How to completely erase a hard drive – Fully wipe out a computer hard drive

%image_alt%I see this common mistake occur over and over.  Customers will recycle their computers without properly erasing the hard drive.  You may have done this also where you recycle your computer because it doesn’t work any longer.  But, the serious IT issue is that your hard drive may still be working.  If that’s the case, all somebody has to do is install the hard drive into a computer or access it another way to view your private files and pictures.

Even if your computer cannot turn on any more, there’s a good chance the hard drive is okay.  In that case, you’ll still want to properly erase your hard drive if you decide not to fix your computer.

Let’s first discuss the common no-no’s that most people think are sufficient to erase files:

  • Trash the files by sending them to the recycle bin.
  • Delete the user profile.
  • Just install Windows or install Mac OS over the current one.

A data recovery software may easily recover files from the above three actions.  Yes, at least some effort will go into recovering the files, but it may still be done which means your files are not safe.  So, you need to find a better IT solution to erase your hard drive.

The way to completely erase your hard drive is by using a data erasure utility.  This is a software that not only formats your hard drive, but writes 1’s and 0’s or fake data over and over on top of your drive.  This repetitive writing-over on the hard drive makes it impossible to recover files from the drive.  One solid erasure software is Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) which may be downloaded for free.  Just download the file to a blank CD and boot your computer to it.  Pretty simple and doesn’t require any IT tech skills.

Another way, albeit a caveman-like fashion, is to grab a hammer and pound away at your hard drive.  You have to make sure to hammer away deep enough so you see glass-like substances fly out of the drive.  These are the platters where the actual files are stored.  When the platters are in pieces, a lab recovery service cannot even restore these files.  Also, this process is a great stress-reliever, but make sure to guard your eyes from the shattered pieces.


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