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Need to erase a hard drive

By rbuck ยท 19 replies
Jan 4, 2004
  1. Can anyone suggest to me a way to "CLEAN" a hard drive so that info on it is not recoverable. Is there a good cheap piece of software that will do it?

  2. vassil3427

    vassil3427 TS Rookie Posts: 633

    Cheap? Get a log or two, get some matches...They melt really easily...Definitly no way to get the data back....lol..I dont have an answer, someone else will though...
  3. novicegamer

    novicegamer TS Rookie Posts: 82

    I would use a hammer
  4. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 896

    Hmmm...I belive Partition Magic with its secure erase is one of them. Killdisk Pro is
    another one.
  5. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,122

    The best way to destroy the data would be to destroy the platters inside the drive completely (burn them?).

    If, however, that is a little too extreme for your tastes, there are programs out there that will destroy the data to various degrees of efficiency, from difficult to recover, to downright impossible. These programs are called sanitizers. Mainly, they are small enough to boot from floppy, and will offer you the option to reset all bits to 1, or 0, or overwrite once, twice, etc, using various algorythms designed by very clever people from places such as the military.

    Better still is the fact that there's one particular sanitizer I know of out there that comes as a fully functional time limited trial, but I can't remember the name of it right now.
  6. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,488

    PcFormat seems to like "PAL Evidence Eliminator"...
    At least they bundled it with their Dec '03 mag...

    Anyways, if you choose that one, you'll have an option of wether to format the entire drive, or just certain folders...

    According to PcF the maximum setting when wiping (level 7) is the equivalent to what the US Dept. of Def. uses...

    But remember, doing it thoroughly takes time! It's too late to start when the feds are knocking at your door!

    ;) :D
  7. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,966   +223

    I wonder if no-one has not tested such software like this for review purposes and then sent them in to data recovery firms for verification on if they where successfull or not...

    I've heard some really crazy things, like CD's being readable after being cut into very many pieces, harddrives being fixable after having all data erased by "high-end erasers" and even data on harddrive recovered after fire...

    There was quite big sucess with some harddrives from the twin towers, having been crushed by a billion ton of other crap so...

    If you really want to do it right put it in a mill and mill that harddrive down to nothing but dust or throw it into the oven of an iron melter
  8. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,488

    I know that Norman has a harddrive wiper which was tested by the feds, but I'm not sure where you can buy it...
    It's not listed at their webshop, nor any mention of it one their site...

    The reason I know about it was that I was there for an interview, and was told about it as I would have to support that program too...

    On a side note, I'm not quite sure how easy it'd be for a private person to get a hold of software like the one from Norman... If you're a psychiatrist or doctor or something like that, yes, but then you need such software for when you're throwing your old computer away, but not if you're just a guy downloading pr0n from the net... (Unless it's child porn, and then.........!!!!!!!!!!!)

    Just to clarify.. I'm not saying rbuck is downloading child porn or anything like that!
    My point was that most programs which erases a harddrive won't be able to withstand the most determined law enforcment agencies, but are easily available on the market for anyone... Those programs that does stand up to those law enforment agencies isn't as easily available, as most people has no need for such protection, unless they're doing something really illegal...
  9. BrownPaper

    BrownPaper TS Rookie Posts: 406

    if you want to destroy your drive, get the platters out of the hard drive and let it soak in some really strong acid. that'll do the trick.
  10. rbuck

    rbuck TS Rookie Topic Starter

    No guilt just necessity!!

    Wow did I open a mess! I just want to make sure I have all of my personal finance and tax data completely gone from my HD before I sell it! Never have opened a porn site of any kind and never will!

    Case Closed!!
  11. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,512   +65

    Wipe 90 times if you'd like. A good data forensic facility will always be able to get back bits and pieces of what you worked so hard to get rid of.
  12. snowman

    snowman TS Rookie Posts: 183

    what if you use a program like drive scrubber and then reformatting to a new file system. like from NTFS to FAT32?
  13. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,512   +65

    As far using "wiping" utilities... I think you are pretty safe. Only a handful of people in the world have the combination of want, money and means to retrieve data from that drive.

    Not to mention that an extremely large percentage of people out there don't care or even know that your data on a formatted drive is retreivable.

    I know if I recieved a used drive, I wouldn't bother trying to get data back even though I have the means to do it.

    So just wipe it using a secure erase program (will take a long time) and I think you'll be fine. The percentage of the able and willing is extremely small, and secure wiping does a very good job at removing the data. Only the truly paraniod should be concerned.
  14. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,488

    Re: No guilt just necessity!!

    Sorry. I didn't mean you had, or was going to... Just got into a bit of a rant...

    Rick is quite right that using a(ny) data eraser program will suffice... Most people won't have the knowledge to retrieve the data, and those that do don't have a reason to do so...

    If you're really scared, use an eraser, copy the drive full of BS (any data cd you have lying around), then use the erase again... That'll make it even harder to access for those who knows how...
  15. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,929   +15

    Yeah just format it, fill it, and reformat. Then if they can bring data back, it'll be the stuff you refilled it with ;)
  16. climbamtn

    climbamtn TS Rookie

    this has been beaten quite enough but my two cents worth is; i use Ace utilities to hide my child porn :) try http://www.acelogix.com/
    again they have a free trial version. i like free trials
  17. Brona

    Brona Banned


    You can try Active@ Killdisk- it works really great. It is capable of erasing info so it can not be reocvered. It confirms many security standards such as DoD and Guttmans. After using it you should re-partition and re-format drive to use it from scratch. You can get it at http://www.killdisk.com
  18. tdeg

    tdeg TS Rookie Posts: 109

  19. patio

    patio TS Guru Posts: 480

    I keep all of my HDD's...
    The machines i re-furbish and donate have new HDD's and an OS installed.

    patio. :cool:
  20. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,009

    thers a simple utility out ther called zapit
    uses dos cmds on boot from floppy will write zeros to disc
    if you got the time
    I use staganos to over write d.o.d. approved
    I have tested with the best software out there for recovery
    stuff is truly gone warning it will take lots of cpu time.
    don't use big ugly magnets this will wipe the data put there by HDD manufacturer
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