Formatting or Wiping – Erasing – Drives

From Email:

going to be donating a couple of old computers to Goodwill. What is the best way
to wipe the hard drives? Is reformatting safe enough?

Simply deleting files in Windows (and most OS’es) doesn’t actually delete the data. It is fairly trivial to recover it. The only way to insure security is to “wipe” or “nuke” the data and drive.

Here is a link to Darik’s Boot and Nuke (aka DBaN):

You can download a floppy image or CD image depending on whether the machines have a floppy drive.

Another option to use is Eraser which runs under Windows. This would be useful if the hard drives are extras or USB type that can be plugged into a Windows computer. Eraser is also useful on any computer – after sending something to the Recycle Bin – you can choose to “erase” the recycle bin rather than just emptying it.

*It has a “create nuke disk” option – but creates a floppy not a CD – for erasing an entire drive.

*With any of these programs, you can typically choose one of several erase methods such as “1 pass” or “35 pass”. Typically a 1 or 3 pass is plenty unless there is top-secret data you are worried about. The more passes – the longer it takes.