So, you have finally decided to throw out, sell, or give away some of your old hard drives and you want to make sure what ever data you had stored on them is completely wiped out. Well, I’m glad you have made the smart decision to protect your sensitive information but there are a few things we need to go over before we wipe everything clean.
Please note that the process explained in this guide will completely erase your hard drive, unlike formatting which basically makes the data invisible but not completly gone. With formatting, data can actually be recovered by using special software.
So you want to nuke it all, let’s get started.
1. Backup anything stored on the drive that you want to keep, as you will not be able to recover it once this process is completed.
2. Download a program that is made for destroying data. The one I will mention in this guide is DBAN which is a free and powerful tool.
3. Following the instructions provided on the DBAN site, burn the iso file to a disc.
**Do not modify the file at all or it may corrupt boot disk creation.
4. Once you have created your boot media by buring the DBAN iso file to a disc, insert the disk into the computer that contains the hard drive you would like to erase.
5. Boot the system with the DBAN media, if this dosen’t seem to be working you may have to go into the settings of your BIOS. You can usually access your BIOS settings by pressing, esc, delete, F1 or F2 right when you power on your machine. Once inside the BIOS settings make sure to change your boot order to allow your system to read from your optical drives before your hard drives. Then be sure to properly save your BIOS settings before you exit.
6. After DBAN is running you can follow the on screen prompts to complete the cleaning process. I would recomend running DBAN in interactive mode which will allow you to change the method in which DBAN will erase data. In interactive mode you will see a menu at the bottom of the screen. Press “M” to change the method. Each method has a decription of it wipes a hard drive and the security level it has been given.
7. Choose a how you want to verify passes to enusre the proper removal of data.
8. Start the wipe process. Usually “F10” in the menu.
** Please note that it can take anywhere from just a few minutes to many hours to complete this process depending on the storage capacity and method used to wipe the drive.
If you have any other issues getting started please refer to the DBAN webite and navigate to their help section.