A guy sells MacBooks on eBay, and here is the email he sent me regarding my questions. The part that I do not understand is in bold.

That is what I do for this business is sell used macbooks. We buy these in large quantities and wipe them, load new operating system and sell them. The battery is good, this unit does have some imperfections that we have either pictured or described in the listing. Please read entire listing to make sure you know what you are buying. As for shipping it is @ 70.00 shipping to you.

Does "wipe" mean "to refurbish"?

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    Note that the English in this example is poor, though wipe is used in a standard sense when talking about computers.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 14:05
  • Does "wipe" means to refurbish? No, it means to erase / delete / remove data from a hard disc.
    – user14103
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 0:06

2 Answers 2


It could mean that the data is erased, or it could imply a more thorough erasure.

The Hacking Lexicon mentions:

Erased data can frequently be retrieved through forensics on the magnetic material of a hard-disk drive or backup tape. So-called "magnetoresistive microscopes" have been developed that painstakingly scour magnetic media, and are able to reconstruct the magnetic image of a disk surface. This will show the faint residue of overwritten data. A common security measure is to "wipe" all traces of the data from a machine. The wiping process usually involves:

  • Clearing caches and logfiles. Example include browser caches, cookie files, history logs, and recently used document lists. Note that passwords are often stored in cookies and history URLs.
  • Hard-disks "erase" files by simply removing their entries from the directory. The files still exist on the hard-disk. The first step of wiping is to actually erase them by overwriting that area of the disk.
  • Overwriting erased areas of the hard-disk at least 7-times (DoD spec) in order to remove all magnetic traces. Forensics specialists can usually read data from a disk that has been overwritten only once.
  • Wiping the pagefile. Most programs do this by repeated allocating all possible memory in the system then freeing it, multiple times.

So the true meaning of wipe in the text that you cite might depend on who wrote the sentence – was it authored by a marketer, or a technician? A marketer might use the word wipe even if the company only performs a simple erasure of data on the refurbished hard drives, implying some of the old data could still be read with some sophisticated retrieval techniques. (Or sometimes files just get left on inadvertently.) However, perhaps the company is more careful than that, and the data is meticulously overwritten with 1's and 0's multiple times to prevent any of it from being readable again, even through computer forensics.


In my opinion, wipe here means, removing all the content in the macbook (like files, folders, operating system, etc) and then installing new operating system.

  • 2
    You and I agree, then – the word wipe might not always mean the same thing. That's why my answer delves into a little more detail. In general, the Stack Exchange discourages opinion-based questions (questions can even be closed if they are deemed "primarily opinion-based"). Therefore, it's usually best to support your answers, either by citing some credible source, or by giving more than one possible interpretation. Otherwise, how is anyone to know if your answer is trustworthy, or a mere guess?
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 9:54
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    P.S. I'm trying to be friendly here as well – thanks for your positive attitude :^)
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 9:55
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    Not sure of the value of answers that start off "In my opinion". It makes Stack Exchange not a very useful reference. I really believe that if you're not sure of the answer, you shouldn't be posting it. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 19:00
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    @J.R. Thanks for clarifying that "in my opinion" was your edit. I had missed that detail. However, "according to me" suffers from the same problem as "in my opinion"; unless the respondent happens himself to be a reputable source. His comment that includes the words "... i cannot claim to be 100% sure ..." suggests that this is not the case. I am strongly opposed to "guesses" appearing as answers on any stack exchange site, and I usually apply downvotes liberally in such cases. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 19:21
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    @DavidWallace - Actually, I'm appreciating your comments; they show I'm not some lone curmudgeon who needs to take some Xanax or something. And even if this answer doesn't get improved, exhortations are often good for subsequent answers. Hopefully the future will have more nuggets like, "According to Oxford...", or, "According to Webster...", and fewer that say, "According to me...".
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 20:10

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