Being a tech person I know that just deleting a file from within Windows or Linux doesn’t assure that the data isn’t recoverable. Most files when removed using normal operating system delete functions can still be recovered with a variety of fairly easy-to-use utilities.
Because of this, I historically have pulled hard drives from systems before donating, recycling, or disposing of them. Also, whenever I upgrade hard drives (which is more frequently than perhaps I should admit) I clone the old drive to the new one and put the old drive in my “drive pile”. Because of this practice, I find myself with a huge pile of hard drives.
Today I’ve decided to get rid of the pile. I’m not just going to throw out the drives though – both for security reasons and also because the drives work fine, and in some cases are really nice drives (but perhaps I went for a newer/faster/bigger model).
What’s the solution that can assure that your personal data isn’t going to be handed over to some nefarious soul who will start recovering files for fun (or unethical purposes)? Securely wipe the hard drives first.
After some online research I decided to use DBAN which is a free data wiping utility. This utility comes as an ISO and is intended to be burned to media so that it can then be used to boot your PC. You can burn the ISO to a CD or other bootable media. I’ve decided to burn the ISO to a USB stick using the Rufus Bootable USB Creator.
Creating the bootable USB was super easy. Booting to the USB stick was also nice and easy (pressing F12 during boot for most systems allows you to select to boot to an inserted USB [provided it is specifically formatted as bootable, like Rufus will do]). I did this and have DBAN running on a couple of systems even now as I type this.
Apparently securely wiping data from a hard drive is a slow process. It looks like this will be running for the better part of the afternoon – for just the first drive. Thankfully it doesn’t require any interaction though so I have it running from an old PC and wiping the attached drives. I’ll check on it tonight or in the morning then swap in more drives and restart it. Within a few days I should have the drives wiped and then I can sell or donate them without worrying about any lingering sensitive data.