Which hard drive eraser to buy?



I am wondering if anyone has any ideas about a hard driver eraser program (preferably free)? I want to give my old computer away to someone, but I want to ensure that there is nothing left on it for security reasons. Will the person be able to re-install Windows (I have the original disks) once I “wipe” it?

Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated.


As for freewares:

SDelete - command line whiping tool from microsoft, sysinternals… It uses some kind of algorithm to make the files hard to recover.

CCLeaner Has a “Wipe Free Space” function that is simple to use (found under advanced)… It will overwrite files that has already been deleted, making them hard to recover.

Eraser Some kind of open source alternative…

dban A free tool that will wipe the entire hard drive…

If I were you I would install more than one of these software’s and let them all have a go at wiping the free space, then possible let dban finish the job… Ofc after you are done and ready to install a fresh copy of windows you can test some type of “recovery tool” and see if it finds files that you wanted to go away… If it does then those wipers obviously missed something… ;D :smiley:

Actually I think you might consider running at least one of the “wipe free space” tools after a fresh install just to be a “bit” more sure… But do as you feel is best… I have no significant experience in deleting/recovering files, so I probably should not be giving advices… Anyhow please note that wiping free space will only delete what’s already deleted…

i thought re-formatting was enough?

I have heard positive reviews on Dban.

I thank if all you want to is remove your data,a reformat of the system partition is enough.
You can then reinstall a fresh copy of Windows for them,from your disc,give them the
installation media, and let them install,or let them “root hog” for their own operating system.

Unless your Windows install had nuclear launch codes,and you are donating the computer to a hostile foreign power,I thank that’s enough.

Probably depends on how “important” info you was storing…

A common misconception is that the data is actually removed from the hard drive (erased) when you delete a file. Any time that a file is deleted on a hard drive, it is not erased. Instead, the tiny bit of information that points to the location of the file on the hard drive is erased. This pointer, along with other pointers for every folder and file on the hard drive, is saved in a section near the beginning of the hard drive and is used by the operating system to compile the directory tree structure. By erasing the pointer file, the actual file becomes invisible to the operating system. Eventually, the hard drive will write new data over the area where the old file is located.

There are several hard disk utilities that you can find on the Internet that allow you to recover “deleted” files. What these utilities do is search for data on the hard drive that does not have corresponding pointer information and present you with a list of these files. Your chances of fully recovering a file diminish the longer you wait after you deleted the file since the probability that the file has been overwritten increases. Sometimes you can recover portions of a file that has not been completely overwritten.

I did a test run once with a recovery tool after a format on my gf computer and I was able to restore a lot of files… And it wasn’t a fancy tool…

Format probably keeps your info safe from most users, but just one format probably won’t keep it safe from recovery tools… Or if you are unlucky to have some security agency search the box… ;D 88)


was the recovery tool Piriiform Recuva?

If so,the wipe free space function of CCleaner seems to prevent it from finding anything.

If you wish to give your computer away and wish to ensure that data cannot be recovered then use DBAN or Active Kill disk. Formatting or deleting partitions will not do. Data can still be easily recovered using simple tools.

You can encrypt full disks before or after erasing with Truecrypt for safety then after DBAN you can format to something like ext4 ( unreadable by most forensic tools ) with ubuntu koala 9.10 install disk.

Use a boot disk or an USB Flash Drive to delete swap files too…

After unmounting the disk drive’s partitions, issue the following command (while logged in as root in linux):

badblocks -ws (-w Tests each block by first writing in, than reading from it. Do not use this on an existing filesystem, it WILL DESTROY it )

This will absolutely check/erase the drive and no tool can retrieve the data after. I use this last one to check old drives before a new life :wink:

Yeah,Or just give the computer to someone you half way trust.
Better still just remove the hard drive and arc weld it into a blob of metal…

They still have most of a computer to build on.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I’m not giving the computer to any hostile government, so I should be OK, there is nothing really sensitive on it.

Before giving away hard drive…install TrueCrypt on running Windows, encrypt whole drive (system partition encryption + other partitions if any). Choose very strong password or combination: password and key file.

When encryption accomplished successfully: under TrueCrypt GUI choose settings > system encryption > place a checkmark “do not show any texts…” > apply everywhere. “Loose” your keyfile, “forget” password.

Done. After power off or reboot of computer nobody (including owner of drive) would not be able to access data on hard drive.

Ok thnx for the info… No I think I used a program called “Recover lost data” or something like that… =)

yes :slight_smile:

I’d suggest downloading copywipe for dos.
hope this helps