How do I completely wipe a hard-drive?
Hello folks. I have a bit of a problem, and I'm hoping that the diaspora* community may be able to offer up some advice.
Now I know a little bit about some basics, but I am certainly no computer savvy person. So I need your help, if you can offer any.
Some time ago, I bought a yard-sale Lenovo laptop. Yeah it showed as having a 250GB HDD and 2GB RAM, but its rather small, and I don't need it for mass storage or gaming and such. All I wanted it for was an email, social-media checker, and storing music and some photos etc.. You know a nice, small laptop that in fact, would actually fit in my purse! Probably a silly idea, but I got it super cheap since the seller said it would just randomly "lock down". I get the thing home, and think I have this figured out. I do a full reset and re-install of a new Windows-8. Confident that a new install of Windows will solve the problem. Everything went well, all previous user data was gone, and it took to win-8 quite well. I used the computer for about a month with absolutely zero issues. I used it for everything I would normally use a computer for. Even the battery was amazing. Then one day, I opened the screen and some box had popped up saying some B.S. like, "This computer is locked by * insert scammy title here * Call 1-800 - obvious India tech scam to unlock" Ahh, the problem finally reared it's ugly head!
Well I just said forget all that mess and ran the full recovery again. I didn't store anything on it that wasn't already stored on my main PC since I was still testing it out, so I lost nothing. So I did the recovery, and the computer booted. Within seconds, the same scammy pop-up. I searched this so-called "company" and all I found was a Facebook page. So using a disposable, false, Facebook account, registered to a disposable email account, I messaged the page. They said that I needed to send the computer in whole back to them at my costs, and they would unlock the computer, and send my data back on a USB stick.... I promptly told them what to go do with themselves, reported the page for scamming, blocked them, (from my real account) and wiped the computer again, this time installing just a bootleg windows. Same B.S. !! After going in and changing Email, social-media, and other online account passwords, (just in case) I tried one more thing..
I took the hard-drive from that laptop and put it into another old laptop and booted it up. The window popped up again. I swapped the drives back, and the second laptop returned to normal. This tells me that the "lockdown" is in some partition of the hard-drive. I went out and bought another hard-drive, got it home, and NO GO! The new hard-drive was like 2mm thicker than the original and the pins wouldn't line up. I could tilt the new drive slightly and get it to plug in, and the connector flexed a bit when I went to put the cover on. But the cover bulged out out enough so that the screws would not properly engage the body. So, that's a "nope" on that. So here I am, out for the money for the laptop, Copy of Win-8, and new 500GB hard-drive and STILL have no working laptop to show for it.
Here is what I want to do:
I would like to know if there is some way to totally wipe every single bit and byte of data, including every hidden partition from that hard-drive, then reformat it and install a new O.S. like I would with a brand new one. I'm hoping this would eradicate this apparent "ransomware virus" that was on it. The other laptop that I tried the hard drive in, suffered no issues once getting it's original drive back, and still works fine (for it's age) to this day. I even scavenged the larger RAM from the locked laptop, and use it in the other one. No issues. This has me convinced that it is not some bug in the processor, or hidden bug in the ram or anywhere else like that. It's obviously contained in the hard-drive. So is there any way to do that? Some program, some process, strong magnetic field, or something else. there has got to be a way..
Finally, I want to give Linux a shot. Rather than Windows, which I'm not willing to pay for again on a "maybe", I figure that Linux is something I could experience if it all works out. And, If I like Linux, I may just switch my main desktop over to it. All I'll need to do is buy another RAM chip, and I'll be ready to try this.
So what do you think? Doable? Or should I just bite the bullet, and haul my cheap, penny-pinching butt out and just get a new (proper-fitting) hard drive for it? Or, should I just leave the darn thing dis-assembled in it's box buried under the old high-heels, too-small jeans, and dust-bunnies in the back of that black-hole I call a closet?
I really liked that laptop, and it has "nifty" features that I liked, decent speakers for a laptop, good display , with nice color and brightness, a little red mouse "button" in the keyboard, along with a typical touch-pad, small form factor, no needless optical drive, and satisfyingly, NO camera.