Leave No Trace: How to Completely Erase Your Hard Drives, SSDs and Thumb Drives

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ronnie2

I had no idea about this, I always thought that by simply deleting my data I get rid of it for good... This is not good, I have already sold two hard disks and I didn't know about this, hopefully those who bought them don't know how to recover the deleted files. Usually I am more careful about this stuff, I even use regcure to keep my system clean and well functioning, I should have known about it...

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Ruf

A much better solution to wiping and erasing is to encrypt the drive with TrueCrypt.

That way the data is still intact rather than completely destroyed.  Once encrypted, there ain't nobody going to get data out except you.

 I've used DBAN and it's slow as hell. 9 hours to wipe a 640GB drive and thats with only one pass!

I encrypted the same drive in 6 hours with TrueCrypt. 

 

 

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To0nces

A hammer is a lot faster.

Assuming you're just throwing the drive out.

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Athlonite

I prefer either the DOD method or KGBs using upto 30 overwrites per sector all 0's then 1's then random 01's  

 

Play till it breaks then learn how to fix it!

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Cityscape

Can a hard drive be used after a zero-fill or a secure wipe? Can I do a secure wipe and the sell my drive, will it be in working condition?

Also you never mentioned about zero-fills on other brands (such as Quantum).

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Athlonite

yes they will still work and Quantum are no more they were bought out by WD so just use their tool  

 

 

Play till it breaks then learn how to fix it!

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eleavings

Also there's the Gutman method.  Very effective.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutmann_method

 

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PhoneyVirus

Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) for secure hard disk wiping is the best, as its so easy to use Nice Work Mark Thanks

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satish

thanx for sharing... it is very use ful in formating the hard disk...............

rapidshare download

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I Jedi

I still believe that the most secure way of erasing your H.D.D./S.D.D. is to use Darik's Boot and Nuke program, and to also nail the H.D.D./S.S.D. with a sludge-hammer. Personally, I had some pics of my gf one time, and needless to say, I did not want the world to see them. Ha. Ha. So, after I no longer wanted them, I used Darik's Boot and Nuke to erase the data on the H.D.D. Kind of wish I didn't now. :/

 I would just like to further state that I think this is one of your better articles to come out in recent weeks. Really helps new beginners understand why erasing isn't enough, and how to properly dispose of data on their computers.

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Pyrophorics

When I am done with my old hard drives I just physically open them and destroy the platter, quicker than a zero write. :/

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Scootiep

"As long as the operating system does not reuse the space occupied by a
file with another file, the “deleted” file can be recovered." I have to add that I have used Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery Software to recovery data from a laptop drive that had a corrupted boot sector. It was able to retrieve data that I had deleted multiple years ago and had been overwritten many, MANY times. I think what you are saying here is very misleading. Not to mention the fact that the Stellar recovery software is fairly cheap at $99 making it available to anyone wanting to use it for proper or improper means. Personally, when I want to wipe a drive, I DBam it for a good 7 passes or more. on the other hand, if you know a friendly Raidologist (like my uncle) you can always have him stick it in his MRI. Those suckers will destroy any form of electronic data permenantly.

To start press any key...ohh, where's the "Any" key. - Homer Simpson

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NSain

No where in the article, that I could find, did it state that you should have mutiple passes made with writing zero's.  There are programs out there can can and have recovered files even after have been overwritten.  I wish I could remember the name of the program I used years ago that could be set to automatically perform a set number of passes on a drive.  Took bloody long enough but at least you knew someone would have to be very, very persistent to recover anything off it.

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I Jedi

I do find it rather interesting that someone can get a H.D.D., that has been written over with 1/0's, and manage to still recover data. I would imagine you would have to have some pretty good software to make such a thing happen.

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unitymind

I use CCleaner to wipe the free space and clean up the drives. I set a long wipe and leave the computer to run all day...Works great!

 

http://www.filehippo.com/download_ccleaner

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Athlonite

thats Not the same as what's being talked about here al your doing is making sure that a sector is clean of previously deleted data it doesn't stop it from ever being brought back 

 

Play till it breaks then learn how to fix it!

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DBsantos77

 Any advice on drives that don't boot?

-Santos

Gigabyte 785GX Micro Atx

AMD Phenom II 720 (Quad @ 3.6 Ghz 1.47v.)

6 GB DDR3 1333

Corsair 500w

Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro Rev.2

HIS HD 5850 @ 940/1175/1175v

500 GB

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jgrimoldy

For drives that don't boot, you have several options:

You could use a USB adapter to go to either SATA or IDE (depending on what you need) then connect to a working system and use any of the windows-based wiping solutions.

Let's not rule out the effectiveness of physically making the drive inoperable:

  • Removing the cover and banging the platters with a hammer should be sufficient
  • Putting the whole drive in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds should sufficiently cook the embedded controller board.  If you've ever nuked a CD or DVD, the same thing happens when you put anything with ICs in the nuker.  Sure, data will likley remain on the platters, but without a working embedded controller board, the data is inaccessible for all practical purposes.  It's HIGHLY UNLIKELY that some hacker will have an extensive collection of drive controller boards and have one to replace your nuked board.

-j

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DBsantos77

 Awesome, thanks a bunch for the suggestions! :]

-Santos

Gigabyte 785GX Micro Atx

AMD Phenom II 720 (Quad @ 3.6 Ghz 1.47v.)

6 GB DDR3 1333

Corsair 500w

Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro Rev.2

HIS HD 5850 @ 940/1175/1175v

500 GB

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