIF and PNG - thus most likely find your photos as well. Remember the path to the photos, you will need them in the second step.

Part 2: Deleting the files

Follow the instructions to add shred to nautilus (your file browser) here.

After that you can browse to the files you want to delete, right click them and select "shred". Then they are gone, forever.

1 Note that this assumes that you have a regular hard drive and not a SSD. If you don't know, you have a regular hard drive.

After you are done, you power down your computer and boot into windows as usual.

Alternative: Shred the harddrive and install the linux. Much easier, much saver but kills the Windows.

Boot into linux as before. Find your hard drive (its most likely /dev/sda0). Open a terminal and issue the command shred /dev/sda0. Then click the "Install" icon on the desktop to install the Linux Mint.

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