Expert Eye

HOW TO – Remove data from a HDD!

Following on from Iakovos’s amazingly helpful ‘How to’ guide on creating system images with Linux, I thought I’d have a shot at answering one of the most frequently asked questions (especially from our customers) – how do I remove data from my hard drive?

When any device capable of storing data is returned to us, we always take the steps necessary to purge any data from the drive. However, responsibility for your data remains with you and we always recommend that you remove ALL data from your hard drive before returning the product to us.

Before I start, I would like to echo the warning given by Iakovos, this is a fairly complex process so please do not attempt it unless you have a basic understanding of linux and the CLI.

There are, as with anything related to computers, several ways of purging a HDD of data (or at least rendering it unreadable). All these processes vary both in complexity and effectiveness. Your choice of operating system will obviously influence the software options which are available to you but the following are probably amongst the best (and simplest) available FREE OF CHARGE!

  • Eraser – Open Source application, developed for the Microsoft Windows environment
  • Shred – Part of the GNU core utilities suite, for Unix like operating systems (including Linux)

I’ll briefly run through the process for using each

Eraser (Windows)

  1. Download the Eraser application from http://www.heidi.ie/node/14 selecting the correct version for your OS.
  2. Run the installation file, installing in your chosen location.
  3. Once installation is complete, you should find an “Eraser icon” in your task tray – right click on it and select the top option “Open Eraser”.
  4. Open the file menu, select new task and then select the location that you would like to “erase”.
  5. Click OK and you should see the task that you’ve just created appear in the list on screen, Right click on it and select run.
  6. You should be prompted to confirm that you want to proceed. Once you’ve confirmed this, the process will be completed.

Shred (Linux)

  1. Fire up your CLI (xterm/konsole et al)
  2. Type shred /dev/hda (Where HDA is the drive you wish to erase data from)
  3. That’s it – for added security, we recommend carrying out multiple passes using this technique.

There are plenty of alternatives, both commercial and open source, and everybody will have their favoured technique but the above should give you some idea of the “simple” options available to you 🙂

Whilst the advice given above is generally sufficient for obscuring personal data, we would not recommend the use of these methods with commercially sensitive data or that which is of explicit value. Ebuyer (UK) Limited cannot be held responsible for the security and integrity of any data.

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