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Thread: Best Way to Wipe a HDD

  1. #1

    Best Way to Wipe a HDD

    So, it's pretty well established that it's almost impossible to permanently, irreversibly erase data from a hard drive, but I do understand that it can be made ridiculously, unimaginably hard to recover.

    So what do you think is the best way to do it? Is a clean reformat enough? What programs do you prefer to go a step further than that? I've heard of programs that basically "insert blanks" (as I'm told) to clean a HDD well.

    Reason I'm asking is we're getting ready to donate an old computer to a charitable organization out there that just got flooded (lost ALL of their computers). Since where I work is a financial company, however, making sure HDDs that we get rid of are totally clean is a BIG issue.

    So what do you suggest?

  2. #2
    Hoopy Frood
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    I recommend writing random bits to the entire drive more than once as a simple way to make data very hard to recover. Check out DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke) for your wiping needs. I think it will fit the bill nicely.
    Of the five different wipe methods it offers, it has at least one that meets the American DoD 5220-22.M Standard Wipe requirements. (Features.)

    - X
    "Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own."

    -- Søren Kierkegaard

  3. #3
    They call me the Hunted foxyloxley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    3rd Rock from Sun
    Do you need to re-use the HDD's ?
    Are they going out of your 'sphere of influence' [sold / given away]

    There are a variety of commercially available apps that will do the job to remove data beyond recovery [economical recovery that is]

    If you are just trashing them, then de-gaussing will obliterate the data AND destroy the platters [no more magnetic data on a platter that can no longer be magnetically changed]

    if selling / giving away :
    remove and trash those HDD's from sensitive machines,[servers ?] replace for your client [assuming client to be unable to supply their own HDD]

    run clean-up apps on the rest .............

    so now I'm in my SIXTIES FFS
    WTAF, how did that happen, so no more alterations to the sig, it will remain as is now

    Beware of Geeks bearing GIF's
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  4. #4
    DoD 5220-22.M is not good enough for top-secret data destruction. Those platters are electronically, chemically and physically "destroyed”. Then the pile of sh!t is hauled off by a truck to a undisclosed location. At least that's what I saw on the history channel about the pentagon, where they incinerate all of their paper trash on site. Where cost is king and where the data is worth that amount to have destroyed.

    If you’re that concerned and have the time, hook them up to a faster CPU and do more than 3 passes. But I wouldn't do one just from an app through the OS. Booting is my preferred method.

    It cost money to really recover hardcore.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    The best way to destroy the data on that harddisk would of course be by using a sledgehammer to smash it into pieces and then burn whatever remains just to make sure...

    But okay, you want someone else to be able to use this harddisk so destruction of the disk is not an option... So you should start with a low-level format of the harddisk. Then, as has been suggested, use some tool that will write random characters over every part of the harddisk. I think that Symantec has a tool called WipeDisk that could do this. Once it wiped the disk, just low-level format the disk again, with a second WipeDisk action.
    The next step is a simple one. Install Windows (or Linux) back on it. If you give that PC away, you'd probably want the recipient to have some operating system running on it too.

    The drawback, however, is that people with advanced tools might still be able to read some of the data that you stored on those harddisks. They will need very advanced equipment for that, though.
    Another drawback is of course that wiping a big harddisk in a secure way is very time-consuming. A harddisk of 60 GB could take half a day or even more before it's completely wiped.

    About that Symantec WipeDisk... I think that in their most advanced cleaning setup, they are NOT writing zero's to the disk but it writes some kind of pattern on it, and repeats writing different patterns to the same area a few times. It is pretty secure, yet still not as sure as the sledgehammer technique...

  6. #6
    THE Bastard Sys***** dinowuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Third planet from the Sun
    arch welders

    Burn several holes through the case. No one can retrieve the data. Period!

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Lol guys, I think DBAN, mentioned earlier, will be just fine in this case. No one's gonna take an electron microscope to these HDD's.
    It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

  8. #8
    Now, RFC Compliant! Noia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    I once got a shitty laptop from a former employer......that was fun......had alot of "Your eyes only". /me goes back to lurking in the dark.
    With all the subtlety of an artillery barrage / Follow blindly, for the true path is sketchy at best. .:Bring OS X to x86!:.
    Og ingen kan minnast dei linne drag i dronningas andlet den fagre dag Då landet her kvilte i heilag fred og alle hadde kjærleik å elske med.

  9. #9
    Old ancient one vanman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Freestate,South Africa
    I think it primarily depends on what you intend to do with it..Ppl who want to go to such extremes to get the data no matter what must really have a good reason for doing that..T he mafia for example comes to
    Practise what you preach.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    I'v said it before and I'll say it again, throw the thing in a river
    I am the uber duck!!1
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