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Windows 7: Secure Erase / Wipe : Definition and Methods



Secure Erase / Wipe : Definition and Methods

What is a Secure Erase / Wipe and How To Do One
Published by Bare Foot Kid
01 Jul 2011
Published by

Secure Erase / Wipe - and the Basic Methods
A secure erase or more commonly referred to as a wipe is a way to over-write all existing data on a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) / Solid State Drive (SSD) with at least one set of binary zeroes ( 0 ) or ones ( 1 ) so the data cannot be retrieved.

Contrary to popular belief, doing a full format with Windows 7 only over-writes the old disk format configuration data (the MBR) with the new and checks for sector errors, then marks the remaining space to be over-written as needed, it does not over-write (remove) any other data at all, it's all still there including code from previous Operating Systems and all of the old personal data.

It is also very useful before starting the Windows installation process to correct for disk format errors of many kinds, to include over-writing the Linux / Grub boot loader, that is known to cause serious issues when installing Windows to a HDD / SSD that has had Grub as a loader in the past; also to correct installation errors when clean installing Windows 7 to a space that originally contained Windows XP.

A wipe is very effective to 'remove' any previous malware infections and start fresh.
warning   Warning

All the methods outlined in this guide have the capability to over-write any and all data on an entire HDD / SSD so be completely sure you are using the correct method on the correct drive.

These first 2 methods below, to include the clean and the clean all command(s) will only do the entire HDD / SSD they will not do a single partition on a HDD / SSD, they will do the whole drive.
Note   Note

The HDD / SSD partition structure can be viewed in Windows disk management by typing diskmgmt.msc into the Windows start menu search box; it is always better to be safe than sorry, so if you have any doubts, make back-ups of anything you would not want to lose permanently, to external media before you start any of these procedures.
Method One

This is very useful while using Windows to do a wipe of a HDD / SSD that does not have the Windows partition on it as it will not allow a "System" partition to be done; if you just need to over-write the Master Boot Record or "disk format configuration data" use the clean command listed at #6, if you need to over-write the entire HDD / SSD use the clean all command listed at #7 in this tutorial.
Disk - Clean and Clean All with Diskpart Command

Method Two

If you need to do a secure erase / wipe to a HDD / SSD before you start a Windows installation, see Step One and then to use the command-line to create the partition(s) to do the installation to, see Step Two #2 or #3 of this tutorial.

Have a look here to view additional important information on this entire process.
SSD / HDD : Optimize for Windows Reinstallation

Method Three

This is similar to what is commonly known as a file shredder, making it no longer necessary to use third-party software to do a secure delete (secure erase) of files or any other data you need to over-write so they can't be recovered from your system without your knowledge.

This does not simply delete data it's pointed at, it completely over-writes it.
Permanently Delete - Add to Context Menu
If you are an adventurous sort and would like to use the command line instead, type sdelete in an elevated command window to secure delete files or data of any type you may need to wipe / over-write.


Method Four

If you don't want to wipe the entire HDD / SSD, you can do a partition-specific wipe of any single partition using the Partition Wizard free software, have a look at Option Two in the tutorial at this link below to get some ideas.
Partition Wizard : Use the Bootable CD
Enjoy!

01 Jul 2011   #1
Golden

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64
 
 

Quality! I'm happy to see that METHOD 3 correctly states that a secure erase can be achieved easily without the need for 3rd party applications, or algorithms such as DoD or Gutmann etc.

Nicely done Sir!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jul 2011   #2
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Golden View Post
Quality! I'm happy to see that METHOD 3 correctly states that a secure erase can be achieved easily without the need for 3rd party applications, or algorithms such as DoD or Gutmann etc.

Nicely done Sir!

Thank you sir, I appreciate the kind words!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jul 2011   #3
seavixen32

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-Bit
 
 

Thanks for a very useful addition to our arsenal of tools in the fight against the nasties in cyberland - my list of bookmarks gets ever bigger.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


02 Jul 2011   #4
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Thank you Andrew, I'm pleased it's finding a use.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jul 2011   #5
Arc

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit SP 1
 
 

Great work, Ted A perfect chapter of the textbook
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jul 2011   #6
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Thank you friend Archan!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jul 2011   #7
Joan Archer

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 32 bit/Windows 8.1 64bit
 
 

Another brilliant Tutorial Ted, well done, there's no better place than here to see a wealth of brilliantly written gems that help us all make the most of our systems.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jul 2011   #8
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Thank you for the kind words Miss Joan!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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