Skip to comments.How To Wipe Your Hard Drive
Posted on 09/03/2006 8:58:26 PM PDT by canuck_conservative
Erasing data from a computer is not as simple as the manufacturers would have you believe. Just deleting it or reformatting the hard drive does not remove the data, and the secure removal of data about individuals by companies is now a legal requirement.
There are a number of methods used to "delete" data from a hard drive. These methods do not remove the data, they simply make space available for the system to use when next required. The data remains on the disk. Readily available software tools can be used to restore the data. Some are even free.
When data is deleted, all that actually happens is that the computer marks the space as available for reuse - it does not remove the data. The only way to remove it is to overwrite it. But failing to delete data may result in identity theft, financial loss, fraud or blackmail. Such concerns have prompted Microsoft to add a drive encryption feature called BitLocker into its new Windows Vista system to protect data on a PC.
According to Nick Coleman, chief executive of the Institute of Computer Security Professionals, the Glamorgan research highlights a glaring problem for the computer industry. "This is about how you manage data to the end of its life and what is best practice. People are used to buying shredders to get rid of paper information; now they need to be pointed in the direction of properly accredited people who they know are competent to destroy the data for them."
There are disk wiping utilities and programs available that will erase data if correctly used. Some programs erase the entire disk, while others allow you to select which files or folders to erase. It is important that the utility or program provide an option to erase free space.
Life Cycle Services has a list of data removal programs and instructions at:
any computer Im thinking of passing on gets the hard drive magnetized and smashed to bits.
Well, that's a nice advertisement.
Free program by one of the experts -
Wiping a 250 GB hard drive takes a long time -- multiple hours
Anyone heard of BlastFurnace 1.0?
And more effective than alot of the programs. Unless a program says it erases a HD to Mil-Spec I wouldn't trust it.
Cyberscrub professional up to 35 pass sanitizer Gutmann.
F-Disk and Reformat works for me- can they get it back after that?
I like heat, and now days the platters are made of aluminum rather than glass. Aluminum melts at 1100, and becomes like plastic at 800 /aprox>
It would only take about 1 hour to overwrite everything with pictures of Pee Wee Herman. Make the damn interlopers think they scored paydirt, so they have to sit through an 8 hr slide show of Pee Wee's best.
ping for later
No, just be sure and "delete" your information before you format and it is gone for ever.......not.
I like pgp's wipe program, up to 33 passes, on a multigig HD though, I feel for ya!
Quick formatting and repartitioning simply gets rid of the areas of the drive which describe how the data is stored, not the data itself. There are utilities that can scan through the drive and recover things that are not in the file table. If you do a full format (not a quick format), then yes, the average person will not be able to get the data back because it should all have been set to 0s. The government can still get data off of it, because there is still some residual magnetic signal left from the previous write, and if you know that every byte has been overwritten with a 0, and if you have the facilities, you can recover the data. If you really need to hide something from big brother, you overwrite the drive with random bits.
I routinely recover data from reformatted hard dives. In fact, in most cases, it's actually easier to recover the data if you DO format it.
The package also includes a free space wiping utility. It's best done while you sleep it takes hours on a big disk.
Every byte, excluding SOME damaged sectors, which is usually a very small amount of data. Ouick format, full format, low level format, makes no difference. I even recover data from drives with bad drive motors and fried circuts IF someone is willing to pay for it.
Dumb question here:
Can a hard drive, be truly destroyed by an hour or so, in a medium size campfire?
I am absolutely confident that no one will ever retrieve data off of any of the small slags of melted aluminum I pull out of the ashes the next day.
Usually, yes. But you'd better take a good look to make sure the case is melted, at least partially, and the platters inside are no flatter than a potatoE chip. You'd do best to fish the drive out of the fire while hot, and drop it in a bucket of cold water to make sure the platters shatter.
It costs about $9 for a #6 torx screwdriver, I believe that is the proper size, and you remove the HD and remove the screws and take the cover off and take out a half a dozen other screws and you can then remove the platters. Once you remove the platters, they are quite easy to melt down if they are metal, if they are ceramic, they can be pounded to powder in short order. Only when they are physically destroyed by grinding, melting, or total destruction are they safe from being recovered.
Back in about 1988, I got a call from my brother, who is a lawyer. He was meeting with a client who was leaving her job at an ad agency (or something) on less than favorable terms. She had a Mac that belonged to her employer and was worried they'd go over it and find stuff she'd deleted. So, what could I recommend?
At the time, I was into mainframes and Unix, and I had only a passing familiarity with Macs and PCs. I didn't know of any utilities, free or otherwise, and Google was still about a decade into the future.
So, I advised her to take an innocuous file and use the Finder's duplicate facility to duplicate it. Then duplicate the file and its copy. Then duplicate the resulting files. Until the drive fills up. Then delete the bunch and do it a gain a few times, each time starting with a file of a different size. I never did hear if they found anything.
The water seems like a smart idea. For the campfire too. :)
When I lived in Fort Worth there was a company near my house that specialized in recovering data from hard drives burnt in building fires. Buildings burn hotter than brush.
Usually when I need to get rid of them I've been burying hard disks in a shallow grave with a lot of lime. No, wait, that's not hard disks I'm getting rid of. Uh, never mind, forget I posted anything.
Read about it here.
So a large magnet left on the drive for a while might be the best way to go shy of destroying the drive then?
In most building fires, the PCs get damaged not by the fire but by the water putting out the fire.
I wouldn't bet on it. There's too much metal in the case to count on the magnetic field wiping out the bits on the platters. Physical destruction is the only way to be sure. The software suggested above to write multiple ones and zeros over your data is good enough unless the CIA thinks you are important enough to rewire your hard disk or look at the platters with an electron microscope.
Maybe. That's one I can't really answer. I don't know. But I'd be surprised if HD's are suceptable to any but the largest external magnetic sources.
Well thanks for the information.
I don't care for myself, but know lots of doctors who have business computers and they are not allowed by law to share patient information.
So far I have all such friends destroy their hard drives since so much potential damage to patients could be had.
Well, I just toss mine in the recycle bin. I the CIA wants to go read a few new beer cans, let them.
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