Erasing Data
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  1. #1
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    Question Erasing Data

    I'll be passing on some computer equipment shortly, including hard drives. Can anyone tell me whether a full format (as opposed to quick format) overwrites data sufficiently to stop someone else recovering it?

    I had thought of inserting any boot disc, vista or xp or whatever, and going as far as deleting the partitions and then formatting the whole drive, before cancelling the rest of the install. The drive would still emerge formatted?

    There's a hidden partition with recovery data on one of the drives (my Dad's), I'm assuming this will show in a boot disc? I don't see how else I can do it, I could scrub data but it would still leave Windows on the drive and I'd never be able to erase the partition containing Windows from within Windows.
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    Sorry Moira,

    Formatting does not erase data unless you use Vista, which will overwrite it with zeros.

    Try this:

    http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/

    or this:

    http://dban.sourceforge.net/

    You should run them from a boot disk or with the drive as a slave.

    As for the drive with a recovery partition, DBAN should do the job. That's the second link, and runs off a boot disk.

    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

  3. #3
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    Well, I can use Vista, that isn't a problem. Surely that would be simpler?
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    Hi Moira,

    I am not sure as I have never done it. The one question I would have is at what point does Vista check the hardware for suitability, compatibility and whatever? That might be an issue? I would very much appreciate it if you would try on the weakest machine and let me know what happens.............I know, I must buy myself a copy for Christmas ( that's the closest to a grinning reindeer we seem to have!)

    I generally overwrite with zeros or ones when I am doing a reinstall. For a redeployment I usually overwrite three times. That is a security issue. Nobody can recover anything useful from a triple overwrite.

    IMHO, a single overwrite would be adequate if you know where the stuff is going. If it is e-bay, then I guess I would add a couple of ounces of PE4 after a x3 overwrite

    Now that we have exchanged addresses I could always make you a few CDs/floppies and bung them in the post. I guess I ought to do that with copies of my toolkits anyway?

    Cheers,

    John
    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

  5. #5
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    That would be fantastic, thanks John! When I was trying to get OSX on an old mac, eventually someone from a mac forum offered to take my hard drive and install it up to the point where it would check for particular hardware etc. This was clearly after the OS was fairly comprehensively installed, as I took it back, put it in my mac and carried on with the install.

    The point is, while I have software to overwrite data many times, it works from within Windows so it won't overwrite Windows. That may not be critical as you could get away with just using it on the personal data and leave the system files to be overwritten when Windows was reinstalled - nobody is going to learn much from system files But if I want the entire disk wiped, I'm going to have to do it from outside the C drive. A linux boot disk might do it - formatting with the linux file system (ext 23) and then formatting again with NTFS wouldn't leave much!
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  6. #6
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    formatting with the linux file system (ext 23) and then formatting again with NTFS wouldn't leave much
    I could only manage a 97% recovery........... latest linuxes will overwite rather more?

    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

  7. #7
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    You mean your drive never again allowed you to use the full size? I wasn't intending to leave the drive formatted in ext 3 - err, where did the 2 come from, sorry that was a typo I failed to spot! I think since I've got a vista CD I should just format this drive using that. As this person probably doesn't know how to install an OS I'll probably have to put one on. The PC going first is a Dell Dimension belonging to my Dad who's getting a new imac - it would be easiest just to leave the hard drive where it was. The other option is to put the drive in my PC as a slave here and format it. The main query was whether using the format command in windows and opting for a full format instead of a quick one, erased data thoroughly enough. The Dell won't run Vista so it looks like I'll have to put XP on, but formatting in Vista first. I was hoping it would be sufficient to cancel the install after formatting the drive and then install XP.
    Last edited by Moira; November 18th, 2007 at 03:51 PM.
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  8. #8
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    Hi Moira,

    What I meant was that I could recover around 97% of the contents of a folder that had accidentally been "overwritten" (formatted) with a Linux file system.

    With DOS there was an option to overwrite with a pattern but Windows did not do that (unless you booted with a DOS disk first and ran the format from there).

    Vista is the first Windows to actually overwrite the drive, so you need to bear that in mind if you use it to format. In the past you could format the drive and still recover the data.......... with Vista you can't.

    Do all these machines have a working CD or 3.5" floppy drive?
    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

  9. #9
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    My Dad's doesn't. But I can take over a Vista CD and format the drive - it should do the format even if the install is subsequently cancelled. Even if the install runs its course it'll be easy enough to subsequently install XP. I could bring it over here (and attach as a slave), but it would be easier to take it straight from his house to the place it's going to.
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  10. #10
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    Hi,

    Does your dad's have a 3.5" floppy drive and do the others?

    I have just made a DBAN (Darik's Boot And Nuke") bootable floppy that will wipe the lot for you. I can stick it in the post to you Monday if you like?

    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

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