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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Computer type PC/Desktop System Manufacturer/Model Number Golden Mk. I.3 OS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (x64) CPU Intel i7 860 @ 2.80 GHz Motherboard Gigabyte P55A-UD3R Rev.1. Award BIOS F13 Memory 16GB Corsair Vengance DDR3 @ 661 MHz Dual Channel (9-9-9-24) Graphics Card EVGA NVidia GTX 560 1024MB Sound Card Realtek Integrated Monitor(s) Displays Dual Samsung SyncMaster 2494HS Screen Resolution 1920*1080 and 1920*1080
Keyboard Logitech G110 Mouse Logitech MX518 PSU Thermaltake ToughPower QFan 750W Case Thermaltake Element S VK60001W2Z Cooling Corsair H60 Water Cooling, 2*230mm and 2*80mm case fans Hard Drives 1*OCZ Vertex 2 60GB SSD;
2*Samsung F3 SpinPoint 1TB in RAID0;
3*Samsung F1 SpinPoint 1TB in RAID5;
1*Western Digital 500GB External USB 3.0
1*Seagate 500GB External USB 2.0 Internet Speed Not fast enough!!! Antivirus MSE and Malwarebytes Pro Browser Chrome Version 25 Other Info Laptop: ASUS X54C, Intel Core i3-2330M @ 2.0Ghz, 4GB RAM, Intel HD on-board graphics, Windows 7 Professional SP1 (x64), LinuxMint 14 (x64), PepperMint 3 (x86)
System Manufacturer/Model Number HP Pavilion Elite 495UK OS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-Bit CPU Intel Core i7 870 @ 2.93GHz Motherboard MSI 2A9C (CPU1) Memory 8Gb Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 664MHz Graphics Card nVidia GeForce GTX 460 1024MB dedicated RAM Sound Card Realtek HD Audio Monitor(s) Displays HP2310i Screen Resolution 1920 x 1080
Keyboard Logitech K750 solar-powered keyboard Mouse Logitech Wireless M180 mouse PSU 460W Case HP Elite Cooling Air cooled Hard Drives 1x1954GB Hitachi HDS22020ALA 330 (RAID), 1x1954GB Hitachi External for backup and storage Internet Speed 2Mb Other Info Pure Avanti Flow Internet Radio with iPod Dock, 64Gb iPod, HP USB Speakers, Sony MDR-V500 Headphones, Sony Vaio F-Series Laptop
Computer type PC/Desktop System Manufacturer/Model Number Self Assembled OS Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit SP 1 CPU Intel Core i3 2120 @ 3.30GHz Motherboard Gigabyte Technology Co., Ltd. H61M-DS2 DVI Memory Corsair 2GB x2 (Single-Channel DDR3 @ 665MHz) Graphics Card 2047MB GeForce GTS 450 (ZOTAC International) Sound Card Onboard (Realtek High Definition Audio) Monitor(s) Displays LG Flatron E2040T Screen Resolution 1600x900
Keyboard Logitech MK220 Mouse Logitech MK220 PSU uMAX 750 watt. Case iBall Cooling Air/ Fans Hard Drives Western Digital 1 TB
Seagate 500 GB Internet Speed BSNL Broadband Antivirus Microsoft Security Essentials Browser Waterfox Other Info Dell Studio 15" Laptop