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How to Securely Erase Private Data


How to Securely Erase Your Hard Drive

Note: The following options are for securely erasing all the data on a hard drive, including the operating system.

How to Securely Erase Just Your Private Data


(in other words, only after you've backed up all the data you want to keep onto durable, reliable backup media, and stored it in a safe place - preferably two backups stored in separate buildings - and if sensitive, with strong encryption)

How to ''Secure Erase'' Your PalmOne LifeDrive, Sharp Zaurus SL-C3000 or SL-C3100

Option 1 - Arguably the Best Option

Seagate has introduced the Momentus, a laptop / notebook hard drive with full, or whole, disk encryption (FDE) and support for the Trusted Platform Module, that allows you to protect or securely erase sensitive, confidential, private data.

Seagate Momentus drives come with ''a disk erase feature that lets [you] quickly and securely wipe drives of sensitive data. Seagate claims this can happen in seconds regardless of the drive's capacity because there is no software initialisation required.'' - article at Techworld.com

And if your laptop / notebook or its hard drive gets stolen before you securely erase your sensitive data, that data will remain fully protected even when the hard drive is repurposed (installed on another computer).

Option 2

Use the Blancco Data Cleaner.

Option 3

If you have Norton Ghost, BartPE or better yet Ultimate Boot CD for Windows and are comfortable using the command-line, use GDisk or the GDisk plugin for BartPE, with one of the following commands. (Replace disk with the disk number - 1 to 8, and n with the desired, customized number of passes.)

For 7 overwrite passes: gdisk disk /DISKWIPE /DOD
For up to 100 passes: gdisk disk /DISKWIPE /CUSTOM:n

Option 4

If you have Knoppix* and are comfortable using the command-line, use shred*. (* shred is part of GNU fileutils, which is now part of the GNU coreutils package, so most, if not all GNU/Linux Live CDs and DVDs should have it, but some may not)

Option 5

Use Darik's Boot and Nuke, Heidi Computers Ltd.'s whole hard disk data eraser. (supports Windows, Unix, GNU/Linux, BSD, Mac OS X, BeOS and QNX)

Note: DBAN does not erase flash memory drives.

To use this option (from Eraser's site):

  1. Place a floppy (or CD) in your a: drive.
  2. Click on the Start button and then choose Programs > Eraser > Create Boot Nuke Disk.
  3. Ensure 'Writing on Floppy' is ticked. Tick 'Formatting' if your floppy needs to be formatted.
  4. Click OK. Result: Your Boot Nuke Disk has now been created.
  5. Boot up your PC with the floppy still remaining in your a: drive.

Remember: If you wish to securely erase the hard disk of another PC, then bring this floppy to the PC, insert it into the a: drive and boot it up. Result: All drives will now be securely erased (including the operating system).

Summary: Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) is a self-contained boot floppy that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.

Contents of Secure Erasing Guide

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