Here's what I did... HDD clean up
Since I was asked to come back on and post what I eventually ended up doing to resolve my needs of clearing the HDD to send the computer to our high school, here's what I did:
The first thing I did was turn off Windows Restore -- so that changes wouldn't be reversible; then I cleared all of the previous restore points in the history.
I ran a quick Disk Cleanup (Windows utility)
I went through add/remove programs and made a note of what I knew I didn't want to keep on the HDD program-wise.
I then ran CC Cleaner -- did a great job as usual.
I then ran Eraser -- it was very easy to use, very comprehensive and uses your choice of US standards/Gutmann's protocol/custom passes. This ensures that the data is overwritten a minimum of 3 times. It also had the option of overwriting all free space in the same manner. I made a point of choosing files/folders etc. to add to Eraser's list of things to delete/overwrite that included passwords, bookmarks, histories and the like.
Then I had a great idea (if I may say so myself!): I made the original Windows account (my son's profile) the admin account and password protected it. Subsequently,I set up a second account that I named after the group that my son is involved in at school that I gave limited access to. This account is the ONLY one the kids will be using. I felt that this gave me one more layer of control since my son is the only one that will be able to play around with some of the Windows controls, etc.
I then did a defrag just to move some of the stragglers around -- but to be honest, Eraser did most of that and it probably wasn't necessary.
When all was said and done, on a fresh boot, I regained at least 50% of HDD space back and when I checked the registry, .bak files, histories, restore points, etc., nothing was there that could be used by anyone. I feel pretty confident that the unit is ''good to go'' and am dropping it off at the school in about 2 hours!
Thanks to all of you for your advice and suggestions. I appreciate the feedback and am grateful to be a part of the great CNET community!
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