How to wipe a hard drive

We use our hard drives a lot. They are great for storing the things we do but there comes a time when we upgrade the hard drives for various reasons and we have a lump of metal that just sits there gathering dust until we decide to just throw it away.

Odds are that the day after the drive is carted away in the garbage or dropped off at the recycling center you hear of the horror stories where valuable and private information is collected off discarded hard drives.

Not feeling so good about sending that drive away now are we?

This is something I come across quite often as I am the guy that does the upgrades and the customer looks at me quizzically when I ask them what they would like me to do with the old hard drive. This is one of the bonuses of having me as a computer guru. I actually overwrite or destroy (sometimes both) the hard drive to make it practically unfeasible to even try to get the data off the hard drive.

In most cases I physically destroy the drive for two reasons.
1. Once the platters (where the data is stored) are folded, bent, scratched or otherwise mangled there is little chance that anyone will get anything off those platters.
2. I often salvage the magnets and other useful components out of the drive for other little projects like DIY fridge magnets, rough generators etc.

In cases where the drive just needs to be wiped, I use a tool call DBAN or Darick’s Boot And Nuke. It is slow but can quite securely wipe a hard drive by completely filling it with zeros. There are even modes of deletion used by DBAN that pass USA Department of Defense requirements for trashing hard drives.

If you want to read more about these and other ways to kill a hard drive, have a read of this article by Paul Rubens of eSecurity Planet.