How to completely wipe all of the data from your hard drive

by Ross McKillop on September 11, 2007

Security

This tutorial will guide you in using Darik’s Boot and Nuke (“DBAN”) – to securely wipe (delete) all of the data from your hard drive. Why would you want to securely wipe all of the data on your drive? Perhaps you’re selling your computer, donating it to charity, or recycling it. Before you do so, consider this – even when you delete files, they’re not actually removed from your hard drive. Using data recovery tools, many files can be restored from the average hard drive. In fact, even after a hard drive has been formatted, data can be recovered from it. Using DBAN “prevents or thoroughly hinders all known techniques of hard disk forensic analysis”.

  1. Start by downloading the DBAN .iso to create a boot CD, or the floppy disk version. If you need help creating a boot CD from the .iso file, see this tutorial.
  2. After you’ve made the boot CD or floppy, set your computer to boot from that drive.
  3. Insert the CD or floppy, and boot your computer. You’ll be presented with the DBAN overview screen.
  4. dban
    click to enlarge

  5. NOTE: you are now about to completely erase the contents of your hard drive, this is your last chance to back out. At the boot: prompt, type autonuke and hit enter.
  6. dban
    click to enlarge

  7. DBAN will start up.
  8. dban
    click to enlarge

  9. And begin to wipe your hard drive. The time it takes to completely wipe your hard drive varies depending on its size and speed.
  10. dban
    click to enlarge

  11. Once DBAN has wiped your drive, you’ll be presented with a “DBAN succeeded” window. If you have a floppy in your floppy drive, you can hit ENTER to save a log file of the DBAN wipe. That’s it – you’re done.
  12. dban
    click to enlarge

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  • http://riseagain.wordpress.com CDriK

    Nice n simple way to securely erase DD, good.

  • http://www.masteremployment.com Master Employment

    I think that to make 300% sure that your docs are gone, you better physically destroy your hard drive.

  • Joe

    Another alternative is to install Windows ;?

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  • Kruton

    I think that to make 300% sure that your docs are gone, you better physically destroy your hard drive.

    If only there weren’t tools that can recover data from hard drives that were smashed or in floods or fires.

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  • jack dawson

    if the disk size is say 40 GB, how long will it take DBAN to do its work ?

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    @ jack dawson:

    An hour or two – it depends on what level of wipe you choose. I did a “fast” wipe on a 300GB HD a couple of weeks ago, and it took 6 hours, give or take.

  • George

    How complete is the wipe?

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    Without physically melting your hard drive it’s always *technically* possible to recover data. With autonuke it uses 3 passes, which makes
    it impossible for consumer software to recover any data. If the drive was taken to the NSA I’m sure they could recover SOME partial data. In other words, it’s very safe. If you’re really, really paranoid there’s a 7 pass method as well. Though even then, I’m sure the NSA could recover something.

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  • Dan

    There is also the 35 pass Guttman wipe. ;) Though you might just end up with a pile of hard drive dust after this one….

  • Johnny

    Yeah. This is a good way to do it. However, there is a safer option. First install windows vista home basic (or any version of vista). Then, turn off autosave (it usually turns itself off automatically when you are doing something very important but you cant be too sure with windows). Next, do some important work. 3-8 minutes later your computer will have crashed and you are presented with the BSoD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Screen_of_Death) and your work wont be saved. You will be so pissed off that you will just smash up your hard drive til their are only protons left. No one can bring it back. Done.

    Heres one I made earlier! http://www.crucialminutiae.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/smashed-computer.jpg

    Hope this helps!

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    Note: The above comment from Johnny was a joke (just in cause you were confused). I didn’t delete it because I actually chuckled when I read it.

    For what it’s worth, Vista runs like a dream on my MacBook Pro (via Bootcamp). It hasn’t crashed once – though I’ll admit I only use it a couple times a week.

  • Needs Help

    If i use this will it return my computer to the way i bought it.Like with the programs it comes with?

  • Johnny

    Thanks!

    Its a good idea to have vista (or XP in my case) on your mac. Not much need for it but it does come in handy sometimes.

    Tru Dat

  • http://7chan.org ANON

    If i use this will it return my computer to the way i bought it.Like with the programs it comes with?
    no. everything will be permanantly gone. Make sure you have a backup disk handy if you do this or you’ll be screwed.

  • EL

    if I use the DBAN, and wipe everything off my hard drive, can I still use the operating system reinstallation disk? Is the operating system reinstallation disk the same thing as creating a boot CD?

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    @EL

    The OS reinstallation disk is a boot CD, yes. Once you use DBAN, your hard drive will be completely wiped clean. No OS, no nothing. If you then boot from your re-install disk, it will prompt you to reinstall the entire operating system (Windows I’m guessing?). Before you use DBAN, make sure to backup anything you don’t want permanently deleted.

  • mr.blue

    este DBAN é espèctaculo,limpei um HDD de 80GB para testar e funcionou altamente tudo a 100%? adorei!!!!,Obrigado por este tutorial.

  • PDGMAX

    Je viens de tester DBAN avec l’image iso fournie en lien sur cette page.
    Cependant impossible de faire fonctionner le logiciel.
    En suivant à la lettre le tuto, je passe du point 5 directement au point 7 (cf illustration du tuto)
    Et le message que j’ai est le suiv

  • pdgmac

    Bonjour,
    impossible de faire fonctionner le logiciel DBAN !!!
    le message d’erreur est le suivant
    DBAN finished with non fatal errors
    This is usually caused by deskes with bad sector.
    Qulqu’un pourrait il m’aider?

  • Tyson

    Only way to be sure…

    http://edrsolutions.com/

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  • chris

    i want to completely wipe my computer but use it again, will i still have my Windows Xp Installed?

  • John Doe

    Inicie el DBan parar borra el disco de 30Gb desde una Notebook y me tira … mas 60hs! Ya paso una hora y solo hizo el 2%… Alguna idea? :-(

  • Daniel

    OI
    Eu estou a usar esse programa num outro pc que eu tenho, e o disco tem 320GB, e o tempo que aquilo diz que vai demorar sao cerca de 15547:45:22 isto é absurdo :=O

    O que se passa é que o disco está completamente eminente ou seja, metade do disco está com bad sectors. Dizeram-me que esse programa ajudava a reparar esses bad sectors , eu nao sei se é verdade ou não… entao gostava de saber se esse programa repara mesmo os bad sectors ou é melhor comprar disco novo?

    Espero resposta,

    Valeu! ;)

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  • jake

    does this delete windows off of your computer.. if so how do you recover windows?

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    jake –

    You would need the Windows installer disk, and boot your computer with that disc in the CD/DVD drive. Then you would go through the entire process of installing Windows from scratch.

  • william

    n sei se ainda me podem responder + esse progama so apagar os arquivos e deixa o windows ou ele apaga td msm ate o windows?

  • Sean

    Right. I made the cd and i have put it into my other computer, When i switched my pc on it crashed and switched to ‘Startup repair’ my computer seems to now be completely unusable! What is all this about ?

  • Jhonny

    Just a question, does the CCleaner wipe the data the same as your’s program? Even when using 35 passes? Just to know.

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    Jhonny,

    No. CCleaner wipes unnecessary files, folders and registry entries (among other things) from your PC – helping it run faster. Windows and all of your programs stay completely intact. This tutorial (wipe data from your drive) will literally erase absolutely everything on your PC – including the operating system (Windows, Linux etc).

  • Jhonny

    Thanks for the answer. Just one more thing, on the site where you get your program it advises to use a certain program called eraser, which basically erases all of your data, like internet history, cookies, you name it, but without damaging your operating system, should I get that? As I would like to have no history whatsoever on my hard disk that can be recovered with any recovery program (beside the NSA obviously, but this is not the case) while having my operating system intact, will that work?
    Thanks again.

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  • Edson

    se vc quer realmente destruir tudo em seu HD tem que usar uma furadeira e detonar todo o disco de su hd! eu duvido que alguem consiga recuperar algo ou se for possivel a recuperação vai custar uma fortuna e só sera possivel em USA! Abrass