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General Hardware Discussion Hard drives, CD, DVD Monitors, All hardware questions not better served by our other Topics


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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 22nd June, 2005, 05:10 PM
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Erasing a HDD

I've just sold a laptop and need to erase the HDD. Whats the best way to go about this so that there is no trace of anything when the new owner gets it?

Thanks,

Laz.
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Old 22nd June, 2005, 05:25 PM
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If you're only interested in preventing them from using an "undelete" function, then a full format is sufficient. If you want to make it hard for them to recover files* even with some effort then there are a variety of free secure wipe programs about.

* the real experts can recover data overwritten dozens of times. Or so they claim.
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Old 22nd June, 2005, 05:28 PM
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Yeah you want a program tha doesn't just format the drive but actualy writes information to it as it does it, this would prevent all but the most persistant recovery procedures from finding anything

The ultimate boot cd probably has something on it that will do it if you don't have it already
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Old 22nd June, 2005, 05:31 PM
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something like this

http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/
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Old 22nd June, 2005, 05:31 PM
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You'd need to overwrite the data over seven times (with different patterns) to have confidence that the data has been removed. This has been demonstrated by forensics people.
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Old 22nd June, 2005, 06:58 PM
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hmm... ok I didn't have anything forensic in mind, but thanks all the same! Will probably use one of the freebies above.
Only one other question/clarification, I want to erase the primary drive. How do these programs erase themselves?
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Last edited by Lazgoat; 22nd June, 2005 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 22nd June, 2005, 07:37 PM
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Try this (DBAN), as it's a boot floppy that's designed specifically to erase the hard disk in a machine, regardless of the OS that's on the disk. It's also free.
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Old 22nd June, 2005, 11:21 PM
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This all depends on how much time you've got and how big the drive is. I'd personally want to do a 7-pass erase, which basically zeroes the entire drive 7 times. This takes quite a long time, though. I couldn't give you any specifics.

You all know I love to plug OS X whenever I can, so I'd like to take the time to say that Disk Utility (and thus the OS X boot disc) has this sort of functionality built into it. In fact, I see it's got an option for a 35-pass erase, which seems insane to me. I'd think that the 35 pass thing would take 24 hours or more.
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Old 23rd June, 2005, 09:53 AM
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The utility needs to write specific random patterns to maximise the number of transitions for each of the magenetic 'cells' that can store data. If it just writes zeros, then it's not worth erasing lots of times, as it's still possible to recover data, even after seven overwrites.

Most companies I have worked for don't do disk erasure. Instead, they go for secure destruction, where the hard disk is either melted or ground into dust.
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Old 25th June, 2005, 09:20 PM
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There is a great website http://videotech101.mindstrain.com that has free videos that describe how to wipe a drive. I found this site really helpful, and it has all sorts of free downloads and other repair tools and instructions on about everything you could need.
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Old 25th June, 2005, 09:43 PM
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I used DBAN as Aedan suggested. Its very simple and potentially deadly dangerous if the floppy drive gets in the wrong hands as its only a few keystrokes to erase the drive.
Thanks all.
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