Best Way to safely erase a HD

wingman411

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My friend wants to give away his old computer, but wants to erase all his personal data totally so it can't be undeleted.

What is the best freeware program to use?

Is there one that you can set the drive as a slave and then reformat the entire drive so it is safe to load windows and programs again?
 
Last edited:

tdinc

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Darik's Boot and Nuke

Darik's Boot and Nuke ("DBAN") is a self-contained boot floppy that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN is appropriate for bulk or emergency data destruction.

Download here

or you can use Eraser which also uses DBAN ( Dariks boot and Nuke)
Eraser software

To erase your entire hard disk:
Eraser uses the 'Darik's Boot and Nuke' disk option to erase all your hard drives.
To use this option:
1. Place a floppy (or CD) in your a: drive.
2. Click on the Start button and then choose Programs->Eraser->Create Boot Nuke Disk.
3. Ensure 'Writing on Floppy' is ticked. Tick 'Formatting' if your floppy needs to be formatted.
4. Click OK. Result: Your Boot Nuke Disk has now been created.
5. Boot up your PC with the floppy still remaining in your a: drive.
Remember: If you wish to erase the Hard Disk of another PC, then bring this Floppy to the PC, insert it into the a: drive and Boot it up.
Result: All drives will now be erased (including the Operating System)
IMPORTANT: USE WITH EXTREME CAUTION
For a summary:
'Darik's Boot and Nuke' ("DBAN") is a self-contained boot floppy that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.'
 

fitz

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normally, i recommend the Secure Erase utility that uses the built in function of almost every ATA drive since 2001. But the site that usually hosts it (http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/Hughes/subpgset.htm) is down/not available which actually makes me really bummed. I'll have to see if I can find the copy I downloaded back when I needed it.

The write up for it can be found on various sites (http://storagemojo.com/2007/05/02)

but it is, simply, the fastest and most effective way to make sure your data is erased and has been approved by the NIST (see NIST Publication 800-88 as 1 of 2 approved methods to protect erased data from labratory attack (degaussing is the other method).

edit:
found the file (attached)
 

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LordOfLA

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DBAN offers stronger overwrite than the NIST documentation.

However you need to realise that if a forensic lab wants data off your disk they will get it by some means. Electron microscopes and lots of time will often work :)
 

j79zlr

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LordOfLA

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actually data can be recovered easily at labs after fire and firearm damage.
 

gonaads

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The best and only way to erase a HDD is to physically destroy it. Find where the platters of the HDD are in the drive and draw a circle with a "Sharpie" marker about the size of the platters. Remember you are somewhat guessing as to the size but they go almost to the edge of the HDD housing Get a 1/2" electric drill, a 1/4" drill bit, a center punch and hammer, Now center punch 6 spots around the diameter of where the platers are but about 1/2" inward from the outer edge of the circle you drew for reference. Now get your electric drill and lock the drill bit into it and start drilling holes. They must go all the way through the HDD. Your drive is now secure no matter what they try to do to recover data. Now if you aren't too tired from all the drilling you can make more holes on the platters. The more the merrier. :D

Or... a HDD Degausser.

http://www.datalinksales.com/degaussers/v91.htm

Only problem with either of these two methods is that the drives are rendered useless, but HDD are fairly cheap these days and private information is priceless.
 
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fitz

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as i mentioned, the utility I attached has been tested and approved by the NIST as a valid alternative to degaussing and is considered the same effectiveness as degaussing. DBAN is actually not as effective when tested.

DBAN offers stronger overwrite than the NIST documentation.

However you need to realise that if a forensic lab wants data off your disk they will get it by some means. Electron microscopes and lots of time will often work :)

care to try to prove this? the NIST as well as other places such as the Center for Magnetic Recording Research have tested both overwrite utilities (such as DBAN) and found the secure erase command built into the ATA specification as more secure (and faster) than overwrite utilities and placed them at the same effectiveness as deguassing.

edit: ask yourself (And your companies lawyers) if DBAN will comply with any of the various regulations passed down ithat may apply to you (SOX, GBA, HIPPA, etc). I'm not saying that DBAN is bad.. I just don't believe it to be as good a method. As a bank, we were slammed by the fed/state auditors for using overwrite utilities which they did not view as good enough protection. We ended up renting a degausser and eventually found our way to the secure erase utility which has passed our federal and state audits.

Overwriting has some limitations such as erasing only to a drive’s Maximum Address, which can be set lower than its native capacity; not erasing reallocated (error) blocks; or missing extra partitions. External overwrites cannot access the reallocated sectors on most drives, and any data once recorded is left on these sectors. The secure erase command does not have these limitations as it is built into the drive firmware itself.

edit2: I suppose for true overkill, you can use secure erase, then run DBAN (or vice versa) then take your drill.. along with the thermite..
 
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LordOfLA

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I said fire or firearm, not an insanely hot reaction called thermite :) Thermite is not fire. It would melt the disk to oblivion.
 

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