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Video: How to wipe a hard disk with DBAN

Don't let old data come back to haunt you. Bill Detwiler shows you how to use DBAN--a free hard disk wiping utility.

Any time a hard drive leaves your possession, whether you're recycling, reselling, or returning it to the manufacturer, you should securely delete the data it contains. In this week's TR Dojo episode, I show how to use Darik's Boot And Nuke (DBAN) hard disk wiping utility. It's recommended by lots of TechRepublic members, and best of all, it's free.

For those who prefer text to video, you can click the Transcript link that appears below the video player window or check out Rick Vanover's slideshow, "How to wipe a hard disk with DBAN."

I mention the following resources during the episode:

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About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

23 comments
Networkcanuck
Networkcanuck

We use thermite. It's much more entertaining.

wayne.randall
wayne.randall

we use a hardware device that performs the task for us, not free of course

ComputerJimDotCom
ComputerJimDotCom

Most of the time I use wiping utility but some customers require phyically destroying the drive.

barrieb
barrieb

Nobody has refered to Cyber Scrub,Privacy Suite.TOP program.BB

user support
user support

If the hard drive still works, the machine is deleted from Active directory and software used to overwrite the hard disk drive, otherwise the hard drive is pulled and put through a deguassing machine for 4 passes on one side and turn over and 4 passes on the other side according to the directions furnished with the machine. We have been using White Canyon Wipedrive for about 10 years. It is not free but the cost was nominal when we originally purchased it. It is menu driven and gives the option of DoD 3 wipes, 7 wipes or 25 wipes. It usually finds all drives or storage media and gives the option of selecting one, more or all drives to wipe. We started on floppy diskette and it wrote a log to the diskette. Also, if hard drive needs to be replaced, our contract calls for us to keep and dispose of the original hard drive, they don't get returned to the company providing service. I am out of much of the process but I believed we have moved to same software on CD-R so I guess a log is not being written.

zackers
zackers

As Dr. Gutmann points out in an epilogue to his seminal 1996 paper "Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory" ( http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/secure_del.html ) there's never a need today to do the time-consuming 35-pass "Gutmann" erasing algorithm. It was designed to be a general purpose erasing algorithm that sequentially used all the best erasing patterns for disk recording technologies such as MFM and forms of RLL that haven't been used for at least a decade. According to Dr. Gutmann's epilogue, "For any modern PRML/EPRML drive, a few passes of random scrubbing is the best you can do."

tehurley
tehurley

Usually use DBAN. If the HDD has crashed, I like to take them apart because I like to take thinks apart. I save the platters but run a bulk tape eraser across the platters just in case someone should get a hold of platter and recover any data on it.

Epmlminet
Epmlminet

DBAN is good and will do the job. as will the others mentioned. Very cool and very good. Now.. My task for the day is a NAS device that is failing and must be sent in for warranty repair/replacement. How do you clean/erase/securely remove data from a Network connected Hard drive? Ed...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Nothing like a random unlabeled disk to get dropped in a machine before boot. :D

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

As I wrote about in my TR Dojo article, "Police, medical records found on used copy machines," (http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=1700) old data from discarded hard drives can come back to haunt you. In this week's TR Dojo episode, I show you how to wipe a hard drive with the free, DBAN utility. But using a wiping tool like DBAN isn't the only method of protecting your data. You can physically destroy the drive or use a degaussing machine. How does your organization protect the data store on decommissioned/discarded hard drives? Take the poll and let me know. Original post and poll: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=2247

cranky_paranoid
cranky_paranoid

My staff built a "kill box" that we use. I mandate that all hard drives are removed from recycled PCs and monitor that. The staff hooks the drives up to the kill box and boots it -presto! The drives are wiped with minimal interaction from the staff. This is quicker than hooking up PCs and our kill box can do 4 drives at a time. After that, the drives are recycled and the recycler guarantees that the drives are wiped to DoD specs before they leave their shop. Unusable drives are shredded

mike
mike

After making sure you have a copy of the data I would remove the Hard drive from the NAS enclosure and attach it to the machine that is going to run DBAN. I think I would also consider using an old PC just for the drive wiping purpose. We all have an old system laying around somehwere dont we?

doug.cronshaw@baesystems
doug.cronshaw@baesystems

After you have copied the data content onto its replacement drive, the replacement drive should be mounted in place of your failing drive. Then mount the failing drive privately and subject that to DBAN or other soft-wiping facility, before it is returned to the supplier for repair /replacement.

BigJohnLg
BigJohnLg

Just label it as music or porno and leave it somewhere for your "friends". Better yet, label it "Win 7 Ultimate" and attach a defunct windows authorization code to it.

cgkomeshak
cgkomeshak

As long as drive spins, WipeDrive by WhiteCanyon on bootable CD. Says it is approved by DOD. I'm prety certain it works, used it hundreds of times, never found any data. http://www.whitecanyon.com/wipedrive-erase-hard-drive.php If it doesn't spin, disassembly and degausing each platter works, also gets you a cool neodymium magnet.

mike
mike

As to any reports on the recovery of data from a single platter that was supposedly wiped and the used as a frisbe or as one mention wind chime. Lets say other than the government or miltary has the capabilties of recovering data usefully from a single platter? Does the average joe in his home work shop have that capabilty?

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

I disassemble the drive, degauss the platters, and use them for wind chimes. Being around computers for quite some time, I have some 8", 5.25", 3.5", and 2.5" platters. They have great resonance, and take the weather quite well. You can also use 2.5" platters for unbreakable mirrors.

b4real
b4real

And in the case of Active@Kill Disk; the serial #s of the drives can be logged systematically. Most degausers don't log that!

dolo724@
dolo724@

...using Thermite to melt the drive?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If the average Joe happens to have an electron microscope at home, they may be able to get somewhere in the upper middle between self help recovery apps and clean-room lab work. The really crazy recoveries I've heard of generally involve the clean room to pull the platters and place them into a functioning hard drive box or read them directly with the microscope. Your into the thousands of dollars billed for this type of recovery though.