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Thread: Erasing Data

  1. #31
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    This was referring to XP actually .... but good news! I got your package with the CD and floppy today! Thank you so much, I can now just use these utilities
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  2. #32
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    It is Darik's Boot And Nuke (DBAN)

    The comment about XP writing zeros is incorrect. It, does not, and there is no option to get it to do so.

    In versions of Windows before Vista the difference between a "quick format" and a "full format" was that you could use the QF on known good drives that were already formatted. FF is for drives that are unformatted or formatted for something other than the version of Windows you want to use.

    Here is the site of a well-known data recovery software house:

    http://www.stellarinfo.com/

    You will notice that they specifically mention recovery from drives that have been "formatted".

    This is slightly misleading as they also imply that it will work with Vista, well it probably does, and will recover from most things except a full format

    I have done many formats and reinstalls in my time and I normally use the HDD drive manufacturer's toolkit when I want to overwrite the existing data prior to reinstallation. Mostly this is because the tool is better at detecting and repairing disk problems than Windows

    I have also recovered data from many drives that have been accidentally formatted, even one that had been formatted for Linux!, although that wasn't 100%.

    So far, I have only been brought one drive that was reformatted in Vista. I couldn't find any data on it, because it had all been overwritten.

    The theory of being able to recover data once it has been overwritten is just that: a theory. I have seen the results in carefully controlled laboratory conditions (i.e. artificial conditions) but have never heard of it in real life.

    There is certainly no software recovery method, and the physical process is destructive. It also takes a very long time and is very expensive.
    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. #33
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    LOL, sorry about messing up the original post, I've more or less restored it to the original format!

    I'll check whether martin was specifically referring to Vista or XP or both there. However, the bulk of that statement has also been clarified by another expert in the field. I accept recovery is possible, but it would be hightly unlikely anyone would try to recover data from a fully formatted drive and a new OS install (and very expensive).

    I can't argue with either Sean's or Martin's statements as they both are really off the planet with this sort of knowledge, but I'm also not saying you're wrong either.

    In particular, this line is hard to refute - I wouldn't have thought someone without the knowledge could have made it up:

    it's technically possible that the old data still "shines through" - as in where there used to be a 1, there's now a 0.0001, and where there used to be a 0, there's now a 0.
    Last edited by Moira; November 22nd, 2007 at 03:01 PM.
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  4. #34
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    I accept recovery is possible, but it would be hightly unlikely anyone would try to recover data from a fully formatted drive and a new OS install (and very expensive).
    Wrong! relatively inexpensive or possibly even free software will do the job. I base that on my own experience and what is on the Microsoft site regarding full formatting in various versions of Windows.

    Only a full format in Vista will overwrite data areas. The others just overwrite the references to the files & folders........... the actual raw data are still there and can be recovered.

    It helps if you consider your disk space utilisation?

    Say you take a brand new hard drive, format it, then load some applications. Then you re-format it and do the same thing. All you will do is overwrite the exact same data areas on the drive?

    Now, when you start using the apps to create data, start adding new apps and so on, you are writing to a different area of the HDD? This will not be overwritten by a format and re-install of the OS, and is available for recovery.

    To make your proposal work, you would need to check your diskspace utilisation first. Follow the reformat and reinstall routine THEN:

    Load some very large games, demos or whatever so that you go well beyond the previous used space total. Then just delete the games etc.

    Hopefully, all the recovery software will find will be the deleted games, as they should have overwritten what was previously there.

    I can't say that I would like to rely on that method though. Using a proper erasing tool is far more reliable, particularly as it addresses the problem of cluster tips or slack space.

    it's technically possible that the old data still "shines through" - as in where there used to be a 1, there's now a 0.0001, and where there used to be a 0, there's now a 0.
    That is called "magnetic remnance", the other concept is "track overlay", which is where the heads don't write to exactly the same spot each time, so there are traces of previous data at the edges.

    Yes, I too have read Dr. Peter Gutmann's paper of 1996 (" Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory "). It was based on research conducted previously so the hard drive technology has changed a lot since then. I would chose the word "theoretically" as opposed to "technically" because I do not think that the technology actually exists in the real World.

    Sure, I have seen proof of concept exercises but they were not very good and in totally artificial environments.

    The bottom line is that all you need to do is fully wipe the drive with a tool such as DBAN and you will be secure. No software recovery technique will work, which puts it out of the budgets of individuals and even police forces.



    EDIT: This is a little tool I use to check out file recoverability and whether everything has actually been erased?................ it is free.

    http://www.theabsolute.net/sware/dskinv.html

    Be prepared for a shock!
    Last edited by nihil; November 22nd, 2007 at 06:18 PM.
    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. #35
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    Yes a double post.

    Here is a free disk defragmenter:

    http://www.auslogics.com/disk-defrag/

    Download and run it (Win 2000, XP, Vista only) then look at where Billy Windoze has put your data on your HDD................

    I rest my case
    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?

  6. #36
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    I've actually got that utility. Really I can't say more until I've had a word with the people who gave me the previous information and I just haven't had time yet. But I won't forget, and in any case intend to use DBAN as you so kindly sent it.
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  7. #37
    Agony Aunty-Online Moira's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moira View Post
    This was referring to XP actually .... but good news! I got your package with the CD and floppy today! Thank you so much, I can now just use these utilities
    I know this is an old thread, but I came across it and I think we got rather muddled because I made a fundamental mistake in the first sentence of this post - I should have said "This was referring to Vista actually".

    No big deal ..... but I just thought I'd post this so the thread made a bit more sense.
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