Wipe HD securely

July 18, 2010 at 09:14:51
Specs: Windows XP

I am giving away an old computer which has had all sorts of personal files stuffed on it for years. I read that formatting hard drives does little to truly erase data.

I also read that this is pretty difficult to do a thorough job on, and I wondered whether the following could be a practical solution:

Could I just video the wall of my office in high-def for a few hours? That would use up all space on all three hard drives I have. Then I could just delete those files (not caring whether someone ever wnated to restore them or not!).

Many thanks for your thoughts


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July 18, 2010 at 09:29:58
You don't have to do that. The files you don't want them to access wouldn't be affected. You would only be burning up hdd space that was empty to begin with. Just do a fresh install of XP and that will delete all your old stuff. At least on that partition or drive. If you have other drives, format those too. Unless the person you're giving the pc to works for the CIA, the average person wouldn't have a clue how to recover fragments of a drive. If you really want to wipe them clean, download and install Killdisk. That will write the drives to 0's.

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July 18, 2010 at 09:37:57
If you are truly concerned about the files overwriting them only once will not totally erase them. Even writing ones and zeros to the entire drive multiple times will not fully assure that some data might be recoverable.

This advice is coming too late for the drive in question but I would advise you to avoid writing any information you wouldn't want someone to have access to on the operating system hard drive. You can use external drives or optical disks for that purpose. CDR & DVDR are cheap and secure.

The only sure way to fully protect from someone gaining access to the data is to remove the hard drive from the computer.

Of course then the computer will have much less value, if your intent is to sell it.

If the computer is an OEM that came with some version of Windows pre-installed AND you have the restore disks for it, then you can use a program like kill disk to wipe the drive and feel fairly confident that short of some expensive recovery efforts the data will be gone.

Then use the factory restore disks to reinstall to factory state.

You can download kill disk from the link below. Be sure to unplug any external drives or media prior to running kill disk.


The free version only makes one pass. You should be able to run multiple times if you desire. Not sure about that. One pass is good enough to prevent the casual user from recovering any useful data.

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July 18, 2010 at 10:35:07
OK - thanks guys. I did mean that I would delete all files from the hard drives first and THEN record a pointless video (to force it to reuse the space).

I'll try the killdisk and reinstall route, though - sounds sensible.

Thanks again


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Related Solutions

July 18, 2010 at 10:36:09
Good Luck

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July 19, 2010 at 07:41:15
If you really don't want someone getting your files, erase what you can and then take your frustrations out on the Drive and POUND on it. It's a good Stress Reliever.

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