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Windows 7: How to permanently erase a hard drive?


28 Jan 2014   #1

Windows 7 starter 32bit
 
 
How to permanently erase a hard drive?

Hi,

Apologies if I've posted in wrong area or if this has been covered to death but I can't find it!
I have a Dell Inspiron 1012 notebook running windows 7 starter. The computer contains sensitive material which I need to completely and permanently erase so that even if the notebook is professionally examined, it can't be recovered. Before anyone assumes, it's not porn or any dodgy images!
I've been researching shredding software but it's a minefield, can anyone help?
Also, if the software is downloaded, the HD completely erased, will there be a trace on the HD of the date, time etc... And programme which deleted it?
Would I need to reinstall windows after the HD has been erased?

Thanks in advance

DJ


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

28 Jan 2014   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64
 
 

Hi,

It depends on what you want to be left with, and the effort you want to go to. Do you want:

1. A completely blank HDD with absolutely zero information on it (incl. no Windows Starter?, or
2. Windows Starter still on the HDD, but all other securely data deleted?

If you want option 1, then use DBAN:
Darik's Boot and Nuke - Use to Secure Wipe a Hard Drive

Make sure you physically disconnect all other HDD's (incl. USB drives) with the exception of the one that holds DBAN and the disk to be wiped

If you want option 2, then:
1. Delete all sensitive information as you normally would, and empty the Recycle bin, and
2. Securely wipe the deleted data using the Windows CIPHER command
Cipher Command - Overwrite Deleted Data in Windows

Its highly doubtful the data would be recoverable - the more passes you run, the exponentially harder it becomes to retrieve any data. Some select government and security agencies do have the ability to overcome even this wipe, but even then it would take many, many, many hours/days/weeks to do this. It would have to be worth their while, and something tells me you probably aren't harbouring any state secrets, so you aren't worth the effort
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2014   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Dj79794 View Post
Hi,

Apologies if I've posted in wrong area or if this has been covered to death but I can't find it!
I have a Dell Inspiron 1012 notebook running windows 7 starter. The computer contains sensitive material which I need to completely and permanently erase so that even if the notebook is professionally examined, it can't be recovered. Before anyone assumes, it's not porn or any dodgy images!
I've been researching shredding software but it's a minefield, can anyone help?
Also, if the software is downloaded, the HD completely erased, will there be a trace on the HD of the date, time etc... And programme which deleted it?
Would I need to reinstall windows after the HD has been erased?

Thanks in advance

DJ
+1 for the DBAN recommendation. I routinely use it to clean up computers that I donate to our local schools.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


28 Jan 2014   #4

Windows 7 starter 32bit
 
 

That's great thank you. I would like to completely erase everything making it unrecoverable initially. Could I then reinstall windows 7? Also would there be a trace on the HD of the date & time it was erased?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2014   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64
 
 

No, there is no trace of erasure.

For reinstallation, presumably you have the OEM manufacturer recovery media?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2014   #6

Windows 7 starter 32bit
 
 

I'm not sure, I think the original box is in the attic! It's only a notebook so no cd drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2014   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64
 
 

I would double check that before you go further. Alternatively consider the CIPHER route, its just as good but only touches the deleted/free space.

If you plan to sell the notebook on, this is another route that might work for you (it uses the DISKPART CLEAN ALL command to do the wipe):
Windows 7 Installation - Prepare PC to be Sold
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2014   #8

Windows 7 starter 32bit
 
 

Great, thank you for your help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2014   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64
 
 

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 How to permanently erase a hard drive?




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