PLEASE HELP: How to Delete Data Forever From a Hard Drive...

35 replies
Hey Warriors - sorry this is not about making money, except in the sense that I'm selling a laptop and I need to effectively and permanently erase all files, data, etc. as there is a ton of stuff on there that I wouldn't want to fall "into the wrong hands" - it's not dirty stuff, just personal stuff, banking and other financial info, docs with my passwords, social security, etc.

I'm nervous about a reformat not *really* doing the trick...

Help! How do I REALLY make the hard drive as if it's never had data on it?

Thanks!
David
#data #delete #drive #forever #hard
  • Profile picture of the author Scott Ames
    Eraser I'm told is good. Open Source too:

    Eraser
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  • Profile picture of the author Adam Carn
    Doing a Google search I came across this article which may help:

    How to Permanently Delete Files - Using Windows Secret Built-In Tool

    Thanks,
    Adam
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    I'm not an expert but once heard from one that reformatting a hard drive clears it. I've also heard that deleting your stuff then running the defrag function will get rid of the deleted data too. Again, I don't know if either is accurate. Maybe someone who does will correct me if it isn't.
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  • Profile picture of the author netalab
    Why not format your harddrive!?
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  • Profile picture of the author rodl13
    Simply formatting a drive is not sufficient to delete data. Programs like GetDataBack, can recover data from formatted hard drivers.

    The best I have seen to completely erase a drive is Darik's Boot And Nuke | Hard Drive Disk Wipe and Data Clearing free program.

    Or to be the safest, hard drives are quite cheap now adays, remove the old - destroy it, (you can have fun smashing it) and sell your laptop with a brand new hard drive.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rich Struck
    Formatting won't get rid of your data, it merely conceals it. Someone who is clever enough and patient enough can recover it. If I had a hard drive full of data I wanted destroyed I would take it apart and take a grinder to it.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnHuizinga
    Delete everything you want gone.
    Use a macro in Microsoft Word (or any other word processor) to create a document that consists of 10,000,000 @ signs.
    Save it as a text file.
    Copy and paste it.
    Copy and paste the two files you now have.
    Copy and paste the 4 files you now have.
    Continue until your hard drive is full.
    Everything you deleted has now been overwritten.
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  • Profile picture of the author Profit-smart
    Try downloading and burning a demo of something called "Killdisk".

    OR buy it, and you can do unlimited runs.
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    • Profile picture of the author Martin Luxton
      According to the CIA, there's only one sure way - a bullet.

      Martin
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  • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
    I use a large 2x2 inch neodymium magnet with hundreds of pounds of pull to kill it and ruin the data...

    Then I use a sledge hammer :-)

    Of course you would not be able to sell it at that point :-0

    But as was mentioned a new hard drive is cheap to buy and replace.
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    • Profile picture of the author rapidscc
      Originally Posted by Josh Anderson View Post

      I use a large 2x2 inch neodymium magnet with hundreds of pounds of pull to kill it and ruin the data...

      Then I use a sledge hammer :-)

      Of course you would not be able to sell it at that point :-0

      But as was mentioned a new hard drive is cheap to buy and replace.
      I agree with Josh.

      I once had a chit chat with a law enforcer with technical background and he said that the hard disk can be wiped out with a magnet.

      I just wasn't able to ask if the hard disk can still be useful after that..

      Since I don't know if it will still be useful after, then the safest would be like what josh said, use a sledge hammer

      Omar

      Update : Ohh so it's dead already
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  • Profile picture of the author CliveG
    It's very very difficult to get rid of all data from a hard drive so that it cannot be recovered. There is a US DOD standard on this subject and it's very demanding. The best free solution that I have come across is Darik's Boot and Nuke, but if it were me I would replace the hard drive.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alan Mc Donald
      i volunteer for a charity one day a week, the charity accepts donations of old PC's from businesses,banks etc. the pc's are then refurbished and sent to africa.

      before they are sent to africa the hard drives are completely wiped using DBAN

      Use dban to wipe a hard drive and there is NO POSSIBLE WAY any data can be recovered from the HD

      Darik's Boot And Nuke | Hard Drive Disk Wipe and Data Clearing

      hope this helps
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  • Profile picture of the author rawservices
    you also have to remember that not everyone has the knowledge nor desire to recover your information.

    there are good people in the world ;-)

    if you sell if over the internet, obviously wipe to full extent and even consider replacing the hard drive.

    but all in all, he best way is eraser. it'll erase enough that it would cost a lot of money in software and equipment to get it back.

    hope this helps,

    -Ryan
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  • Profile picture of the author Asher
    Fire always works.

    Or liquid hydrogen.
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  • Profile picture of the author goliathseo
    All of these are good but your best bet would be a combination of al these progs, using a bullet and magnet and grinder. Swap out the HD before you do this and you are good to go...
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  • Profile picture of the author TheGodfather
    As a computing expert I must say that the only way that you can erase data that could never be recovered again, but without destroying your hard drive is with a program called active kill disk.

    This program allows you to make 35 passes of random data or your drive which can take several hours or days even, depending on the size of your hard drive, but it will ensure that the magnet layer which you had with your data to be suppressed deep enough for anyone to be able to retrieve it.

    If you cannot find a software, you will find it within a pack that is called Hiren's boot CD. If you are unable to buy this software, the boot CD, you can find it on several torrent sites, and just burn it on any CD. The whole thing has about 80 MB in size.

    Once he starts active kill disk you will find within it the option that will say "high security, very slow,35 number of passes". Use that option and leave it to do its work.

    This will ensure that no one will ever find any data on your hard drive, simply because this algorithm is even stronger than what the US Department of Defense uses to wipe their hard drives.

    I hope this helps,
    TheGodfather
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  • Profile picture of the author easybiztools
    Originally Posted by JustaWizard View Post

    Hey Warriors - sorry this is not about making money, except in the sense that I'm selling a laptop and I need to effectively and permanently erase all files, data, etc. as there is a ton of stuff on there that I wouldn't want to fall "into the wrong hands" - it's not dirty stuff, just personal stuff, banking and other financial info, docs with my passwords, social security, etc.

    I'm nervous about a reformat not *really* doing the trick...

    Help! How do I REALLY make the hard drive as if it's never had data on it?

    Thanks!
    David
    Hi David,

    As mentioned by many others in this thread, the surest bet is to:
    1. buy a new hard drive for the laptop you want to sell

    2. buy an external drive casing for your old disk (now you can use
    this as an external drive with all your data intact)

    3. And tell the buyer that he's getting a brand new hard-disk as a 'bonus' :-)


    cheers,
    Adrian
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  • Profile picture of the author mreynolds
    Yeah, I thought that even when you delete it all, the information is still in there somewhere.
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    Michelle Reynolds
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
    Another vote for kill disk or replace the drive.
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  • Profile picture of the author David_Preston
    The cops or divorce attorneys WILL find the searches
    for "easy ways to dispose of spouse" unless you use a
    hammer on the hard drive.

    LOL

    David
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  • Profile picture of the author BeauJustin
    Reformatting does NOT erase the data on the drive. Anyone can make the drive a slave to another drive and then search the contents of the drive via data recovery software.

    You also DO NOT have to replace your drive. There is only one way to completely clean a drive and that is do a process called zeroing out. Zeroing out is a low level format of the drive. Essentially it replaces all the binary 1's on the drive with zeros effectively destroying every last bit of recoverable data permanently. Active@ Kill Disk Hard Drive Eraser. Low Level Format. will do the job amiably.

    Depending on the size of the drive it could take a few hours.
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  • Profile picture of the author Anup Mahajan
    1) Delete everything from your hard disk
    2) Format all the drives
    3) Use Windows Installer and delete all the partitions
    4) Reinstall Windows and create new partitions again (do not create same sized or same number of partitions)
    5) Connect to internet and fill your hard disk by huge files .. Make sure your hard disk is completely full...

    Repeat steps 1 & 2... I got this from one of my friends who works in a security firm..

    He says it works

    Cheers,
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  • Profile picture of the author AverageGuy
    I think there is a standard for this in U.S. military. If I'm not wrong, I remeber the entire HD should write and delete/reformat for 11 times (not sure 11).

    There are some software that can do this for you.


    david
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  • Profile picture of the author mrnightowl
    Yeah when I was in the military we used data eraser. It scattered the data encrypted then deleted. So even the best hackers would have a very hard time recovering encrypted scattered data. But thats no fun

    Thermite is the key!!! Matter of fact might as well do a video of you using thermite on your entire laptop, put it on youtube with affiliate site links and the works. Maybe you could make more money by doing that, than you could by selling it. FUN!!!

    Eric.
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    not here to sell or convince only to learn and interact

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    • Profile picture of the author Sydp
      Physically destroying the drive is the only way to guarantee it's safe - experts say to break it, then burn it. But Radsoft's E3 shreds disks as well as can be done digitally. Using a Guttmann shred, tt destroys the data on your disk as well as can be done without physically destroying the disk.
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      • Profile picture of the author Brad Mc Bard
        I used to work in the defense industry, and physically destroying was the only acceptable way.

        HOWEVER - for lower classification stuff we used Eraser, by Heidi: Eraser .

        It's free and very easy to use - you might want to have it handy on your new computer as well..

        If you want to erase the entire disk, easiest way is to do this:
        1. Open eraser and click Ctrl+E for the preferences menu
        2. Select Unused Disk Space and choose one of the high-pass methods. Guttman would be bulletproof, but passing through your entire disk 35 times would take a lifetime and might ruin it. Personally I'd use US DOD 5220 - 7pass. Leave all checkboxes on - to erase everything possible.
        3. In internet explorer erase with shift+delete everything you don't want to leave behind. This step will delete the files - but they will still be recoverable!
        4. In Eraser set a task for deleting "Unused space on drive" and set it on "local hard drives"
        5. Make sure the laptop is plugged in, so it won't turn off mid-way.
        6. Just in case - do this without having any external drives, usb cards etc. plugged in - you don't want them erased!
        I'm pretty paranoid - but I trust the DOD 7pass method - unless selling to a REALLY crazy hacker who's out to get you, lol (then I'd do 35, or not sell at all)

        I hope this helped.
        Cheers,
        Brad
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Powers
    wow,it seems so difficult after seeing guys upstairs said.Why not directly forcibly format your hard drive.Then I think it's OK.No necessity to make it that complicated.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheMagicShow
    I'd take a hammer to it! Your files are sensitive and not worth the risk.
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    " You can either give a man a fish and feed him for a day OR teach him how to catch a fish and it will feed him for a lifetime"

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    • Profile picture of the author JustaWizard
      Update: I chose the hammer method. Also took a screwdriver and pried the M'er F'er open and took out the disk and F'd it up real good
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by JustaWizard View Post

        Update: I chose the hammer method. Also took a screwdriver and pried the M'er F'er open and took out the disk and F'd it up real good
        I find that a hundred feet or so of saltwater a few miles offshore works pretty well...

        According to one of my favorite head boat captains, it does a pretty good number on handheld GPS units, too.
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      • Profile picture of the author aakayb
        Originally Posted by JustaWizard View Post

        Update: I chose the hammer method. Also took a screwdriver and pried the M'er F'er open and took out the disk and F'd it up real good
        The hammer is a quality tool. I find when doing DIY, when reading instructions if you find the manual directing you to use a screwdriver, just use a hammer instead. It will save you alot of time and it gets the job done!
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  • Profile picture of the author UBotBuddy
    The only ABSOLUTE way to destroy a hard drive is to find an active volcano and if you can get close enough then drop it in the lava. I would like to see a video of that too. So forget the hammer, bullet and thermite. Lava will do the trick guaranteed.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rob Howard
      [DELETED]
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      • Profile picture of the author JustaWizard
        Aside from all the extreme methods (lava etc.) it's likely that there's ONE MORE sure-fire way to make sure your hard drive is wiped out, forever:

        Have a whole lot, I mean a LOT, of data and info you've worked literally hundreds if not thousands of hours to create/assemble etc., and don't back up that data.

        Surely then the hard drive evil demons will gladly swoop down and permanently destroy ALL of your hard work and even the geekiest geek on Earth won't be able to bring it back.
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  • Profile picture of the author greff
    Just guessing, but I think you need to melt the HD in a place similar to where Terminator 2 died.
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