How To Totally Wipe A Hard Disk Drive
If you’re really proficient in computers, you know that deleting a file or folder with the DEL button won’t completely erase it. It only removes the icon and dumps it in your Recycle Bin, which can later be restored and used. For a myriad of reasons, it sometimes becomes imperative to delete data from your computer permanently. To do so, one must focus on the computer’s hard disk drive, which is essentially the storage core of the system and constitutes all files, folders, and applications that power the machine.
Why Would You Need to Wipe a Hard Disk Drive?
A common reason to wipe out a hard disk drive is when documents and programs have become corrupted with virus or other malicious software that is complicated to resolve using merely a free antivirus software. Another reason to wipe clean the hard drive is if you plan on selling or donating the computer and is worried that your personal data might be accessed and used. For first-timers, here is a step-by-step guide on how to wipe hard disk drives.
Back Up Data
For starters, make sure vital data is backed up to a media like a flash drive, external hard drive, or CD prior making any attempts to erase it. Remember, there’s no undo button after you’ve performed a complete wiping on your hard disk drive. It can be complex if not impossible to recover the files back.
Next, perform a disk reformat if you are only trying to erase data located on the hard disk drive, reinstall your operating system, and start with the system’s default settings. If you bought the computer from brands like HP, Dell, or Compaq, check if you have a system recovery disk that came with the package. This disk will enable you to format the drive and reinstall the operating system. Simply pop in the disk and the program will provide step-by-step instructions you need to follow for a successful drive reformat.
Another means of wiping a hard disk drive is by using DOS command, which is recommended for advanced computer users. Open the command link prompt, press on the Start button and enter “cmd”. A command line segment will emerge. Enter “format c:/u”. This is known as an unconditional format and is more reliable than a fast reformat. Once completed, you’ll have to use your OS disk to reinstall your operating system of choice.
If you plan on donating or selling the unit and are apprehensive about your personal data being accessed, a reformat may not suffice, as a skilled user can recover the erased information using specialized techniques or advanced programs. Disk wiping, also known as data dumping, is a more secure way of getting rid of your personal data from the system. The process can be performed using both free and paid software or by hiring tech security firms that provide disk wiping services.
Disk wiping is not used solely for hard drives, but for any storage device like a CD, flash drive, etc. Though disk wiping formulas vary from software to software, they basically end in the entire disk being written with a number, either zero or one. Popular disk wipe programs include Kill Disk, Darik’s Boot and Nuke, Revo Uninstaller, and Seagate Disk Wizard. These programs are very easy to use with a simple interface to navigate across. Some offer other tasks aside from wiping, such as evidence removal, program uninstaller, hard drive cleaner, etc.
Madison Gallagher is a computer specialist and contributing writer for Data Recovery group, providers of hard drive data recovery services.