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Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

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Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

Hi Guys and Gals,
I'm looking for a tool for trashing HDDs on a heap of PC's I'm replacing at work.
In the past I've gone for the physical destruction method, but this renders the HDD useless for anybody else.
I've spotted quite a few paid-for versions, and I'm not adverse to shelling out a few quid if thats what's required - however experience tells me that a free version would possibly do the job just as well!
Ideally looking for something that I can boot from USB key to use if possible. If not, CD or Floppy might be an option.
44 REPLIES
acr
Rising Star
Posts: 222
Thanks: 13
Fixes: 1
Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

Have a look at this:-
http://dban.sourceforge.net/
It has worked for me in the past.

Community Veteran
Posts: 4,729
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

Thirded.
But watch out for the time it takes on large hard drives with very secure algorithms.
Chilly
Community Veteran
Posts: 7,276
Thanks: 72
Fixes: 2
Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

Please, without making any uncomfortable suggestions whatsoever or casting aspersions anywhere. When the police confiscate computers during their investigations, it seems they are able to access any material on HDD's WHATEVER the owner does to avoid this. If they can do it, no doubt there are others outside the boys in blue who can do it as well.
If you really want to deal with an HDD so that there is no possible chance previous files can be extracted, then may I suggest a shiny 12lb hammer.
Not strictly the answer to your post, but perhaps the only sure fire way. 
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
Tyreal74
Grafter
Posts: 292
Registered: 31-07-2007

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

the data they can access is never 100%, they can only get a certain percantage if theyre lucky.
data destruction tools usually do work and police usually dont bother with destryoed drives, becuase most of the ones they confiscate havent been destroyed
so fourthed from me
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,823
Thanks: 245
Fixes: 10
Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

Files can be easily recovered if they have just been "deleted".
Even if sectors have been overwritten, it is often possible to recover data because the heads don't align into perfectly the same place. This means that there is a very weak ghost of the original data.
To securely delete a file you must overwrite the actual data with some pattern of bits repeatedly (dozens of times).

N/A

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

Quote from: petlew
If you really want to deal with an HDD so that there is no possible chance previous files can be extracted, then may I suggest a shiny 12lb hammer.

You have to get the pieces of platter *very* small for it to truly work though Wink
Quote from: axisofevil
Files can be easily recovered if they have just been "deleted".

Precisely the reason for posting here. Wink
I am fully aware of how much data can be retrieved from HDDs from past experience:- Even large capacity ones from RAID5 arrays which have been physically damaged can return a large amount of data. Although, yes, it costs *a lot*tm of money.
jagger
Grafter
Posts: 411
Registered: 25-06-2007

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

A lot of full system suites have hard drive tools.Tune Up Utilities and Norton Systemworks do I believe.
If you want to release the drives into the wild afterwards they need to be overwritten several times.I think TU does it seven times or so by writing noughts and ones to every sector over and over.To recover any useful data after something like this would cost a fortune.
If you absolutely never,ever want anyone to see what was on the disk then, do the above,then set fire to it at high temperature,then smash it into little pieces with a large hammer and mail the pieces to different parts of the world.The info would still,theoretically, be recoverable but would cost more than a moonshot to retrieve.
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,613
Thanks: 218
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.


I've always been told that the only safe way is by physical destruction of the HD.  One simply method I read was to hammer a nail through the casing into the HD which will then render it useless. 
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,823
Thanks: 245
Fixes: 10
Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

Sandpapering the recording surfaces works.
As does opening the drive and filling it with glue.

N/A

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

The nail through the HDD will render the disk useless, but won't prevent somebody from recovering the data from it if they had the patience and the right kit.
The other options would probably work though, but it does make it tricky to sell the HDD afterwards.
I'll stick to Ruslyn's suggestion methinks. Wink
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,112
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

A quick cheat might be to have a standard image of a HD filled with useless files that are of no interest to anyone and restore it to all the drives (in sector for sector mode: Acronis) Grin
Relatively quick to do and anyone nosing about will have endless hours of fun scouring your useless data, everyone is a winner!
N/A

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

Hmm, think I have some old 'useless' ones from HMRC that I could use....
</lousy_jest>
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: 18-07-2007

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

I've seen forums where people recommend you use a hex editor to fill the old drive with zero's several times over (just create a file the same size as the drive apparently...)
Sounds like a lot of effort, but worth it in the end. Wonder which is the fastest method.
N/A

Re: Securely trash HDDs before disposal.

Heh, I've got quite a few to do, so I suppose I could have a race.....
Anybody wanna buy a Dell Optiplex GX1?
*SHOCK*
Looked for a picture of a GX1, and came across somebody selling em for £70 each. Crikey!
The ones I have, have a build date of 1999, and given the spec on them, I don't imagine his would be much newer.
Anyone wanna give *me* £70 for one? (I'll throw in a 15" CRT too if you want Tongue)
Actually, in seriousness - if anybody has an interest in OSless machines of vintage calibre, and/or 17" CRT monitors who is willing to collect from the Leeds/Bradford border, do shout up.