Are you trying to sell an old computer and want to clean the hard drive before selling it? Whatever the reason, there are many programs out there that can help you erase not only data on a hard drive, but erase it so it can never be restored. If you have a lot of sensitive information, we recommend that you perform a secure hard drive erase.
A secure wipe basically executes a low-level format so that the whole disk is overwritten with 0's. Other software will write more unwanted data to the disk so that there is no trace of what was there before. Either way, no one will be able to extract the original data from the hard drive because it will be completely gone.
In this post, I will mention five popular enough programs that you can use to properly erase a hard drive properly. There are so many good free programs that you don't really need to spend money on doing something like wiping a hard drive. You will have practically the same results using freeware.
DBan (Darik's Boot and Nuke)
This is probably the most popular program and basically a standalone boot disk. Create a bootable CD using CDBurnerXP or any other burning program you like and start the CD when prompted after the computer restarts.
You can choose from several cleaning methods, including Gutmann Wipe, Department of Defense Short and Medium and others. I have used this program multiple times and have found that it does an excellent job of erasing data on many different types of hard drives. If, for some reason, DBan doesn't work for you, you can try the other programs mentioned below.
KillDisk available in two versions: free and professional. The much better professional version of DBan in terms of options, but it's not worth shelling out $ 40 or $ 50. The free version only has one way to erase data on a hard drive (erasing with one-pass zeros), but still good enough for decent hard drive cleaning. Definitely better DBan since you can use DoD 5220.22-M protocol.
If you buy the program, you have a good set of 17 choices for deleting your data:
You can use the program directly from Windows, via DOS or use the bootable media so you can erase any disk whether you are using Windows, Linux, OS X, etc. If you need to erase a large number of discs, it may be worth the monetary investment, otherwise you are good with the free version.
Another good Disk Wipe freeware app. The only disadvantage is that it is an app for Windows, therefore it is necessary to run it from an already existing operating system, while the other two mentioned above can be started using a CD or a diskette. And since it is an app for Windows, it can actually erase only hard drives with Windows formatting (NTFS, FAT32, FAT, etc.).
However, if that's not a problem for you, then the fantastic program! portable and requires no installation, so you can take it to a USB stick or simply email it to yourself. It can erase hard drives, memory sticks, SD cards, etc.
It also supports advanced algorithms such as DoD 5220-22.M, US Army and Peter Guttman.
Another program similar to Disk Wipe Eraser. Open source software is updated routinely. The latest version supports Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. Again, the downside that only supports the Windows operating system and can only wipe data on drives that support Windows.
Eraser doesn't support many advanced algorithms like the other programs mentioned above and therefore not the best option if you really need to securely wipe your hard drive. a free option and it does the job, but there is more risk in using this program.
Low level HDD formatting tool
This program is free, but has a speed limit, which is around 180 GB per hour. If you spend a whopping $ 3, you can get the program without any speed limit. It supports SATA, IDE, SCSI, SAS, USB and Firewire drives, which is nice.
Again, like the last two mentioned, it only supports the Windows operating system, so if you have a hard drive from a different operating system, you will need to connect it to the Windows PC you are using.
Overall, the best options are DBan and KillDisk to get virtually any erased hard drive with the highest level of security. If those don't work for you or the cost too much, you can try any of the other three programs mentioned.
Is there a program you use to securely erase data? If so, post a comment here and let us know. To enjoy!