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I'm resetting my Windows 10 laptop and deleting all my personal files to give it.

When I asked Windows to reset, I found what seems to be a new option : "clean drive", that claims to make data recovery more difficult.

Does this option actually write zeroes on the entire drive to erase previous data ? Does it really prevent anyone from recovering my deleted files ?

  • Generally these two options are shown in windows 10. msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/… – vembutech Aug 24 '15 at 7:27
  • @vembutech this page don't seems to answer my question, it only lists the options available without mentioning the "Clean the drive" feature, which is proposed after choosing "Reset your PC" – Elzo Aug 24 '15 at 7:38
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When you choose reset your PC you will have the options to "Fully clean the drive" or "Just remove my files". By picking "Fully clean my drive" it will take several hours and it will attempt to overwrite anything on the drive with zeroes, so yes it will. You have to remember there are some companies capable of restoring data from your disk but this will make it a lot harder than a quick format.

If you choose "Just remove my files" it will just do a quick format.

Description from Microsoft:

The behavior of this option will vary depending on if the drive is encrypted with BitLocker.

If the volume is not encrypted, then this option performs a full format of the disk and writes zeroes to every sector. This will take quite a long time. This is similar to running the command below:

format.exe c:\ /P:0

If the volume is encrypted with BitLocker, only a quick format is performed, as that wipes all of the information necessary to decrypt the disk. With no way to decrypt the disk, the data is effectively lost.

Note that this procedure will take much longer than the quick format. It could take hours on a large hard drive. This is not something that you would want to do live with a customer. It would be better to start it and arrange a follow-up later.

Source: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/olivnie/archive/2013/04/05/recovery-and-troubleshooting.aspx

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    Thanks ! For your warning about specialized companies, I will trust the answers to previous questions here saying that a single overwrite is sufficient to prevent any recovery on modern drives. – Elzo Aug 24 '15 at 10:30
  • Please see this article where Microsoft confirms my answer: blogs.msdn.com/b/olivnie/archive/2013/04/05/… – EntMobSec Aug 24 '15 at 12:09
  • Thanks for the source :) I quote the relevant passage for those who don't want to read the entire page : "If the volume is not encrypted, then this option performs a full format of the disk and writes zeroes to every sector. This will take quite a long time. This is similar to running the command below: format.exe c:\ /P:0". And @Ramhoud, can you give a source saying that a single overwrite is not enough ? There are other answers on SE that contradicts you. – Elzo Aug 25 '15 at 8:53
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    @YdobEmos - I was indeed mistaken about writing 0's portion of my statement. As for a single pass of writing 0's being enough to restore deleted files, in a case of a SSD that wouldn't be enough, nor would it be enough for a mechanical drive depending on the resources of the person doing the data recovery. – Ramhound Dec 3 '15 at 16:26
  • @Ramhound you seem to be right in the case of SSDs. For mechanical drives, there are several other questions on Information Security that claim that recovery of overwritten bits on modern hard drives is infeasible. – Elzo Dec 3 '15 at 17:14

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