Securely wipe a hard drive (ah, but a catch!)

Discussion in 'General Software' started by DeaconFrost, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. DeaconFrost

    DeaconFrost [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Is there a Windows program that will securely wipe a hard drive's contents? I have a number of old HDDs we are going to get rid of, and I was planning connecting them to my external USB ports, as opposed to powering on and off a spare system each time I need to use a new drive? I'd rather just connect them to a running system and blank each one.
     
  2. PTNL

    PTNL [H]ardness Supreme

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  3. DeaconFrost

    DeaconFrost [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I don't see it listed in the features, but does it have an option for erasing an entire drive, without booting to DBAN? I don't want to erase all drives in the system, especially since I need the system to be running and doing other things at the time.
     
  4. PTNL

    PTNL [H]ardness Supreme

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    All of your comments are why I recommended Disk Eraser instead of DBAN.
     
  5. Joe Average

    Joe Average Ad Blocker - Banned

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    Eraser doesn't offer the option of working with removable/USB drives: you can erase files on those drives, but you can't do the total wipe job which is what the OP seems to be asking for. When erasing entire hard drives, Eraser defaults to using DBAN as noted here:

    http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/faq.php#erase hd

    He'd be required to make the boot floppy/CD, and take the machine down, and then he'd have to make sure the external drives are recognized by DBAN in the first place - and then be superextrahellacareful to make sure he's not wiping out his primary drives, which is a rookie error I'm sure every one of us has made at one point or another.

    Also noted here with some pics, check that erasing the entire drive isn't an option as that's a reserved function only for DBAN:

    http://secure.nd.edu/disposal/eraser.shtml

    ps
    If you have a Mac someplace around, Disk Utility is pretty spiffy in that respect: plug the drive in, do the wipe with whatever amount of passes you want. That's +1 for OSX, actually.
     
  6. Jon855

    Jon855 Sarcasm Eludes Me

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    +1 Use this, you'll be fine, you can even use this to wipe free space on the hard drive anyways. Then afterwards, you can just format the hard drive to whichever format you like.
     
  7. PTNL

    PTNL [H]ardness Supreme

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    Wrong.

    Those pics only show some of the functionality of eraser. To erase the empty space of a drive, you'd right-click on the drive icon, and select "Erase unused space".


    @DeaconFrost -- Disk Eraser is one application that can do the job. To keep things simple I'd suggest doing a "Quick Format" on the drive, then do the step described above for "Erase unused space".


    @Joe Average -- Spend 20 minutes with this application to learn what can and cannot be done, you'd be better for it. I agree that from one perspective that DBAN reduces some steps, but it's out of scope of the OP's requirements and preferred approach.
     
  8. Joe Average

    Joe Average Ad Blocker - Banned

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    Been using it for many years now, with thousands upon thousands of drives erased properly, so don't jump to assumptions that will bite you in the ass. And my original statement holds true; erasing the "free space" is not the same as doing a proper secure wipe.

    And the suggestion to format the drive (even a QuickFormat) and then turn around and "Erase unused space" is cute. Besides, the name of the app is Eraser, just... Eraser.
     
  9. DeaconFrost

    DeaconFrost [H]ardForum Junkie

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    In using this Eraser program, it appears that I'll have to create a partition on each drive, and then create a new task to erase all unused space from the drive?

    I guess I should have mentioned that all of my drives have had their partitions cleared, so they are currently unformatted.
     
  10. Joe Average

    Joe Average Ad Blocker - Banned

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    Eraser can't "see" drives unless they have a file system of some kind on them, that's the problem here. While I haven't used Eraser in over a year, I just grabbed the latest version (v5.86.1) and put it on a laptop I have here, with a 60GB Toshiba 5400 rpm 16MB laptop drive in a USB 2.0 external case. Plugged in the drive, used Disk Management to remove all the partitions leaving 55.1GB of unallocated space, fired up Eraser and...

    Eraser can't even see it.

    The options in the laptop are the C: drive (ain't happening since that' has XP Tablet on it) and Local hard drives (which would be C: since it's the only one with a file system on it - Eraser can't "see" the Toshiba since Windows can't see it either). The Windows version of Eraser doesn't have some magical low-level access to hard drive media - if Windows can't see the drive (meaning no real filesystem on it) then he's out of luck there.

    Soooo...

    For all those drives Deacon has, he'd have to format each and every one of them individually - a waste of time - just to be able to securely wipe each and every one of them individually. Any Windows-based secure wipe utility will encounter the same problem: they use the Windows APIs for hard drive access, and if Windows can't see or do anything with the drive, the utility won't either.

    DBAN doesn't have this problem, of course.
     
  11. DeaconFrost

    DeaconFrost [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Sounds like I'll just grab an spare old tower, and do them one by one with DBAN. Thanks!
     
  12. PTNL

    PTNL [H]ardness Supreme

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    The drive has to be visible in "My Computer" for Disk Eraser to work. Hence all of my previous comments. DBAN was not an option until DeaconFrost re-evaluated everything involved -- both stated in the posts and the factors not stated in the posts.

    And like I've already pointed out, using Disk Eraser was not the approach that had the least number of steps but did meet the criteria and preferences in the first post of this thread. Only recently did we learn the status of each drive (ie: not having a partition), meaning that the OP has an extra step in the process, but still met the guidelines established at the top of the thread.


    @DeaconFrost -- Good luck!
     
  13. pigster

    pigster [H]ard|Gawd

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    We destroy our hard drives before trashing them by drilling a couple of holes through them.
     
  14. SockMan!

    SockMan! 2[H]4U

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    If you're fine with just zeroing the drive, then WD LifeGuard Diagnostics for Windows will do the trick. It wipes the drive rather than a formatted partition. It'll do this for any drive, not just Western Digital.

    For more secure wipes, I'd stick with DBAN.