There are times when you need to destroy data on a drive but not destroy the drive itself. I've been asked a couple of times about the best way to do this, and the answer to this question is pretty simple.
You want to make use of a Linux live distribution like Puppy Linux. Booting that live distribution will allow you to use the included tools on the drive without having to bother with mounting/unmounting the drive. Once you have booted into Puppy Linux on that machine, you want to make use of the shred command; this command will permanently and completely delete the data from the drive. Here's how you do it:
- Find out the drive letter (such as /dev/hda) to be shredded.
- Open a terminal window in Puppy Linux.
- Issue the command shred -vfz -n 100 /dev/hda. The command will:
- use the n option and do 100 passes.
- use the z option to overwite data with zeros.
- use the f option as a force (when admin permissions are necessary).
- use the v option for verbose mode.
- Once this is complete, you can then use a tool like gparted to format that drive to further ensure the data is removed.
After these tasks are complete, you will have a drive that will be an amazing challenge to extract data from — if it is even possible at all.Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.