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You've had a laptop provided to you by your workplace, you may have also used it for some personal web traffic. You've been asked to return it with your password while going on leave, what's the check list of what you should scrub/delete/leave intact?

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    I'd ask IT services if you can just wipe the whole thing and if they agree, overwrite the hd with 0 bytes. Trying to clear private data from a (windows?) machine that wasn't prepared for that eventuality is almost certainly futile. If your IT department is any good they have an easy way to put a laptop back into a pristine state and will do that anyway once they get the laptop back, so you won't inconvenience them. But do ask beforehand. – Out of Band Feb 4 '17 at 21:41
  • Yeah the machine is Windows, and it's not like it has Novell or whatever other kind of corporate Microsoft management add-on – raphael Feb 4 '17 at 21:43
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    I've worked for a small institutions IT. We'd just make an image of a system before giving machines out to users and restore the image when we got them back. Easier and faster than doing anything manually. That's really a poor man's solution and I'd be surprised if your workplace didn't at least do something like it... – Out of Band Feb 4 '17 at 21:51
  • depends on your activity, your work, and you; in short, not answerable here. – dandavis Feb 5 '17 at 2:34

I assume this question is about a short leave. In this case it might not be suitable to wipe the complete machine.

Dependent on the trust into you IT department, the following points may be good ideas:

  • Browser caches, stored passwords, forms, ...
  • Media Player caches
  • Password Manager
  • private files, including recycle bin. Of cause this does not wipe the data from HD,but makes it inconvenient to find.
  • all other programs you use probably store information ... you will never get them all if you do it manually.
  • unplug the SD card which is in the SD card reader and you always forget about :)

Actually, in most cases the IT department does not care. But you never know what a bored person might do with your computer. Moreover, probably the IT department is able to access the data on your computer at any time remotely.

For Windows 7 this question was already asked:

In Windows 10 there is also an out of the box soltuion. Goto
Start > Settings > Update & security > Recovery
taken from here:

Please feel free to edit the list.

  • I wanted to add "After emptying the recycle bin, use cipher.exe /w to overwrite any leftover data in the unused portions of a hard drive." (Otherwise deleted files might be wholly or partially recoverable.) However someone that knows Windows better than I should look into what is the best method to do that. TIL that (at least before Vista) remnants of files < 1KB might not be overwritten. Maybe it's better to use Sysinternals sdelete -z [drive] followed by cipher \w:[drive] – Future Security Feb 6 at 2:35

I would be concerned if your IT department is asking you to give them your password along with the machine. They should already have admin access so they shouldn't it. And most companies have very clear policies about never sharing passwords.

Also add to the list: Download list Download directory My documents / my pictures etc System temp folder User temp folder Check the hidden app and profile folders under your user Mozille profile directory / IE history / other browser equivalents. Clear down most recently used entries in registry

Then for total paranoia run a free space wiper to make sure deleted files are truly unrecoverable and file system has been purged of deleted filenames. Of course if it's all pristine this will be a dead giveaway you have been up to no good too.

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