I need to nuke a Windows 8 tablet before I have to hand it back. I loaded a bunch of junk on, and we don't want the manufacturer poking around with our VPN client, Citrix Receiver, etc all installed.

I went to do a factory reset, but that's asking for a Windows 8 install CD or USB. The tablet doesn't have a USB input that I can use, and I really don't want to set up networking booting just to wipe this thing.

I tried popping open a command prompt using psexec running under a system context and running format c:, it says the drive is in use.

How can I nuke/format/erase, or otherwise obliterate a running install of Windows, without the use of a DVD-R or USB?

  • 1
    No USB? What tablet model is that? – nixda Feb 10 '14 at 19:04
  • @Tanner: If you run reagentc.exe /info, what does it show under the path to recovery image? – JSanchez Feb 10 '14 at 19:12
  • 1
    Windows 8 has a "Reset" feature suggest using that. – Ramhound Feb 10 '14 at 19:14
  • possible duplicate of Erase all traces of Windows 8 – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Feb 10 '14 at 19:59
  • Why is this a bad question? – rtf Feb 10 '14 at 21:36

You can't, as far as I know. Modifying a running kernel takes something like Ksplice (which I'm pretty sure doesn't exist for Windows, or people wouldn't complain so much about rebooting for updates). You could, however, use something like SDelete to delete any sensitive files and then zero the free space.

However, if you just want to wipe the memory (and it's a standard x86 machine), you could put DBAN on a USB stick and run that.

EDIT: noticed you said no USB input - you will have to find some way to boot a different OS if you want to securely erase the entire system.


Since you mentioned this is a Windows 8 machine, you should be able to do this:

Windows-C to bring up the Charms
Change PC Settings
Update and Recovery
Advanced Startup
Advanced Options
Command Prompt

You will have to logon, however you will be booted from an in-memory recovery version of Windows.

After that, you should be able to run

select disk 0
list volumes

You should then be able to select the windows volume and delete it. Note -- there is no way of going back from this if you change your mind.

There may be a more non-destructive way to do this too... like perhaps resetting the PC to factory settings, which should be an option under the 'Update and Recovery' settings.

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