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How To Wipe Your Hard Drive
Future Intelligence ^ | August 10th, 2006 | Peter Warren

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:

www.howtowipeyourdrive.com


TOPICS: Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: computersecurity; harddrive; hd; identitytheft
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To: patton

I've got nothing to hide. I am not a doctor with personal patient information on the HD either.

In my many years of computers, did have one HD fail. An 8 year old IBM thinkpad.


51 posted on 09/03/2006 10:16:15 PM PDT by A CA Guy (God Bless America, God bless and keep safe our fighting men and women.)
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To: canuck_conservative

Another tale from my mainframe days (mid 80's) ...

We needed more disk space on our computer, so we purchased some used 3380 hard drives. These things came in cabinets the size of double refrigerators. A cabinet held a pair of modules (if memory serves), and each module consisted of two spindles with a common drive mechanism. We're talking a dozen or two gigs for the price of a house (new).

Anyway, the drives were delivered, moved into place, and cabled up by our IBM Customer Engineer. But before we could use them, the needed to be sysgened (configured to the operating system). There was blizzard on, and I didn't want to drive home just yet, so I took on that task.

But first I decided to preview the drives by attaching them to my virtual machine (yes, we had VM back then). They turned out to contain a full set of source code and data tables for a mainframe payroll system that their former owner published (licenses cost a bundle!).


Oh, and then there was the time we got a bunch of magnetic tapes from a new client that held the client's records, which we were being hired to maintain. I noticed a bank sticker on one of the reels. Remembering that the client's previous service provider rented computer time from that bank, I got curious.

I used a utility I had written to force the tape past the double tape marks that demarcated the end of data, partway through the reel. As expected, the next data block was invalid. But there were a whole bunch of clean blocks after that one. It turned out the bank had used the tape as a "print tape", and the residual data was customer checking account statements!


52 posted on 09/03/2006 10:19:34 PM PDT by cynwoody
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To: 1FreeAmerican

I'm running a RAID U320 system with 5 SCSI 15K RPM Hard Drives. Just because I know how to build it. And there is a computer widow yelling at me to pay more attention to her. Good night.


53 posted on 09/03/2006 10:20:17 PM PDT by BobS
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To: KarlInOhio
No, installing Windows won't erase the hard disk.

I was not installing Windows. My hard drive stopped functioning. I want to retrieve data.

54 posted on 09/03/2006 10:20:31 PM PDT by Cobra64 (All we get are lame ideas from Republicans and lame criticism from dems about those lame ideas.)
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To: canuck_conservative

BUMP FOR LATER


55 posted on 09/03/2006 10:24:22 PM PDT by jamaly (I evacuate early and often!)
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To: canuck_conservative
At the price of a new hard drive these days, seems one could just replace the old with the new and solve the problem.
56 posted on 09/03/2006 10:25:17 PM PDT by BJungNan
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To: Cobra64
I was not installing Windows. My hard drive stopped functioning. I want to retrieve data.

Sorry, I was just comparing all those pictures of nukes going off with a Windows installation.

57 posted on 09/03/2006 10:25:51 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (UN Security Council resolution 1701: I believe it is ceasefire for our time.)
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
Dumb question here: Can a hard drive, be truly destroyed by an hour or so, in a medium size campfire?

I see common sense is your strong suit. Great dumb question. I had the same question.

58 posted on 09/03/2006 10:28:05 PM PDT by BJungNan
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To: LibWhacker
Out in the shop, I have an acetylene torch that should just about take care of any data I need destroyed.
59 posted on 09/03/2006 10:32:59 PM PDT by Dr.Zoidberg (Mohammedism - Bringing you only the best of the 6th century for fourteen hundred years.)
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To: cynwoody
Ok, then I will take the disk out of the disk drive, then little by little, I will break off a small piece and put it in the trash. I will do this each week until small piece by small piece and week after week I have slowly disposed of the disk.

A campfire sounded a whole lot easier but you doused that hope with your article. Thanks for the link on an interesting read.

60 posted on 09/03/2006 10:35:25 PM PDT by BJungNan
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To: canuck_conservative

For data removal, just call me, I manage to wreak havoc on hard drives without any special know how. I've got several that are beyond the point where data can be retrieved, or so I'm told, since they won't spin. Or I can pay somebody giga-bucks to try and retrieve the info. And I would really like to get the stuff off of them; projects I did, etc. Yes, I use a separate hard drive now to back up everything...


61 posted on 09/03/2006 10:37:53 PM PDT by Mjaye
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To: canuck_conservative

C:\ Format C


62 posted on 09/03/2006 10:39:36 PM PDT by Candor7 (Into Liberal flatulance goes the best hope of the West, and who wants to be a smart feller?)
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To: psychoknk
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.

That's a lot of trouble someone would have gone through just to see a bunch of pictures of my animals running around :~)

63 posted on 09/03/2006 10:40:29 PM PDT by HairOfTheDog (Head On. Apply directly to the forehead!)
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To: Mjaye

My wife handles data distruction for me.... I kept asking her not to reach across the desk and over my external harddrive.... She did it anyway....and eventually exceded even my darkest expectations...


64 posted on 09/03/2006 10:44:27 PM PDT by cbkaty (I may not always post...but I am always here......)
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To: BJungNan
Ok, then I will take the disk out of the disk drive, then little by little, I will break off a small piece and put it in the trash. I will do this each week until small piece by small piece and week after week I have slowly disposed of the disk.

A campfire sounded a whole lot easier

Thermite is recommended if it's really important, as in this movie. "It's really hard to get the data back once you've melted the platters."

But your idea is certainly less trouble, as long as you can be sure the trash man isn't slowly reassembling your drive back at headquarters.

65 posted on 09/03/2006 10:46:12 PM PDT by cynwoody
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To: LibWhacker
Is it Mac Compatible?
66 posted on 09/03/2006 10:47:35 PM PDT by LukeL
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To: canuck_conservative

Another thing that's easier on a Mac: the Secure Empty Trash feature does the job of wiping files up to DOD specs. It can take a while for large files, but I just use it as a matter of course when 'emptying the trash'.


67 posted on 09/03/2006 10:49:47 PM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: canuck_conservative

Here's a story about a murder suspect who attempted to destroy evidence by cutting up a pair of 5.25 inch floppies with scissors. Unsuccessfully.

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov1999/n11021999_9911023.html


68 posted on 09/03/2006 11:00:13 PM PDT by cynwoody
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To: Cobra64
GroundZero v. 2.01 is great in a pinch, but when I absolutely, positively MUST thoroughly wipe, nothing beats SuperNova v. 2.33


69 posted on 09/03/2006 11:02:42 PM PDT by Bonaparte
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To: Cobra64

Contact the hard drive mfr. If it has stopped spinning then the motor is bad. The mfr can replace the motor.

If the motor spins but the solenoid is bad then the mfr can replace the solenoid.

If the electronics is bad they can replace the electronics.....BUT

You're going to have to pay through the nose.

If the mfr won't do it, go to http://www.ontrack.com


70 posted on 09/03/2006 11:06:34 PM PDT by El Gran Salseron (The FR Canteen's World Famous Resident Equal Opportunity Male Chauvinist Pig! Got it? :-))
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To: Names Ash Housewares

My choice as well.


71 posted on 09/03/2006 11:09:23 PM PDT by BunnySlippers
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To: cynwoody
"engineers can often sort things out over the Internet, tapping into your PC and employing a suite of remote data recovery tools"

Oh joy.

72 posted on 09/03/2006 11:13:45 PM PDT by BenLurkin ("The entire remedy is with the people." - W. H. Harrison)
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To: canuck_conservative
Eraser
73 posted on 09/03/2006 11:34:02 PM PDT by jordan8
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To: jordan8

'Tis free.


74 posted on 09/03/2006 11:35:26 PM PDT by jordan8
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To: canuck_conservative

bump for later


75 posted on 09/03/2006 11:52:18 PM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: canuck_conservative

I probably will never sell a computer. Too much credit card/info on there to ever be sure it's totally wiped.


76 posted on 09/03/2006 11:54:09 PM PDT by mysterio
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To: canuck_conservative

There's a lot more to it than that. Randomizing after zeroing, then much stronger encryption (as and where allowable) are advised. Everything must be encrypted for the method to be effective, including the swap partitions. And don't use drive caching. ...works fast enough, if one has fast enough striping setups for the arrays.


77 posted on 09/03/2006 11:58:52 PM PDT by familyop (Essayons)
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To: canuck_conservative

None of the programs work. Some are worthless. Some may keep your boss from reading your files. None will keep a determined professional from doing so.

Only reliable method is as follows:

take out the hard drive
put it on a sturdy surface.
hit repeatedly with a ball pine hammer until flat and parts are flying
place it where you see used coffee grounds

Now that that is taken care of, what are you going to do about the several components that have buffers?

Did you know that your printer buffer may have hundreds of pages stored? Or the video card? Etc.

Here's a little insight into the problem:

http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/s&smanual2002.htm


78 posted on 09/04/2006 12:09:08 AM PDT by anton
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To: canuck_conservative
Anybody serious about this topic should read this: Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory. You will likely not opt for a software solution after you do!
79 posted on 09/04/2006 12:28:32 AM PDT by Northern Alliance
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To: cynwoody

> Thermite is recommended if it's really important

I remember a story a friend told me about one of his duties at an Air Force base in the early 70's. They loaded up the hard drives to be decommissioned into a Jeep and accompanied by an armed guard drove to a fenced in area of the base where a series of holes had been made in the ground. Each hole got a hard drive and a thermite charge. Nothing left but a glob of molten metal.


80 posted on 09/04/2006 12:39:42 AM PDT by ADemocratNoMore (Jeepers, Freepers, where'd 'ya get those sleepers?. Pj people, exposing old media's lies.)
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To: AZLiberty

"Wiping a 250 GB hard drive takes a long time -- multiple hours."

12 seconds last time I wiped a hard drive.


81 posted on 09/04/2006 6:20:43 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (Mediacrat - A leftwing editorialist who pretends to be an objective journalist.)
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To: Christian4Bush

same here , bookmk ping-a-ling [tech]


82 posted on 09/04/2006 6:29:25 AM PDT by Dad yer funny (BinScentie Pox , BinLadin , 2 tall enemies)
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To: Concho

btt


83 posted on 09/04/2006 6:36:09 AM PDT by OldCorps
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To: canuck_conservative
The last time I junked an important computer I took out the hard drive and smasked the platters with a ball peen hammer.

Absolute data destruction.

84 posted on 09/04/2006 6:40:54 AM PDT by Jim Noble (Something is happening here but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?)
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To: Dr.Zoidberg
Out in the shop, I have an acetylene torch that should just about take care of any data I need destroyed.

I use an arc welder. Turn the amps all the way up, ground the case, and feed a stick of 6011 through it, side-to-side. Doesn't take long, makes a real mess inside the drive.

85 posted on 09/04/2006 6:42:33 AM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: AZLiberty
Wiping a 250 GB hard drive takes a long time -- multiple hours

It takes two minutes.


86 posted on 09/04/2006 6:42:57 AM PDT by Jim Noble (Something is happening here but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?)
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To: canuck_conservative
I prefer the Springfield .40 S&W method of cleaning/disposing harddrives.

Although I may upgrade to the .50BMG method one day... ;-)

87 posted on 09/04/2006 6:46:38 AM PDT by Jonah Hex ("How'd you get that scar, mister?" "Nicked myself shaving.")
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To: perfect stranger

That's also a handy anti home intrusion device. One wack can chop off crook's arm or head.


88 posted on 09/04/2006 6:49:58 AM PDT by pleikumud
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To: canuck_conservative
I use a free program called 'Eraser' occasionally.

Overwrites up to 35 times.

Available at CNET, ZDNET, etc.

When installed it is added to the right-click drop down menu.
Instead of choosing 'delete' simply choose 'erase'.
89 posted on 09/04/2006 6:54:37 AM PDT by Vinnie
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To: EQAndyBuzz
Even if you could transmit bits continuously at 800 megabits per second (maximum speed of Firewire 800, for an external drive), it would take 8 seconds to transmit 800 megabytes (8 bits per byte) or 10 seconds to transmit a gigabyte to the hard drive. Hence, the absolute minimum time to write 250 GB to an external drive is 2500 seconds, or 3/4 of an hour. My experience is that it takes about 10 times this long in reality.

I'm sure it's faster with an internal drive, but messing with internal drives isn't for everyone. Even with an internal drive, 12 seconds only wipes the file directory, not the data on the disk.

90 posted on 09/04/2006 8:19:57 AM PDT by AZLiberty (Creating the <a href="http://clinton.senate.gov">straddle</a> Google bomb one post at a time.)
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To: Vinnie

My son (computer skilled) recovered all of a friend's data which had been removed using Eraser, except for a few files which were partially unreadable. Eraser is worthless.


91 posted on 09/04/2006 8:27:43 AM PDT by anton
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To: AZLiberty

Ahh... No. It takes 12 seconds. Each hammer blow takes about 2 seconds. Usually it takes 6 shots to make the drive useless.


92 posted on 09/04/2006 10:12:04 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (Mediacrat - A leftwing editorialist who pretends to be an objective journalist.)
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To: anton
Eraser is worthless.

Bummer

93 posted on 09/04/2006 11:40:13 AM PDT by Vinnie
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To: canuck_conservative

bump for later


94 posted on 09/04/2006 5:48:07 PM PDT by bobbyd (Flyer, I love and miss you...Lords best my FRiend)
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