Storage

Zeroing a hard disk with Active@ Kill Disk

Introducing Active@ Kill Disk

The Active@ KillDisk utility is one component of the feature-rich Active Boot Disk environment. With Active@ KillDisk, a hard drive can be zeroed out for safe data erasure that a simple hard drive format can't ensure. Active@ KillDisk has a free edition that includes limited functionality, and is a free download from the KillDisk website. Aside from the free products, the Active@ KillDisk utilities include supported tools to perform Department of Defense 5220.22-M clearing and sanitization functionality for compliance-regulated tasks.

Installing the Active@ KillDisk Free Suite gives options to install a number of free utilities.

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50 comments
wlportwashington
wlportwashington

I have found that a good old fashioned sledge hammer works best. A few good wacks and no more drive to worry about. Simple so anyone can do it, takes no electrical power so it is "green" and the drive is totally destroyed.

howard48906
howard48906

CCleaner works fine, it's free and has multiple options such as number of passes, etc. You don't have to use a boot disc either. Just connect it with a docking station and let it run in the background while you do something productive.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

If you have been around long enough, Symantec didn't advertize it much but in all [I think] versions of the GDisk utility that came with Ghost [or at least the DOS version] came a switch which allowed you to do a DoD compliant wiping. I needed to do it at one place. Lined up 10 PCs withg no screen or keyboard or mouse. Created a boot floppy [or CD] that would right away run GDisk and start wiping the hard disks. As soon as it started, I'd eject the disc and insert it into the next system and repeat the process [this assumed it checked the floppy or CD drive before hard disk on bootup]. Of course nothing probably beats putting a large magnet right over the hard disk or dropping it from a 5+ story building onto concrete. :-)

pam_19464
pam_19464

I have used Active@ several times and then it stops working. Not sure why. Anxious to try DBAN. Thanks!

Realvdude
Realvdude

I've been using Eraser from heidi.ie for a couple of years now. There are six erase options from one to 35 passes, though from what I read earlier this year about modern drives, I've changed from seven passes to three. Context menu in Windows, as well as a portable option. While my general use is for securely erasing private information, I have also erased a few hard drives using a USB to IDE/SATA interface to connect the target drive to either my desktop, or laptop in the field. I don't like the newest interface as much, though you can schedule erasing jobs.

mdtallon
mdtallon

Is the issue of multiple wipes an issue at all with SSDs? Any ghosts hanging on in the solid state world?

mdtallon
mdtallon

What's a floppy? And why are half of these installs "for 2"?

Regulus
Regulus

Thank you for the .PDF.

dcohen65
dcohen65

I'm all for learning about free utilities that make our lives easier, but why would someone use this app when DBAN is also free, but will perform the full DOD sanitize function with a 7 x overwrite. All things being equal I am having trouble understanding the benefit of Active@KillDisk

Bob N.
Bob N.

Cru DataPort has a line of hard drive security tools under the brand name of Wiebe Tech. Their drive eRazer Pro product can be attached to various types of hard drives via connectors to do a secure wipe without having to attach the hard drive to a host computer that runs a software program like Active@KillDisk. Drive eRazer can be set to a three-pass mode for maximum results. There was a time when I used the 35 pass Gutman method faithfully, but wipe times ran to 24 hours or more. My concern was that such a rigorous method was needed to prevent data recovery via an electron microscope for my clients whose data HAD to be securely wiped. Then I read multiple articles that said modern hard drives could be securely wiped with a well-designed three-pass system. The Drive eRazor has been a great tool for me and it has saved many hundreds of hours of time.

harryolden
harryolden

It is very hard to wipe a hard disk and a floppy with a MAGNET I have programs that will still read floppys and will repair floppy disks replacing the sectors that are missing so that the computer will read the floppy disk, all the computer needs is 256k Bits per sector and it will read it missing data or not.

interpoI
interpoI

White Canyon is another great drive/Data wiper.

michael.rosanbalm
michael.rosanbalm

Oak stump, 10 lb splitting maul, a quick toss into the fireplace overnight. Tomorrow, extract rare metal, toss remains in recycling. Data GONE! But frankly, I've never needed to go to these extremes. ~Michael

flez
flez

1. Drop HDD in a strong Solvent - MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone - it will wipe anything, then.... 2. Place HDD in 10 gallon drum of Gasoline/Diesel mixture - couple of gallons will do. Gas ensures rapid combustion, Diesel ensure it will burn long enough to completely melt the HDD. Then......., 3. Place HDD in an old dis-used Bank Vault and apply 1 Kg of "Plastic Fantastic" - C4 - Semtex and it's fun to use. Used to go fishing with it when in Military! We called it "Expanding Bait." I'd like to see the Feds decode that HDD. Ps: if you cannot get your hands on some C4, just use a mix of Diesel and Superphophate. Uncle Osama says it works a trick. Just be careful not to buy large quantities, thuis drawing attention to yourself.

Mike
Mike

Is your data really that important? I do data recovery and it takes a lot of work, time and knowledge. Some one would have to be very motivated to want to attempt to recover your information after the drive was wiped 7x's. In my case it is lots of my client's money that motivates me.

Trs16b
Trs16b

Bulk tape eraser *ZAP*, does wonders. When in real doubt a hammer works quite well too. Spend 4 hours re-writing over data 7 times? You have to be kidding. Who needs this level of security NAMBLA, Osama? What are you people up too? I used to have NSA as a client they just incinerated old drives. Works well and improves the economy!

TBBrick
TBBrick

Now if someone/Gov ***really*** wants the data bad enough to hack thru the CAN 14x rewrite and they're got the resources, of course they will get it. But for everyone else, DBAN will do the trick.

jbitgood
jbitgood

Aside from the fact that you don't get full functionality in the free version, this just seems to be an overly complex way of accomplishing the same thing that the tried and true DBAN does -- just grab an ISO, burn it, and you're done. There are plenty of ways to make your USB drive look like a CD if you need to go that route.

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

I've been using DBAN for years. If you want an even more "sanitized" wipe, use the Canadian standard. It does a 14x overwrite. Personally, though it is theoretically possible to get data off a disk that has not been wiped multiple times, I do not believe that anyone other than the federal government has the means to do this. For most instances a single wipe of ones and zeros would do.

b4real
b4real

I would still like the drives usable at the end :)

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

Somehow, I don't think it would be safe to use these options in my office. Besides, why waste a perfectly good HDD?

efehling57
efehling57

...those printer/copiers with hard drives storing all your sensitive documents.

brian
brian

that is worth that much. Not very often though.

turbinepilot
turbinepilot

Our company uses a SAN with several storage arrays. The logical storage that each server sees is physically dispersed across dozens or even hundreds of physical drives. Taking a hammer or magnetic field to that many drives would not only "secure" the particular server's storage but would also knock a lot of other servers down in the process.

cedpm
cedpm

Companies that lease computers are required to return them if they choose not to buy out the lease. In these cases the computer must be returned in working condition else the company gets charged the full amount of the computer. Not wanting their data to be on those hard drives, companies wipe the systems before return and then place a standard version of the operating system on the machine. This satisfies both the company returning the machine as well as the leasing company.

engsoft
engsoft

Drilling holes in the hard drive will keep it from being accessed. Plus you get to play with power tools lol.

b4real
b4real

As what Active@ Kill Disk can bring.

jwebfoot2togo
jwebfoot2togo

I admit I have never used DBan but have used Active Kill Disk for a couple of years. And it works great. Zeroed out HDDs including those little 8 or 16 meg useless sectors. In all fairness I will also try DBan and see how the two compare. But so far Active Kill is the best I've found.

b4real
b4real

The licensed version of Active@ Kill Disk does.

thoenny
thoenny

will a "dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda" do the same job?

Tank-at-Large
Tank-at-Large

While I am sure there are agencies that can recover writen over and zerod-our hard drives, I know for a fact that several Govenment agencies and others came to Iomega back in it's haydays. We had a data recovery section that could do wonders with the most damaged of hardrives and disks.

Bob N.
Bob N.

You are correct that the Drive eRazer is not a degausser. Once the drives have been wiped with this hardware-based tool you can re-format them and reuse them as you would any other hard drive.

b4real
b4real

Multi-Function devices do apply to these situations as well.

b4real
b4real

There is data. Further, take a hard drive that was part of some sort of array - then it is wiped. Goodness, good luck getting anything then. Hey, look mom, I found a parity bit!

brian
brian

is lease the computer and then replace the hard drive. When I no longer wish to lease that machine, replace the original leased drive and keep the one with my data on it. I've had so many bad laptop purchases in a row I've been doing this for those too, just so I can ship back quickly if I have to.

harryolden
harryolden

I go to Goverment computer sales and buy computers that dont work, and you would be supprised on what I find in them A little bit of knowledge is Dangerous

video2012
video2012

I like your hutzpah. I was back in the days of banging out these HD's to Joan Jets "I Love Rock & Roll" with a hammer, a drill has much more finesse!

flez
flez

1. Drop HDD in a strong Solvent - MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone - it will wipe anything, then.... 2. Place HDD in 10 gallon drum of Gasoline/Diesel mixture - couple of gallons will do. Gas ensures rapid combustion, Diesel ensure it will burn long enough to completely melt the HDD. Then......., 3. Place HDD in an old dis-used Bank Vault and apply 1 Kg of "Plastic Fantastic" - C4 - Semtex and it's fun to use. Used to go fishing with it when in Military! We called it "Expanding Bait." I'd like to see the Feds decode that HDD. Ps: if you cannot get your hands on some C4, just use a mix of Diesel and Superphophate. Uncle Osama says it works a trick. Just be careful not to buy large quantities, thuis drawing attention to yourself.

pgit
pgit

I only have access to a 9. It belongs to a female veterinarian friend of mine. She lives in the city, I'm in the country so we set up here to shoot targets.

brian
brian

Data can still be recovered from the shards. What they do is piece as many of the broken bits together as they can, on top of a rotating table like a record. A finely controlled read head manually goes over the broken bits and will pick up the data just fine. With today's data densities, a shard the size of your little fingernail could contain thousands of emails, the user's cached passwords, spreadsheets full of employee data, the thumbs.db file from a child pornographer's "collection". Truncated, but readable.

b4real
b4real

For situations where the hard drive is not able to be wiped - such as if it is failed.

tnboren
tnboren

or is 9mm enough? I'd go with the .40 just to be safe.

interpoI
interpoI

apps work fine, Active@ does contain more choices and extra programs with it that DBAN does not have...at least with the paid version. It can wipe slack/free space as well as let you view sectors and partitions etc... But like I said they both work. It's good to have choices...

brian
brian

Basically they have written software that does the steps that would result in a certified wipe. They just cannot SAY it is a certified wipe either because they have not had it certified by the appropriate agency or because they simply don't want to deal with arguing the point with someone who claims they leaked data (whether true or not) because of DBan. The distinction really only affects people who are in a position to be required by law or contract to issue a "certified" wipe. I'm sure there's no difference in the security or conformity, just a difference in the endorsement as per having the little label that says "yes the authorities inspected this".

thoenny
thoenny

... and to be really sure, do that twice :-) Thanks for your explanation. But is it really possible to recreate Information after it was overwritten? Imagine I have a disc with 10 Word and/or PDF documents on it an I zero it with dd. I believe that one can recreate a certain amount of Information with a certain probabillity, but how do you know wich Bit belongs to what document?

brian
brian

... though it's highly unlikely there would be consequence for the difference. dd with if=/dev/zero will write zeroes. The utilities they're talking about will write random nonrepeating data output by specially constructed random functions (better than /dev/random) and then write zeroes. Think about it this way. Say you have paper you have written to with pen... Writing zeroes is like marking over it with a felt tip marker. You can still read it, but you have to try harder than most people feel like, and you have to know how to look. /dev/random is like writing the first N pages of War and Peace over what you wrote, and then marking over with a felt tip marker. Obscures it much better, but someone who knows what the words are in War and Peace will be able to subtract out that pattern and arrive at what you wrote. The super-secure govt. rated utilities write truly random letters multiple times in a way that they don't think anyone could ever determine the pattern they are writing. But if you're a home user and you are using DoD rated utilities to wipe your disk, you probably also wear a tinfoil hat.