Destroying/Clearing Hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by longball11, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. longball11 macrumors 6502a

    longball11

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    #1
    I'm fairly new to doing this. I am going to be getting rid of a PC soon and I would like to know how to clear the hard drive completely clean so that no one who takes the machine if i throw it away attempts to take control of things that are on this computer.
    Also, I may let my dad or mom clear the hard drive but I don't want to let them do so if there is any way they look at the stuff that I've looked at on the hard drive and that is porn...
     
  2. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #2
    You said PC, do you mean this as Personal Computer, or a Windows machine? Not wanting to assume anything. The Mac's Disk Utility app can do a secure 35-pass delete on hard drives, which would protect things very well. NSA approved and then some.
     
  3. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #3
    Depends on who you are afraid of and what computer. On MacOS X, you take your Installer DVD, use Disk Utility, and use "secure erase". If you are paranoid you choose 7 times erase. If you are completely madly paranoid you choose 35 times erase and wait a few days until it finishes.

    For Windows: Find some software doing a clear erase. Or remove the hard drive, take pair of pliers to it and destroy any cables, connectors etc. that you can reach. That will stop the evildoers who buy a bunch of computers from your local junk yard and try to harvest data from the hard drives.
     
  4. claimed4all macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    #4
    BFH!

    Big Freegin' Hammer.

    That out to do it, as long as you are no planning on using that drive ever again.
     
  5. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

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    Location:
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    #5
    Unless you the platters are shattered, it's still possible to recover the data. Here's a more refined method: take apart the drive, remove the platters and smash (clay pigeon style if you're like:eek:). Not even Drive Savers will be able to recover any data from that.:cool: I've heard of people drilling holes from top to bottom of the drive. I guess that'll destroy the platters as well.
     
  6. hodgeheg macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2008
    #6
    Google DBAN - works on PCs and Macs. Note, if you have a Core Duo machine or later, get the beta of version 2. It's a free liveCD, it's linux based. It's a tiny ISO file to download, and works well assuming it likes your computer. It works with the vast majority (though apparently not rev B MacBook Airs - just crashes).

    If it's a Mac, you could just use the disk utility having booted off an OS X CD.

    DBAN will completely wipe the disk, so you will have no operating system, so only do this if you're prepared to reinstall.
     
  7. MacAgent84 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    #7
    Definitely using "Secure Erase" in Disk Utility after you boot from your OS X disc is the best way to easily overwrite everything and start fresh, if you're on a MAC. But, if the hard drive you want to erase is still in a PC, you could take it out, hook it up with a S/ATA - USB interface cable to your MAC and use Disk Utility to erase the data without having to reboot. Are you able to take it out to do this?
     
  8. Unspeaked macrumors 68020

    Unspeaked

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    Dec 29, 2003
    Location:
    West Coast
    #8
    Wasn't there a thread about carbide and magnets recently?

    Explosives is the way to go...

    I've heard of data being recovered off shattered platters.

    It has something to do with injection molding and rearranging the pieces (or whatever's left) into a new platter that's part original platter and part molding, then reassembling the drive and reading data.
     
  9. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

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    #9
    Really?:confused::eek: I guess I'll need to grind the platters into dust next time and scatter it across the ocean. There's no such thing as over kill when it comes to keeping your secrets secret.;)
     
  10. Unspeaked macrumors 68020

    Unspeaked

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    Location:
    West Coast
    #10
    The article I was reading that referred to these methods were about a very hardcore FBI/CIA/etc. investigation in which someone had exploded a home. I think it's very, very, very unlikely anyone would go to such lengths over some random drive they found.

    Then again, you can never be too careful :p
     
  11. mknawabi macrumors 6502

    mknawabi

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    Irvine, CA
  12. ElectricSheep macrumors 6502

    ElectricSheep

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    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    Wilmington, DE
    #12
    Considering what has to be done to recover data from a hard disk that has been zeroed with just a single pass, its much easier to reassemble the major fragments of a non-wiped disk and read information off of that.
     
  13. longball11 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    longball11

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    Feb 3, 2009
    #13
    im talking about destroying/erasing my windows XPS machine.
     
  14. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #14
    You do realize what Mac in MacRumors means right ;)

    I never had to do anything like that on my Windows machines so can't recommend any specific software, but I believe some of the anti-virus software has similar functionality.

    Edit: If you do a simple Google search you can turn up stuff really easily, like this.
     
  15. MAGICMOXTER macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    #15
    take the hard drive out, cover with petrol, burn, forget global warming temporarily and your data is long gone. :)

    there are software methods but none are truly safe, but unless your giving it to the NSA for inspection or a proliferating hacker i wouldnt worry.
     
  16. JKitterman macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2006
    #16
    You will want the Ultimate Boot Cd
    www.ultimatebootcd.com/ and look for HDDErase link under Hard Disk Wiping tools. You will have to reinstall the OS afterwards. If your hard drive doesn't support that, just use DBAN Dariks Boot and Nuke
     
  17. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

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    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #17
    Totally! Zeroing is sufficient. Outside FBI or forensic data recovery companies, most people wouldn't have the technology to recover data that has been zeroed.
     
  18. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    Jun 11, 2007
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    Singapore
    #18
    you never know, zeroing the data mightnt be enough for even the most basic of programs.. you must remember that the magnetic field thats written onto the platter from erasing mightnt be completely strong enough to erase it fully! :D
     
  19. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

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    Canada
    #19
    That's just paranoia :)

    However, if you want a high tech solution, you need one of these degaussers.
     
  20. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #20
    no it isnt.
     
  21. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #22
    No you use the Hard Drive Crusher which drills the spindle of the HDD and destroys everything; it's only $11,500 with $999/year of maintenance.

    Otherwise just use the Darik's Nuke and Boot, choose the 35-pass method if you're really paranoid.
     
  22. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #23
    I posed the question to Prosoft Engineering, the makers of Data Rescue II and mentioned that I've heard one pass zero is not secure and this is the response I received:

    I'm not sure where you heard that, but if it was zero'd out or securely erased, the data can't be recovered because all the previous data was overwritten with binary. And, even if it were somehow recovered, the data that comes back will be severely fragmented.

    Alan Lau, Inside Sales Representative
    Prosoft Engineering/Joesoft


    Anyone know how one can buy utilities to easily recover zero'd out hard drives? Has anyone done this before and recovered all their data?
     
  23. ElectricSheep macrumors 6502

    ElectricSheep

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    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    Wilmington, DE
    #24
    The methods for recovering data off of a drive that has been zeroed involve finding extremely tiny portions of the physical data track that were not completely written to. This requires very sensitive, very expensive, very specialized equipment as well as dedication and a lot of time.

    This is not something you can do with a bit of software and consumer equipment in your own garage.
     
  24. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #25

    thats true Sheepy, you do need some intensive hardware (not software) to be able to read the slight and tiny bits of data that havent been written to.

    i had a nice long, educational conversation with Sushi one time about hard drives actually work. its quite interesting. data is not written onto the HD as a 0, or 1. its written as a magnetic pulse/strength/frequency/what have you from 0 to 10. this is where the errors can be read because it mightnt completely erase the whole amount of data.

    but its true, you would get a nice big disk full of errors if you tried that..
     

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