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Old 29th July 2005   #1
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Removing all traces of an XP user - How?


Anyone know a good method of purging an XP pc of a user, like when a machine is sold and the new user wants all traces of the old user removed?

I thought I had a reasonably good method, which was to create a new user account, remove the default files from it's folder in Documents and Settings, copy most of the contents of the original user's folder into it, then delete the original user.

This method isn't too bad, and removes most of the obvious traces of the original owner, while leaving all the desktop and Windows settings intact.

But a scan with RegSeeker (incidentally, this is a very good free app for finding and deleting multiple registry entries) revealed 85 instances of the old user name still in the Registry, so my method isn't 100% effective. Anyone know a better way?

PS: Microsoft Office is, of course, a different problem. It seems that an uninstall (and new install) of Office is the only way to remove the original owner's name.

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Old 29th July 2005   #2
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Well


I would think reinstalling XP would be even a better idea. Why do they need your old settings?

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Old 29th July 2005   #3
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Red Penguin, thanks for your response.

I have no way of knowing what you do for a living, but if, like me, you spend your time fixing other people's computers, and someone came to you (a frequent event) and said, "I want to you to clear my machine of anything that's related to me, so that I can sell it to my (sister\brother\hairdresser\local McDonald's manager), but I'd prefer not to spend a huge amount of money in the process", what would you do?

Would you just say, " No problem, I'll just reinstall Windows and I'll set up all of the apps that were running before the transfer. It'll only take about six hours; now, where are your setup disks for Applications ABCDEFG etc etc and I'll get started?"

Or would you look at the cluttered desktop and say, "No worries, all of these settings will be transferred across to the new owner, apart from your name".

(And then launch into the process that I've described above, except that 85 registry entries might still hold references to the first owner).

Which brings me back to my question.

My process, as described in my first post, does pretty much the whole thing. Except for the residue of random registry entries.

Okay, it may be that there's no easy way to do what I've asked. Except use RegSeeker and deal with every entry one by one.

What I'm asking is, is there anyone on this forum who has a simple solution to my question? Or do I have to it it the long and hard way?

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Old 29th July 2005   #4
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I figured you would say that, but I figured you meant your own machines where the previous software really meant nothing and you had recovery CDs or something like that.

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Old 29th July 2005   #5
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Smile

Have you tried Kelly's Korner under 'O' (and search the page for 'owner') for a registry modification and/or a script to change the registry. Haven't used it but it might be what you want. Or check through the site for other possibilities.


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Old 29th July 2005   #6
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Okay, it may be that there's no easy way to do what I've asked. Except use RegSeeker and deal with every entry one by one.
I would suggest that you run regseeker and see EXACTLY what some of the entries point to. If they happen to point to any thing that is of Financial or other possibley Private data, I would be Formating and start over. Or at least remove the software it refers to.

I gotta ride the same train as RedPenguin except I would add FORMAT before reinstalling. He is correct. The next user has no need for your settings.

If you pass on the unit without making major changes the words Personal Computer may get changed to Public Computer.

These are my thoughts anyway.

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Old 29th July 2005   #7
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Originally Posted by masonite
I thought I had a reasonably good method, which was to create a new user account, remove the default files from it's folder in Documents and Settings, copy most of the contents of the original user's folder into it, then delete the original user.
Beyond that, you're going to have to slog thru it - I assume you know the logon name(s) that you want to expunge - or do a format re-install which in the end may be quicker, but that depends on how organized the user was in the sense that all the apps source software is labeled and at hand.

Regards - Charles

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Old 29th July 2005   #8
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The only way I would do it would be to format the drive, and do a clean install of the OS only. Apps & other software is for the next user to install.

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Old 29th July 2005   #9
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masonite

If you do anything other than FORMAT and start over, I hope you are taking into consideration the System Restore Points. And handling them properly.

I am sure that you would not like the problems that can arise if you do all the work of cleaning up and/or making changes and then an older RP get used.

A bit of SAD experience writing here.

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Old 30th July 2005   #10
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Guys (and\or gals), I really do appreciate your inputs. I've posted this same query on several other 'Help' forums and gotten nowwhere; responses have been bland, ignorant, uninformed and unhelpful to the extent that I've suddenly (naiively, maybe) realised were formulated simply to boost a 'post-count'. Like, 'I know sod-all about your problem but I'll post something anyway because it'll look as though I know what I'm talking about and it'll boost my stats".

This doesn't seem to be the case here on the Windows BBS forum; people seem to be interested in being helpful without some sort of reward (W_T_F is the 'mission' of Expert's Exchange?)

So thanks to all who've contributed. As I said, I think my system worked pretty well, except for the random registry entries, which, after all, could be cleaned out one by one, after chasing them down with RegSeeker or something similar.

I think that what I have established is that it is NOT possible to do what I asked, simply. Obviously Windows wasn't designed to make this kind of thing easy (hmm..what was Windows designed to make easy, anyway - crashes?)

Once again - thanks, folks :--))

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Old 30th July 2005   #11
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Good morning and thank you.

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