How to Completely Wipe a Hard Drive Clean Instructions
The phrase wipe a hard drive stands for erasing the drive and all the information stored on it. A simple delete will not erase completely the contents on the hard drive and even formatting will not completely wipe a hard drive. In order to completely wipe the hard drive clean you will need to take one additional extra step.
Usually when a hard drive is being formatted or one partition is deleted; only the file system is being deleted, which makes the data invisible or no longer blatantly indexed, however not completely gone. This means that if you use a special hardware or a file recovery program, the deleted files can be easily recovered.
In order to ensure that all of your private information will be permanently deleted, it is required that you wipe the hard drive using special software.
Note: Check the tips bellow for info on how to do “simple” wipe using the format command in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista. Bellow is the guide on how to completely wipe a hard drive.
How to Wipe a Computer Hard Drive
It could take from several minutes to up to several hours to complete the hard drive erase procedure. It all depends on how big is the hard drive and which software or method you are going to use to wipe it clean.
- First, backup all the files you intend to keep. Once the hard drive wipe is finished, it will be impossible to recover any data from the drive back.
Note: Often, more than one drive (volumes) exists on a single hard drive. You can see each volume from the Disc Management tool in Windows.
- You will need a special software-Download a free data destruction program. You can choose any of the eight programs i have put on that list. They all work great and can be used to completely wipe a hard drive outside of Windows, which is absolutely necessary feature if you want to wipe the hard drive which has Windows Installed on.
Tip: My recommendation is to go with DBAN software. This is one of the most widely used hard drive wiping tools. You can check the online tutorial How to Wipe a Hard Drive with DBAN for more details.
Note: There is more than one method to completely erase a hard drive, but we recommend using data destruction software since it is the easiest and it allows the hard drive to be used again.
- Install the software following any required steps. If you are installing a bootable program such as DBAN, put the ISO image on a CD/DVD or a USB flash drive.
- In case you are using CD/DVD, you will need to burn the ISO image to a disc and then boot from the disc to run the program
- If you use USB flash drive, then burn the ISO image to the USB device and after that boot from that USB drive to begin
- Follow the program’s instructions to wipe the hard drive
Note: The majority of the data destruction programs use several different methods to wipe a hard drive. Check the Data Sanitization Methods to see the effectiveness of each method.
- Once you’ve properly erased the hard drive, you can be certain that all the info that was previously stored on the drive is now permanently gone
- After this point you can do whatever you want with the hard drive, it is safe to install Windows again on it, create a new partition, throw it or give it away etc…
Advices and additional info on Wiping Hard drives
- If you use one of the bootable tools which I have noted above, the wiping procedure will be independent form the OS. This also means that you can use exactly the same process to wipe a hard drive if you are using Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Linux, or any other PC operating system.
- Since the introduction of Windows Vista, the format process has been altered and to each standard (non-quick) format a single write zero pass is applied. In case a single write zero pass gets the job done for you, then you can assume that the drive has been wiped clean even after regular format in Windows 10 all the way to Windows Vista. But if you insist on something safer, then you can safely continue following the hard drive wipe instructions above.
Remember that you are wiping only the partition which you are formatting. If your physical hard drive has more than one partition, then it will be necessary that you format those additional drives.
In order to ensure that all of the files you have just deleted will be permanently gone, then it is recommended that you use data wiping tool. You can check this list Free File Shredder Software Programs for suitable programs to “destruct” individual files in accordance to your needs.
These “shredder” programs also do a free space wipe, which wipes all the free space on your hard drive, that will include also a space that might previously contained deleted files.