Skip to main content
  • Place orders quickly and easily
  • View orders and track your shipping status
  • Enjoy members-only rewards and discounts
  • Create and access a list of your products
  • Manage your Dell EMC sites, products, and product-level contacts using Company Administration.

Dell Migrate User's Guide

Levels of erase

If you are selling, donating, returning, gifting, or transferring ownership of your Windows PC, you must erase your personal data from the device.

No data removal process leaves a hard drive or system as free from residual data as a new product. Dell makes no recommendations regarding the security needs of a customer or representations regarding the effectiveness of one method of data removal over another.

General levels of erase

There are different levels of data erase are:

  • Level 1—the first level of removing data is to delete the file. This level includes running commands such as fdisk or format on the drive. Deleting the file does not completely remove the data from the drive, and the data may be retrievable using specific software programs.
  • Level 2—the next level of removing data is an overwrite, is called a level 2 wipe. An application overwrites the part of the disk where the file previously existed. This level of data removal provides a higher level of comfort for home and small office users where customer or financial data are concerns. A level 2 wipe requires sophisticated tools to recover the data, and recovery is not certain.

    Data Assistant provides a level 2 erasure on the drive while retaining the partition used to restore the operating system. For more information about terms and conditions of the Data Assistant service, see

  • Higher level erase—Some users might need to meet requirements or standards, such as former Department of Defense method 5220.22-M or NIST SP-800-88, Revision 1. Specialized software is available to meet these requirements.
For more information, see How Do I Erase Data from My Hard Drive?.

Solid-state drive considerations

If you need a higher-level erase standards for your solid-state drive (SSD), you might must use manufacturer-specific, proprietary tools. It is recommended to contact the manufacturer of your SSD for more information.

Data Assistant

Data Assistant is designed to maintain a balance between utility, ease-of-use, and effectiveness by:

  • Being a simple-to-use solution, data erasing, and automatically restoring the system to the first-boot experience.
  • Erasing personal data to a reasonable standard such as level 2.
  • Retaining the usefulness of the PC by leaving the Windows operating system, reset capability, and drivers intact.
  • Running as a stand-alone software solution that does not require additional hardware or tools.

Higher-level erase solutions might:

  • Require additional hardware.
  • Delete all operating system and recovery partitions, leaving a blank hard drive without an operating system.
  • Not meet specific erasure standards.
  • Not guarantee that the drive is free from residual data.
  • Require manual steps and different media to restore the original functionality of the PC.

Data Assistant works by leveraging special recovery software that is built into modern Dell Windows PCs that includes both the ability to overwrite or erase user-addressable portions of the hard drive while also being able to reset the system to a new operating state. Data Assistant:

  1. Determines sectors of the hard drive that contain Dell OS Recovery tools.
  2. Overwrites all other sectors of the hard drive. These sectors are considered user addressable, and are located where personal data and the operating system is stored.
    NOTE This erase is more thorough than a level 1 erase, and might take several hours to complete.
  3. Verifies that all sectors have been successfully overwritten.
  4. Initiates Dell OS Recovery, which begins rebuilding the operating system and Dell tools, restoring the system to a first-boot experience.
NOTE There is no guarantee that erased data cannot be retrieved.

Rate this content

Easy to understand
Was this article helpful?
0/3000 characters
  Please provide ratings (1-5 stars).
  Please provide ratings (1-5 stars).
  Please provide ratings (1-5 stars).
  Please select whether the article was helpful or not.
  Comments cannot contain these special characters: <>()\