How To Properly Wipe a Macbook


To wipe a computer means to make the data that has been stored on a hard drive inaccessible. It is sometimes used as a synonym for erasing said data in casual conversation. However, interested individuals should know that the two are not one and the same. This is because erasing is a rather misleading term in this context. The data isn’t removed at all. Instead, it is the file listing that has been removed, meaning that the data can still be accessed by those with the right tools. Wiping a Macbook is more thorough than that. After all, the most common method for wiping a computer sees the hard drive being overwritten bit by bit.

Why Do You Need to Wipe Your Computer?

Generally speaking, if someone is going to get rid of a computer, they should make sure to wipe it before either selling it, donating it, and otherwise getting rid of it. This is because computers store a lot of information through their normal use, which can be very problematic for said individuals if that information falls into someone else’s hands. Some people might think that they will be fine with just deleting everything of relevance. However, they should remember that they can’t delete something unless they actually know about it, meaning that there is no guarantee that they will be able to think of everything of relevance. For that matter, even if said individuals, it is very easy for people to forget one thing or another. When it comes to information security, even small mistakes can have horrible consequences. As such, it is best to wipe the computer for the sake of being thorough.

How Can You Wipe Your Macbook?

Whenever someone wants to wipe their computer, the first step should always be backing up anything that they want to keep. After all, the whole point of wiping a computer is making sure that nothing remains inaccessible afterwards. As a result, if someone forgets to back up something important, well, suffice to say that they won’t be very happy in the aftermath. In any case, backing up files has become easier than ever in modern times. Nowadays, interested individuals can do so over the Internet, particularly since cloud storage has become so readily available. Still, there is merit to using a combination of methods for extra redundancy. The classic rule for backing up files is called the 3-2-1 rule. Essentially, this means that interested individuals should make three copies of the information that they want to back up. After which, they should make sure that those are storied on two different media, with one copy being stored somewhere offsite. This way, even if interested individuals get hit by some kind of disaster, they should still be able to recover their information with minimal disruption. Of course, not every backed-up file has the same kind of importance, so interested individuals might not want to go to such lengths for absolutely everything. Moving on, some computers have built-in ways to wipe themselves, which makes sense because this is such a huge concern for such a wide range of people. For instance, a Mac comes with built-in capabilities of this kind. However, interested individuals should make sure to use the right series of steps.

If people haven’t upgraded to macOS Monterey, they should start by signing out of iTunes. This can be done by choosing Deauthorize This Computer, which can be found under Account and then Authorizations. They should note that they will have to enter their Apple ID plus password, though that shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Once that has been done, they need to sign out of iCloud. They should always go to the Apple menu and then System Preferences. Depending on the version, people might have to click on either Apple ID or iCloud before choosing Sign Out. It doesn’t matter whether they choose to keep a copy on the Mac or not because they will be wiping it anyways. Following this, there is signing out of iMessage, which can be done by going to Messages and then Preferences under the Messages app. Afterwards, hold Option, Command, P, and R for approximately 20 seconds to reset user settings, start up using macOS Recovery, hold Command and R, and then choose the Erase option for the Macintosh HD under Disk Utility.

Meanwhile, if people have upgraded to macOS Monterey, they should go to the System Preferences menu under the Apple menu in the corner of the screen. Conveniently, this includes an option called Erase All Content and Settings, which is exactly what it sounds like. Please note that interested individuals will be asked to sign in using their administrator credentials. After which, they will be asked to confirm their intentions. It will take some time for the process to finish up. However, once it does so, it should be as though it is being started up for the first time.

Does This Mean that Your Information Is Safe?

Be warned that it isn’t quite clear whether it is possible for overwritten data to be recovered or not. There are some authoritative sources that say that this shouldn’t be possible. Unfortunately, there are also some authoritative sources that seem to have the opposite position. As such, if people are still concerned about the safety of their information even after they have wiped their computer, well, suffice to say that there are even more permanent solutions to this particular problem. In short, there are hard drive shredders out there. These machines do exactly what they sound like, which is to say, physically destroy the hard drive until they can’t be pieced back together. Besides this, interested individuals should also remember that their information can leak in other ways as well. Due to that, it is a good idea for them to practice other ways of keeping their information safe. For example, this means setting long, unique, and truly random sequences of numbers, letters, and punctuation marks for their passwords that are never repeated and are replaced on a regular basis. Similarly, this means using anti-malware, avoiding suspicious links, and making sure that everything has been properly updated. In this as in other things, thoroughness makes for the best results.

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