How can I safely erase a hard drive? (1 Viewer)

ghudson

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I want to sell one of my old computers. I know deleting and reformatting the hard drive will not actually remove my personal data files. I have been googling but I do not trust a lot of the stuff I have found.

Can you recommend any freeware programs that will thoroughly erase the data on the disk so that nobody can recover the deleted data?

After the hard drive is erased, I then need to run my restore disks to install the original software and OS that the computer came with.

Thanks!
 

jamesmor

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If you're looking to make sure that the data is unrecoverable, the only actual solution is to destroy the drive.

For every tool out there to erase a drive, there's another to bring that data back.

If you're that concerned about your old data I'd recommend to destroy the drive and just put a new one in.
 

ghudson

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"For every tool out there to erase a drive there's another to bring that data back."

Sad but probably true. I do have too much personal stuff on that drive to allow an unscrupulous buyer to get their paws on.

Thanks!
 

Vassago

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It's not entirely true. I've been using this tool for years to remove everything off of my drives. It works very well. By repeatedly writing random code to the entire drive through multiple instances, it effectively removes all remnants hidden in the layers of the drive that may exist if someone cut the drive open and sliced down into the layers to read them individually. How many people have the tools or know-how to do that? Why would they go through that for your personal drive?

Check this tool, Eraser, out. It has multiple options for wiping, including the DOD recommended option for wiping secured and confidential information from their drives. Read the reviews.

http://eraser.heidi.ie/
 

ghudson

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Thanks Vassago, I will check that one out!

One question. After I use the Eraser program to wipe the drive... Do I have to use a DOS command to format the drive before I can insert and run the "restore" dvd's that I created to reinstall the original OS XP and software that came with my computer?
 

Vassago

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Thanks Vassago, I will check that one out!

One question. After I use the Eraser program to wipe the drive... Do I have to use a DOS command to format the drive before I can insert and run the "restore" dvd's that I created to reinstall the original OS XP and software that came with my computer?
I don't recall if the program can actually write partition table headers or if it's strictly an eraser tool. I *think* it's only an eraser tool. You'll still need to format the drive. A quick format should be enough though, since at this point you will have already completely scrambled the drive.
 

Minkey

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Looks good considering it's free though a quick glance in the forums and I would suggest you read up on how to do it properly.

I agree with Vassago I don't believe anything is immune there's always a better tool - military grade eraser = military grade recovery programme, I've even heard of physically damaged hard drive (with a hammer) data can still be recovered.

But on the up side most normal users don't care or don't know old data can still reside on a formatted disk but I do have one tip if you really are paranoid, if you have snesitive documents you can corrupt them befoe erasing and formatting, I wouldn't recommend doing this on large files but:

Make your backup copy (obviously)

Open the file with notepad (right click open with, choose program) and delete say the first 10 lines (if it's not a text file it will be gibberish), save the file - that will nuke the header. Obviously it won't work on a notepad or text file associated with notepad, and if you want to take it a level further change the extension to say whatever.0000
 

Vassago

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Looks good considering it's free though a quick glance in the forums and I would suggest you read up on how to do it properly.

I agree with Vassago I don't believe anything is immune there's always a better tool - military grade eraser = military grade recovery programme, I've even heard of physically damaged hard drive (with a hammer) data can still be recovered.

But on the up side most normal users don't care or don't know old data can still reside on a formatted disk but I do have one tip if you really are paranoid, if you have snesitive documents you can corrupt them befoe erasing and formatting, I wouldn't recommend doing this on large files but:

Make your backup copy (obviously)

Open the file with notepad (right click open with, choose program) and delete say the first 10 lines (if it's not a text file it will be gibberish), save the file - that will nuke the header. Obviously it won't work on a notepad or text file associated with notepad, and if you want to take it a level further change the extension to say whatever.0000
Corrupting the data is no different than what the eraser program will do. It writes random 0s and 1s to the drive. Trust me, there's only so many layers that are recoverable at that point. Even then, it would take the ability to cut the layers of the physical drive and special machinary to read them, just to TRY and recover some remnant of something. It's very unlikely if you follow the DOD protocol on Eraser.
 

conandeaniv

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There are ways you can erase files permanently. I used Winutilities its has a feature called File Shredder it has 2 way of clearing data the Shredder delete a specific files or Folder and "Wash free space" it clears the drive with any data deleted on it, example a newly formatted drive. If you have a better software utility look for a similar tool and its better to have partition drive that you created for exclusively for your files.
 

IAmNotABot

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I would recommend that you remove the hard drive and replace it with a new one. This way, you can be assured there is NO WAY that a new user could find that information.

If you have not done this before, the tools needed are common(phillips or flathead screwdriver), and 95% of the time there will be any issues using the original CDs/DVDs to reinstall it back to factory.

If you google for your computer model name and you find out that it has a 'recovery partion', it may complicate things a bit.
 

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