How to Wipe Hard Drive – To erase a hard drive is to completely erase the drive from all information. Erasing everything that does not erase the hard drive and formatting does not normally erase the hard drive. You must take extra steps to erase the hard drive so that data cannot be reconstructed easily later.
When you want to format a hard drive; or delete a partition.You always delete the file system; make data invisible, or no longer actively indexed, but not losing. The file recovery program or specialized hardware often recovers information.
If you want to ensure that your personal information is lost forever, you must erase the hard drive using special software.
See the tips at the bottom of the page for information about “simple” removal using formatting commands on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista.
How to Wipe a Computer Hard Drive
This process can take several minutes to several hours depending on how big the drive is and what method you choose.
1. Back up anything you want to keep, like photos, software product keys, etc. When the hard drive wipe is complete, there is absolutely no way to get anything on the drive back.
Tip: If you already use an online backup service, you can safely assume that all your important files have been backed up online. If you are not yet proactive, choose from several free offline backup tools that can save your files to an external hard drive.
Important: Back up everything you want to save; sometimes multiple virtual drives share space on one physical hard drive. Look at the drive (volume) that sits on the hard drive from the Disk Management tool in Windows.
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2. Download a free data destruction program. One of the first six programs that we recommend on that list will work properly because it can be used to erase a hard drive from outside Windows, a feature that is needed if you want to erase the hard drive where Windows is installed.
We are big fans of DBAN, our first choice on the list. This is perhaps the most used hard drive swabs. See the How to Wipe Hard Drive tutorial with the DBAN tutorial if you are worried about wiping the hard drive or prefer more detailed steps.
Important: DBAN does not delete the solid state drive. If you need to remove the SSD, you should find another program in the list mentioned above.
Note: Wiping the hard drive is an independent operating system if you use one of the bootable tools from our list.
Tip: There are several ways to erase a hard drive completely, but using data destruction software is the easiest and allow hard drive to be used again.
3. Next, complete any steps needed to install the software or, in the case of a bootable program such as DBAN, get an ISO image on a CD or DVD disc, or a USB device such as a flash drive:
If you use a CD or DVD, this process usually involves burning the ISO image to disk and then booting from the disk to run the program.
If you use a flash drive or other USB drive, this process usually involves burning the ISO image to a USB device and then booting from the USB drive to begin.
4. Clean the hard drive according to program instructions.
Note: Most data destruction programs offer several different methods for erasing a hard drive. If you want to know about the effectiveness or the method used to complete hard drive erasure, see Data Sanitation Method.
Tip: Connect your laptop or verify that the battery is fully charged. The total time required to complete HDD removal depends on the drive size and computer speed.
5. After wiping the hard drive properly, you can be sure that any information on the drive is now lost forever.
You can now install Windows on a drive, create a new partition, sell or give away a hard drive or computer, recycle or dispose of it, restore supported files, or whatever you need to do.
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Alternative Hard Drive Removal Simple
Starting with Windows Vista, the format process changes and one zero mark is applied to each standard format (not fast). In other words, the removal of a very basic hard drive is done during formatting.
If a zero pass write is good enough for you, consider your drive deleted after the usual format in Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista. If you want something safer, follow the hard drive removal instructions above.
This is only the deletion of the partition that you formatted. If you have more than one partition on a physical hard drive, you must format the additional drive as well if you want to treat the entire physical disk as “erased.”
Is Shredding Files What Are You Really After?
If what you really want to do is ensure that the files that you delete regularly are completely lost and cannot be retrieved with special tools, the data deletion program is more than you need. See our list of free file destroyer software programs for programs that “destroy” individual files based on needs.
Many of these paper shredder programs also do what is called removing free space, which is the removal of all “free” space on your hard drive. The aim is to ensure that the file that you have deleted is actually deleted forever.