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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Default Erase a hard drive

    Hi everyone, please can you help? I'm trying to erase a hard drive because I want to sell it. The hard drive is a 1TB drive. I've tried to use 'DBan' but I have to admit, while I'm an idiot sometimes with the computer, I cannot get my head around it for love nor money. How do I use DBan? Can I use DBan to erase the hard drive when it (the hard drive) is in use? Does the DBan need to be put on a disc or can I put it on a USB drive? And how do I configure the PC to boot from the CDRom, questions - questions, sorry. Please can you help me with this? Thank you for your time.

  2. #2
    Member Digerati's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Nebraska, USA


    First, some terminology. You don't want to "erase" (or delete) the data. You want to "wipe" the data. Erase and delete are the same thing and all those commands do is mark the file locations as free or available in the drive's File Tables. An unerase program can easily find that data.

    Wipe, on the other hand, writes a bunch of random 1s and 0s over the drive's data storage locations, obliterating any data previously saved there. So when getting rid of a drive, you want to "wipe" it clean.

    Wipe ensures a badguy cannot retrieve any previously saved data.

    If you like DBan, you can try Eraser which uses DBAN technologies but has a more friendly user interface. Yeah, I said you don't want to Erase, but that is just the name of the program. It wipes.

    Alternatively, you can use CCleaner (pick the slim version) which has a Drive Wiper feature to do what you want. This is what I use now to wipe drives - at least on working drives. It uses similar technologies as DBan to ensure any previously saved data is totally unrecoverable.

    Can I use DBan to erase the hard drive when it (the hard drive) is in use?
    You cannot use any wipe program to "fully" wipe a drive that is currently being used. And by "used", I mean there are currently files open on that drive or programs running from that drive. So in particular, you cannot wipe the "boot" drive, but you can run the wipe program from the boot drive to wipe other drives (or partitions).

    CCleaner's Drive Wiper feature will also let you wipe only the free space of a drive too. This can be handy, for example, if you have deleted/erased all your personal data from a drive but want to leave the operating system and programs on the disk but want to ensure no other data can be retrieved.

    CCleaner's Drive Wiper program also lets you wipe only the free space on a disk. This is handy if you know where the drive is going. I use this feature when "handing down" a computer to a family member or "trusted" friend as it does not wipe out the installed operating system or programs (like Word or installed security programs). I just make sure my personal data has been deleted, then I Wipe the free space. I feel comfortable doing this because as soon as the drive is put into use, new data (new 1s and 0s) will be saved to the drive, further ensuring any old data is long gone. But if I don't know who will end up with the drive, I wipe the whole drive.

    To wipe an entire drive, it MUST be a secondary drive. That is, it must NOT be the boot (typically C) drive. So to wipe an old, spare or secondary drive, you need to install it in your computer as a secondary (D, E, etc) drive, then run CCleaner or Erasure on it. Or you can install this drive into an enclosure and attach it to another computer as a secondary drive. Or, you can boot to a bootable DVD that also has CCleaner on it, then wipe the drive.

    BTW - kudos to you for thinking about security when getting rid of old drives! I wish everyone was that "security aware" when they get rid of old computers and drives.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!
    MS MVP, 2007 - 2018

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