Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Best way to completely erase a hard drive

It's easy to believe that choosing a file on your computer, selecting Delete and emptying the Recycle Bin will forever remove its presence from your life.  Not so!  Sometimes traces will remain even after a reformat or blanking procedure (writing zeroes to all sectors).

This came up in a recent question I was asked:

"I have the HP Pavilion Media Center 2005 Edition.  I would like detailed but easy to follow directions on how to remove the hard drive and destroy it before I donate or discard of it."

There are two options to effectively remove data from the drive -- software and hardware. I recommend you do both, just to be safe.

First, run a program like DBAN (http://www.dban.org). It's free software and the best for eliminating nearly all traces of data on the drive. Many universities (including Stanford) use this program for their machines.

Next step would be to remove the drive. Take off the side and front panels first, then unscrew the two screws from the front of the drive bay. After the screws are out, pull back and hold the bay release and slide the bay out of the case. Finally, remove all four screws from the drive itself.

Finally, If you're really serious about data removal, a hardware solution is in order. Degaussing often requires expensive equipment, but drive destruction is also an option. Drilling multiple holes in the drive is fairly quick and effortless, but if you're up for it, disassemble it and and then destroy the platters.

No comments:

Post a Comment