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Erasing a Hard Drive Completely

What are the best free programs to do this?

     
3:01 pm on Oct 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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A friend of mine just sold her laptop on eBay. She was going to ship it to the auction winner without erasing her stuff first. I told her that this was not safe and that she should erase everything and reformat the computer. I know that the data could still possibly be retrieved from her computer even after doing that if someone was determined enough.

What are some free programs that will write over the hard drive multiple times making more difficult to recover any data from the drive? I am looking for solutions that are free and easy to use so that she could possibly do it herself. She is pretty good with computers but is by no means an expert user.

Thanks in advance for your replies.

3:21 pm on Oct 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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3:40 pm on Oct 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Is there a bootable CD that includes this Disc Wipe program anywhere?
3:58 pm on Oct 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Use "Eraser"
which contains in it's later versions
'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.'

go here

[sourceforge.net...]

then download version 5.8 or 5.6 ( 5.6- was the first version with self booting floppy containing a disc eraser ..better than discwipe ) ..more passes available ..more versatile ..still freeware ..

read instructions

you can also run it from a key drive ..if you can set your machine to boot from a key drive ..

HTH

[edited by: Leosghost at 4:00 pm (utc) on Oct. 2, 2006]

4:00 pm on Oct 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There are lots of utilities to 'wipe' files -- for example, the "My Documents" folder tree, which you might consider unless you're planning on re-installing Windows after you wipe the disk.

Jim

12:54 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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See this program, Kill Disk:
www.killdisk.com

More than everything, it's free :)

1:23 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Many hard drives come with a floppy disk with utilities, or you can download the utilities. Sometimes there is a test that you can run that will write zeros to drive.

Will this wipe it clean?

(uh, if the purchaser was expecting to get windos, better send the CDs too)

1:32 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Will this wipe it clean?

no

2:42 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I found an excellent free Boot CD called the 'Ultimate Boot CD'. This included DBAN, KillDisk, and a couple other programs that claim to wipe the hard disk clean. I used the DBAN program to wipe the disk clean using the 7-pass DoD method.

A big thanks to everyone who helped me out with this. Now my friend's identity won't get stolen. :)

3:29 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There's only one reliable way, and that's what's known in the computer trade as a "seven pound sledge".

Just remove the hard disk from the machine and whack it a few times. Never fails.

Some people go straight for the "Fourteen Pound Sledge", but that's just showing off.

3:33 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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You don't have to drill holes in it too?
3:44 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Probably overkill, especially with the cost of tungsten-carbide drill bits.

A quick once-over with an oxy-acetylene torch might work, but then there's all the bother of the Fire Brigade, insurance claims, and re-furnishing the lounge. Not to mention the Mirth of the Neighbours!

Can't beat that sledge ;)

3:46 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Wont even a one pass wipe make it unrecoverable by software means?
3:51 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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On TV, these guys can still get into it.
3:56 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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@maccas

absolutely not ..!

Even 7 pass or greater isnt 100% effective ( but is good enough to prevent ID theft worries ) you can still get back "bribes" "enough to tell you what to look for further because the write head doesnt lay down the track in exactly the same place each time ..so doesnt precisely overwite sectors ..

And when overwriting using a delete untility you must run the long version which includes overwriting cluster tips ..and you must use one such as eraser which overwrites the swap ..( many say they do ..eraser is the only one I have seen that actually does ) ..

dissassembling and then dissolving the entire drive in acid is the only way that I consider data to be totally unrecoverable ..

and requires less space than the 7 or the 14 lb sledge to do it in ;-)

4:44 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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How about disassembling the drive and discarding a few pieces at a time over a few months. Maybe cut the disk platters into pieces too.
4:56 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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you can only recover data from the platters ..the drive, arm , heads etc hold no data ..but discarding bits in the manner you suggest is not acting ecologically responsibly ..
5:47 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There's only one reliable way, and that's what's known in the computer trade as a "seven pound sledge".

There's another: tactical nuclear strike.
7:12 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Just remove the hard disk from the machine and whack it a few times.

Right. And then put it back in the machine and send it off to your eBay customer?

7:18 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There's only one reliable way, and that's what's known in the computer trade as a "seven pound sledge".

Words of caution before executing this task.

Be sure you are wearing safety goggles:)

7:55 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Acid? Sledgehammers? Software?

Anyone care to Degauss [garner-products.com]? Although, that renders the drive unusable, much like the acid and hammer tactics.

PGP wipe would work well. Blowfish, Anything that encrypts before wiping.

8:10 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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encrypted random data overwriting ..yeah I can go for that ..very spiritual ..;-)

degaussing always means I can't go through walls for couple of hours afterwards without getting stuck ..less'n I leave the cordless planchette and the tennis balls behind ..how 'bout you DG? ;-)

8:40 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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After a good Degaussing I just want a cigarette and a shot or two of good tequila...
8:52 pm on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I quit smoking years ago ...it was slowly cremating me ....
the tequila here is nothing to automatically write home about ..

side note .."here" only got allowed to download the 128 encryption tech stuff a few years ago ..we were not on the "trusted" list ..
6:37 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I always eat mine, no one can get their grubby mits on it then.