- 1 How to Wipe a Drive on Windows 10 or Windows 11
- 2 What You Need to Know
- 3 Option 1: Wipe Any Entire Drive
- 4 Option 2: Wipe Only Free Space
- 5 Option 3: Wipe Your Windows System Drive
- 6 How to wipe a hard drive in Windows 10 and macOS
- 7 How to wipe a drive in Windows 10
- 8 How to wipe your main Windows 10 drive
- 9 How to wipe a drive in macOS 10.14 Mojave
- 10 3 Methods to Completely Wipe Hard Drive in Windows 10/8/7/XP
- 11 Overview on wiping a hard drive
- 12 What to do before wiping a hard drive?
- 13 Method1: Completely wipe computer by resetting your PC
- 14 Method2: Wipe hard drive using free hard drive eraser software
- 15 Method3: Clean PC hard drive by physically destroying it
- 16 Conclusion
- 17 How to Wipe a Hard Drive
- 18 How to Wipe a Computer Hard Drive
- 19 A Simple Hard Drive Wipe Alternative
- 20 Is Shredding Files What You’re Really After?
- 21 How to Securely Wipe a Hard Drive – Windows 8.1 & 10
- 22 Why wipe your hard drive?
- 23 Migrate existing data
- 24 Wiping your hard drive
- 25 How to Completely Wipe a Hard Drive on Windows
- 26 Why Do You Need to Erase Your Hard Drive?
- 27 The Easy Way to Wipe a Hard Disk Drive in Windows 10
- 28 How to Totally Wipe a Hard Drive With DBAN
- 29 What Can You Do With a Wiped Hard Drive?
- 30 Safely Wipe a Windows Computer With DBAN
- 31 How to Wipe a Windows PC SSD or Hard Drive
- 32 How to Completely Wipe a PC
- 33 How to Erase Your Windows Drive
- 34 Secure Erase Using Third-party Tools
- 35 The Nuclear Option
How to Wipe a Drive on Windows 10 or Windows 11
Photograph courtesy of Daniel Krason/Shutterstock.com Windows includes built-in capabilities that allow you to safely erase the contents of a hard disk by writing zeros to it. This assures that erased files on the disk can’t be retrieved if they are accidentally removed. Learn how to erase an internal hard disk or an external USB drive, regardless of whether you desire to do so.
What You Need to Know
In many cases, it is feasible to recover erased files from a hard disk. Whether or whether this is feasible is dependent on a variety of circumstances. The recovery of lost data is simple if the drive is a classic magnetic drive with a spinning platter, because deleted files are simply “marked” as deleted and will be overwritten in the future, making data recovery simple. As a result, contemporary solid-state drives should be configured to employ TRIM by default, guaranteeing that deleted files are removed from the system as soon as they are erased.
It is possible to “wipe” a drive in order to avoid this from occuring.
Taking this step is especially critical when selling or otherwise disposing of a computer, hard drive, or USB stick that may have included sensitive personal information about you or your family.
If an attacker is unable to obtain your encryption key, they will not be able to retrieve deleted items from a drive—in fact, they will not even be able to access files that have not yet been deleted by you.
Option 1: Wipe Any Entire Drive
All that is required to completely erase the contents of any drive is to do a full format of the drive. Before you proceed, keep in mind that doing so will totally wipe out all of the information on the hard drive. Additionally, you will be unable to execute a full format of your Windows system disk while Windows is operating from it. This approach is great for internal drives that do not have your operating system loaded, USB flash drives, and other external storage devices, as well as any full partitions that you wish to delete completely.
Select “Format” from the context menu by right-clicking on it.
This will guarantee that Windows 10 or Windows 11 does a full format rather than a partial format.
You can modify any additional formatting settings you like in this section; just make sure “Quick Format” isn’t ticked.
Depending on the size and speed of the disk, the procedure may take a long period of time. The format operation will completely wipe out everything on the disk, so proceed with caution. Before starting, make a backup of any vital files you may have.
Option 2: Wipe Only Free Space
For mechanical hard drives and external storage devices, once you’ve erased certain files, you might wish to wipe only the vacant space on the disk, overwriting it with zeros. As a result, those accidentally lost data will not be able to be retrieved without erasing the entire disk. This is possible with Windows 10 and Windows 11, but you’ll have to use the command line to accomplish it. It is possible to delete a drive’s vacant space by using thecyphercommand integrated with Windows, which will overwrite it with information.
To be on the safe side, only one pass should be necessary.
You may access these options by right-clicking the Start button or pressing Windows+X and selecting “Windows PowerShell (Admin)”, “Command Prompt (Admin),” or “Windows Terminal” from the drop-down menu.
Alternatively, you may use the following command, substituting X for the drive letter of the disk for which you wish to erase empty space: cipher /w:X: cipher You may execute the following commands on your D: drive, for example, if you wish to clear off any spare space on that disk: cipher /w:D: cipher /w:D: The progress of the command will be displayed at the command line.
Option 3: Wipe Your Windows System Drive
If you wish to completely erase your Windows operating system disk, there is a simple technique to accomplish this. Despite the fact that it is not activated by default, this feature is integrated within the Reset This PC feature on Windows 10 and Windows 11. If you want to erase your system disk while Windows is restoring itself to factory default settings (in other words, reinstalling Windows), you may tell it to do so. When you sell your computer or give it to someone else, you should make use of this feature to keep your sensitive information safe.
- Under Reset This PC, select “Get Started” from the drop-down menu.
- Under Recovery Options, select “Reset PC” from the drop-down menu.
- Choose either “Local Reinstall” or “Cloud Download” from the drop-down menu; either will work for this operation.
- It is beneficial to use the ” Cloud Download ” feature if your local Windows operating system files are damaged and the Reset This PC process will not function properly otherwise.
- Select “Change Settings” from the drop-down menu under Additional Settings.
- This choice will cause Windows to “clean the disk,” making it considerably more difficult (theoretically, practically impossible) to restore your files once they have been deleted.
- You may now click “Confirm” to proceed with the process of resetting your Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC and wiping your hard drive while doing so.
- Make a backup of anything that is necessary before you begin.
How to wipe a hard drive in Windows 10 and macOS
Future Publishing is responsible for the image. (Photo courtesy of Future Publishing) There are several reasons to wipe a hard disk, solid state drive, or external drive. You may just wish to clear up space on the drive, configure it to function with a new file system, or remove any trace of data on the drive so that you can sell it with confidence that no one will be able to access your information once the sale has taken place. Fortunately, no matter what sort hard drive you wish to wipe, the procedure is simple and quick.
We’ll also make certain that you understand what to do on both Windows 10 and Mac OS X.
How to wipe a drive in Windows 10
To erase (or format) a drive in Windows 10, you’ll need to follow a set of actions that differ depending on whether the drive is merely being used for storage or is being used to host your active Windows installation. This is the first step, and then we’ll describe how to wipe the disk that has Windows installed on it after that. Right in the “This PC” box, you’ll see a button that allows you to format a disk in seconds. Image courtesy of TechRadar (Image credit: TechRadar) The first step is to identify your target audience.
- This will open a new window that displays a few of your computer’s folders as well as the disks that are linked to the machine in question.
- The formatting options will become available.
- Image courtesy of TechRadar (Image credit: TechRadar) Step three: Select your format options and hit the Start button to completely erase the drive.
- If you want to be certain that all of the data on the drive has been entirely deleted, do not choose the “Quick Format” selection.
- Image courtesy of TechRadar (Image credit: TechRadar) An alternative way is as follows: You may also format a disk by using Disk Management (click Windows Key + X and then pick “Disk Management” from the drop-down menu).
Listed below are your drives and the partitions they contain. Formatting a disk or partition is as simple as right-clicking on the drive or partition and selecting “Format.” It should be noted once more that a rapid format is not as secure as a standard format.
How to wipe your main Windows 10 drive
If the drive you wish to erase is the one on which your Windows 10 operating system is installed, you will not be able to format it using the techniques outlined above for formatting. As a result, you’ll need to do a system reset instead (not to be confused with restarting your computer). Image courtesy of TechRadar (Image credit: TechRadar) The first step is to identify your target audience. In the Windows search bar, type “Reset this PC” and press Enter to begin the process. This will lead you to a menu where you may reset and restore your computer’s settings.
Select “Remove everything” from the drop-down menu in the new window.
It has the capability of wiping out any additional drives that are connected to your computer.
How to wipe a drive in macOS 10.14 Mojave
When it comes to wiping a drive on macOS, the procedure is no more difficult than in Windows, however it will alter significantly depending on the type of disk you intend to wipe. To begin, you’ll need to make use of the Disk Utility program. In order to delete your Mac’s main drive, you’ll first need to launch macOS Recovery by restarting the Mac and holding Command + R as it powers up, just before the Apple logo shows, and then selecting Disk Utility from the macOS Utilities box that displays.
- The first step is to identify your target audience.
- This will create a new window that displays the storage media available on your Mac.
- Choosing the drive or volume to wipe is the second step.
- Choose a new name for the drive and a new format for it.
- Depending on whether the drive is a hard disk or a solid state drive, the options may be different.
- SSDs do not have this option accessible to them.
- Step three: To begin the process of erasing the drive, click Erase at the bottom of the pop-up window.
- These are the greatest hard drives you can get for your hard-earned money
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3 Methods to Completely Wipe Hard Drive in Windows 10/8/7/XP
The following is a table of contents:
Overview on wiping a hard drive
For the majority of users, selling or giving away a computer or hard drive is standard practice when they wish to get rid of an old equipment or upgrade to a new one. It is possible that you have previously formatted or erased files from your hard drive in order to eliminate sensitive personal data and prevent becoming a victim of identity theft. Although the reality remains that wiping off a hard drive is more difficult than just removing data or formatting a hard drive. Because deleted files may readily be retrieved by recovery software, simply deleting files with Shift + Delete or emptying the Recycle Bin does not ensure that data is completely erased from your computer.
- In spite of the fact that the operating system cannot recognize deleted or formatted data and the disk seems to be empty, typical users may simply recover lost data with the aid of hard drive recovery software.
- I’m planning on selling it, but I want to make sure that all of my personal information is properly deleted beforehand.
- My whole hard drive has been backed up to an external hard drive, and I’m hoping that one of you can walk me through the process of cleaning up the computer from top to bottom.
- Thank you very much!” What is the difference between deleting and formatting and erasing a hard drive?
- If you answered yes, you should take another look at this situation.
- An electronic hard drive is a type of data storage device that is used to store digital information.
- When reading or writing data, a hard disk converts the magnetic property of the platter surface to a value of 1 or 0.
For example, when a system saves data such as images, music, and other files to a hard drive, rows of zeros and ones are written on the drive’s platters.
This means that restoring deleted filescan be done before the data in those files is overwritten or otherwise destroyed.
Formatting operates in a similar manner, with the exception that it does not really erase data.
Recovery software is also capable of recovering deleted files on a formatted hard drive.
Because deletion and formatting do not operate on a permanently clean hard drive, you might be wondering how disk wiping works.
As previously stated, in order to totally wipe the disk, we must delete the binary data, which entails overwriting the zeros and ones with new data, as shown above.
The use of professional disk eraser software can prevent data recovery by filling the disk with zeros or random information in each sector, guaranteeing that the drive is completely erased.
What to do before wiping a hard drive?
Performing some preliminary work before to wiping a computer’s hard drive can ensure that the process is finished without interruption or the occurrence of unexpected problems during the wiping process.
- Installing hard disk erase software is as simple as downloading it and installing it. Using a disk wipe tool is required if you intend to clear your hard drive on your own time. You should choose one tool that is simple to use and effective for the job at hand. Ensure that the software you intend to use on the computer can operate on a bootable disk before proceeding. Check to see that the battery is fully charged. Make sure the battery is fully charged or that the laptop is connected to power before you begin wiping the hard drive. If the power goes off while the disk is being cleared, it might mean doom for the drive. Make a copy of your data on a separate hard drive. When you wipe your computer, everything on it will be gone, so you should make a backup of any information you wish to save on another hard drive before you erase your computer completely. You may either clone your hard drive or just copy and paste files onto that disk. Remember to keep track of your software’s serial numbers. Those software you purchased will be lost if you wipe your computer, and you will need to reinstall them on a fresh hard drive after doing so. Remember to write down the serial number of each software so that you may reactivate them following reinstallation. Drivers should be downloaded. The download of essential drivers for the new system may be required if you want to reinstall the operating system after the hard drive has been entirely wiped clean. Alternatively, you may visit the device’s official web site and download the most recent drivers
- Create a bootable disk on your computer. If you’re erasing the main hard drive of your computer, you’ll have to do it without starting the operating system, such as by using WinPE to do it. Then you’ll need a bootable USB device or CD to get you started.
Once everything is set, you may begin deleting the hard drive of your computer or any external devices. How to erase a hard drive, an external disk, an SD card or a flash drive will be covered in greater detail in the remaining sections of this guide.
Method1: Completely wipe computer by resetting your PC
If you use the reset feature in Windows 8.1 or 10, you may completely erase your computer’s hard drive. This tool is available when reinstalling the operating system and allows you to delete everything on the hard drive. This tutorial uses the operating system Windows 10 to demonstrate how to fully erase a machine. If your computer is running an earlier version of Windows, you can try the procedures in Method 2 to completely wipe the hard disk on your computer. The following are the methods to completely erase a hard disk in Windows 10: Step 1.
- The ” UpdateSecurity ” option may be found in the Windows Settings pane.
- Step 3.Choose the “Remove everything” radio button.
- Step 4.When prompted whether or not to clean the drives, choose ” Remove files and clean the drive ” from the drop-down menu.
- Step 5.To finish the process, click on the ” Next ” and ” Reset ” buttons on the following steps.
Method2: Wipe hard drive using free hard drive eraser software
The most secure method of permanently erasing data is to overwrite it with zeros or random data and then refill the hard drive with zeros or random data. This ensures that no data can be recovered using disk recovery software. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? Cleansing your hard drive is not a difficult task nowadays, and disk wipe software makes it simple and secure to remove your data from your computer’s disk. DiskGenius Free Edition is a free hard disk erase program that may be downloaded.
With this hard disk eraser, you may completely wipe out all of the data on your hard drive by filling the disk sector by sector, rendering all files unrecoverable.
The following are the characteristics of the disk cleaning function:
- Delete all information from a hard disk or partition in its entirety. Remove some existing files from the system permanently so that they cannot be retrieved
- Safely erase erased data without impacting the integrity of existing data
- Supports the creation of a bootable USB drive, which allows you to utilize the program in the event that your computer fails to boot. Supports all popular file systems, including NTFS, FAT32, FAT16, FAT12, exFAT, Ext2, Ext3, and Ext4, among others. It is compatible with a wide range of storage media, including hard drives, external hard drives, solid state drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, virtual disks, and so on. There is a portable version available in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors.
Obtainable for Free The following content introduces how to erase data in various situations, and you can choose which method to use depending on your specific needs. For example, if you want to wipe an SD card or other removable devices, Case 1 is the appropriate solution; if you want to wipe a computer, Case 2 is the appropriate solution; and so on. Case1: Erase a secondary hard disk, an external hard drive, an SD card, or a USB flash drive in Windows 10/8/7 without causing damage. Through the use of the free disk erase With DiskGenius Free Edition, you may fully erase hard disks and portable devices by rewriting sectors to the number 00 or a random sequence of letters and numbers.
- To erase your hard disk or USB drives in Windows 10/8/7, follow the methods outlined below.
- When you install and run DiskGenius from your PC, you will be able to view all of your local disks and portable devices listed on the main screen.
- Step 4.Select the things that will be used to fill disk sectors and click theErasebutton on the popped-up box that appears.
- Random Data is the default option.
- Step 5.When DiskGenius requests confirmation for the action, click the Erasebutton to proceed.
- Step 6.The disk eraser begins erasing data from the selected drive, and the procedure may take a long time if the disk has a considerable amount of storage space.
- In this example, you will learn how to erase the primary hard disk of a computer, which is where Windows is installed.
This circumstance allows us to wipe the hard disk using a Pre-OS environment, such as Windows PE.
Installing your USB flash drive and selecting “Create WinPE bootable USB drive of DiskGenius” from the Tools menu will result in a bootable WinPE USB stick being created.
Open the free disk wiping software DiskGenius from your Windows PC to get started.
Step 3.It will take approximately two minutes to generate booting information for Windows PE; please be patient while this process is completed.
When you press the ” OK ” button, the computer restarts.
Choose the system hard disk on which Windows is installed on the computer and then choose the ” Erase Sectors ” option from the Toolsmenu, which can be found under the Toolsmenu.
Note: Once the operation is complete, the machine will not be able to boot into the operating system since the system partition has been deleted.
Delete a single file or folder from your hard disk in Case3.
Due to the fact that deleting files by emptying the Recycle Bin does not completely erase data, we must do an additional action in order to make files unrecoverable.
Consider the following steps for erasing files and directories systematically: Step 1.Re-launch DiskGenius and search for the files you wish to permanently remove on your hard drive.
To permanently delete a file, click the ” Permanently Delete ” button on the popped-up window.
It overwrites data by default by filling it with zeros, however this may be changed to generate random data as well.
It is possible to continue deleting other data from your computer after you have erased specified files.
By erasing vacant space on a hard drive, you can erase any lost files without affecting any current information on the device.
For example, if you’ve formatted your hard drive and reinstalled your operating system, what you need to do next is erase all disk space except system; or if you’ve deleted sensitive files with Shift + Delete and want to make sure they’re no longer recoverable without affecting existing data, what you need to do next is erase all disk space except system.
Click on the “OK” button after selecting the partition / disk for which you wish to remove spare space in Step 2.
Step 3.Select the characters that will be overwritten on the disk and click the ” Erase ” button. Step 4.The application begins cleaning up empty disk space, which might take a long time if the amount of available space is considerable.
Method3: Clean PC hard drive by physically destroying it
Physically destroying a hard disk is another option for ensuring that data is permanently lost and unrecoverable. If you are not planning on reusing or recycling your hard drive, you may use this technique to clear the data on your hard drive. Use a screwdriver to remove all of the screws from the hard drive casing in step one. It will then be possible to remove the enclosure as well as the main circuit board. Step 2.Remove the platters and heads from the hard drive enclosure and smash the platters with a hammer to ensure they are properly aligned.
Step 3: Pack up all of the components and toss them in the trash.
A hard drive, SD card, or detachable disk are all discussed in this article along with three ways for wiping them, all of which are designed to ensure sensitive data may be safely and fully removed. Files deleted via these techniques are no longer recoverable; thus, please ensure that any essential files have been backed up to an alternate storage medium before deleting any storage media. If you found this article valuable, please spread the word so that more people may benefit from it. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any suggestions for improvements or queries concerning this issue.
How to Wipe a Hard Drive
- Make a copy of anything you intend to keep. Download and install a free data destruction application on your computer, then erase the disk according to the directions. There are various methods for wiping a hard drive, but data destruction software is the most straightforward and allows the hard drive to be re-purposed.
In most cases, when you format a hard drive or erase a partition, you’re merely destroying the file system, which makes the data inaccessible or no longer actively indexed, but it’s not completely gone. Often, the information may be recovered using a file recovery tool or sophisticated gear. Wiping the hard disk with special software is required if you want to be certain that your confidential information is permanently deleted from your computer. Wiping a hard disk should be the same regardless of the operating system you are using, as long as you are using a specific sort of bootable program (recommended below).
How to Wipe a Computer Hard Drive
Depending on the size of the drive and the technique you pick, this procedure might take anything from a few minutes to many hours.
- Make a copy of everything you wish to save, including images, software product keys, and so on. When the hard drive wipe is complete, there will be no way to recover any data that was previously stored on the disk. Ensure that anything you wish to save is backed up
- In certain cases, multiple virtual drives can share space on a single actual hard disk. The Disk Managementtool in Windows allows you to see the drives (volumes) that are currently installed on a hard drive. Download a data deletion application that is completely free. It is not necessary to use any of the first six programs on that list if you want to wipe a hard drive from outside of Windows, but they are all excellent because they have the capability of wiping a hard drive from outside of Windows, which is required if you want to wipe the drive on which Windows is installed. DBAN, our first choice on the list, is a favorite of ours. It’s probably the most extensively used hard disk cleaning tool (although please be aware that it does not erase solid-state drives, which is important to know). If you’re apprehensive about hard drive wiping or would need a more extensive overview, check out ourHow to Wipe a Hard Drive With DBANtutorial instead. Actually, there are various methods for totally erasing a hard drive, but employing data destruction software is the quickest and most reliable, while still allowing the hard drive to be used again. Fill out whatever forms are required in order to install the software or, in the event of a bootableprogram such as DBAN, obtain theISO image on CD/DVD disc, USB device such as a flash drive: It is customary to burn the ISO image on a disc and then boot from the disc to execute the program when using a CD or DVD to accomplish this task. It is customary for this process to begin by burning the ISO image to a flash drive or other USB drive and then booting from that USB drive in order to get things started
- However, this is not always the case. Remove all data from your hard disk using the program’s instructions. The majority of data removal solutions provide a variety of options. If you’re interested in learning more about the effectiveness of the wipe or the procedures used to perform it, visit Data Sanitization Methods. Connect your laptop to a power source or check that the battery is completely charged. This is dependent on the size of the hard disk and the speed of the computer
- The total time required to complete the HDD wipe is determined by these factors. When it’s all said and done, you may be assured that whatever information was stored on the disk has been permanently erased.
The disk is now ready for you to install Windows on, create a new partition, sell or give away the hard drive or computer, discard or dispose of it, recover your backed-up contents, or do anything else you need.
A Simple Hard Drive Wipe Alternative
Beginning with Windows Vista, the format process was modified such that just a single write-zero pass was performed to each standard (non-quick) format instead of many passes. In other words, when you format your hard drive, you are doing a very basic hard drive wipe. If a single write-zero pass suffices for you, you can consider your disk to have been erased after a standard format. You may also follow the hard disk wipe steps provided above if you want something even more safe. This is a one-time wipe of only the partition that is being formatted.
It is necessary to format all of the other drives on a physical hard drive if you wish to consider the entire physical disk to be “wiped.” If you have more than one partition on a physical hard drive, you will need to format those additional drives as well.
Is Shredding Files What You’re Really After?
In the event that all you truly want to do is make certain that files you regularly remove are permanently deleted and cannot be recovered with special tools, a data-wiping application will suffice. If you’re looking for software that “destroys” individual files on an as-needed basis, check out our selection of free file shredder software tools. The term “free space wipe” refers to the process of wiping off all of the “empty” space on your hard disk. Many of those shredder apps also do a free space wipe.
Are you still perplexed?
- Is it possible to clean a hard disk without removing Windows? While it is not possible to completely wipe the hard disk without erasing the operating system, resetting Windows to its factory default settings would delete any personal files and apps stored on the computer. What is the best way to erase an external hard drive? Connect the external drive to your computer and then openFile ExplorerThis PC and choose the external drive from the drop-down menu. Format the file by right-clicking and selecting Format, then selecting a file system and following the instructions
- How can I reinstall Windows on a hard disk that has been completely erased? In order to reinstall Windows, first start the computer from a Windows DVD or USB drive with the Windows ISO file. Then follow the installation procedure prompts. How do I reinstall macOS on a Mac hard disk that has been completely wiped? Reinstalling Mac OS X After wiping the disk, launch the macOS Utilities program and selectInstall macOS from the drop-down menu
- Then follow the on-screen instructions.
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How to Securely Wipe a Hard Drive – Windows 8.1 & 10
In order to completely erase the data on your hard drive, for example, in order to sell or recycle it, you must follow these steps.
Why wipe your hard drive?
When you wipe your hard disk, all of the data on the drive is totally erased. When data is deleted or a hard disk is reformatted, enough information is left behind to allow the data to be recovered with particular tools. If you have partitioned your hard disk, make sure to delete the data from each of the partitions before continuing.
Migrate existing data
To begin, copy the information you wish to save to another drive. This method will completely wipe up all of your data, rendering it unrecoverable. You can copy your files to a cloud account, like as iCloud or OneDrive ®, if you have one. If you don’t have access to a cloud storage account, an external hard drive might be quite useful. The transfer of data from one storage device to another can be done while your hard disk is being cleaned in preparation for a replacement. If you’re going to be utilizing a solid state drive, you’ll also want to make a backup of your old data and transfer it to your new SSD before starting.
Wiping your hard drive
Operating systems from Microsoft, including Windows 8.1 and 10. In Windows 8.1 or 10, erasing your hard drive is a straightforward procedure.
- Settings (the gear symbol on the Start menu) should be selected. Select Updatesecurity, then Recover
- Then click Finish. Remove everything, then Remove files and clear the disk from the drop-down menu. Then select Next, Reset, and Continue from the drop-down menu.
Microsoft Windows versions prior to 8.1 It is necessary to use third-party software to erase your hard drive if you are running Windows 8 or earlier. Make certain that the software you purchase complies with the US Department of Defense 5220.22-M criteria for cleaning a hard disk. Depending on how much data you have on your hard disk, using this type of program might take several hours or perhaps longer to complete. You should wipe all of the data off of your hard drive if your hard drive is going to be out of your hands, such as if you’re selling or recycling it.
How to Completely Wipe a Hard Drive on Windows
Data on your hard disk has accumulated over time and you wish to get rid of it. Perhaps the computer is about to be sold or gifted to a charitable organization, or perhaps you simply want to make certain that all data on the hard drive has been completely deleted before you use it yourself.
Regardless of the situation, you may erase the disk in Windows using either native or third-party software.
Why Do You Need to Erase Your Hard Drive?
It is possible that you will want to fully delete your hard disk drive for a variety of reasons. If you’re going to share your data on the drive, you might be concerned about others seeing what you’ve stored on it.
- Sell the hard drive that you have. Give it to someone else
- Donate the computer to a charitable organization, a church, or a school.
You may, on the other hand, have no intention of parting with the gadget. It may be essential to wipe the disk in order to:
- Remove a virus or ransomware from your computer
- Protect sensitive personal information by overwriting it. Use a second-hand disk drive that has not been erased by the previous owner to begin using it
You can have your own set of reasons for deleting everything from your computer’s hard drive. Microsoft Windows users have two alternatives in each given situation.
- Native Windows 10 utilities
- Third-party tools such as Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN)
- And custom-built tools.
Let’s take each of the options one by one.
The Easy Way to Wipe a Hard Disk Drive in Windows 10
Despite the fact that several excellent third-party tools are accessible, you may be in a bit of a hurry. As a result, going through the hassle of searching for, downloading, and installing software isn’t something you want to do. Fortunately, you don’t have to be concerned. When you want to wipe your hard drive, you may use the dedicated command in Windows 10. Be sure to first identify the right drive letter for the disk that you intend to wipe before continuing any further. Make a note of the drive letter since you’ll be able to find it in Windows Explorer.
To do this, you’ll need to work in the Windows PowerShell environment, which is a command-line application that allows you to type in text-based instructions into.
/P is the format command.
Using the above example, if your drive letter was X and you needed five passes of formatting, you would do the following:
- Right-click Start, then choose Windows PowerShell (Administrator)
- EnterFormat X: /P:5
- And press Enter.
That is all there is to it. Wait for the device to be completely erased before reusing it as needed.
Wiping a Hard Drive in Windows 7 and Windows 8
When working with Windows 7 or Windows 8, do you need to clean a hard disk drive? You’ve come to the right place! Instructions for Windows 10 will work with older versions of Windows, all the way back to and including Vista, using the same format.
How to Totally Wipe a Hard Drive With DBAN
What should you do if you wish to completely erase the data on your C: drive? This is normally the disk drive on which Windows is installed, and it is not possible to erase it using the formatting tool included with Windows. There are a variety of third-party programs available, but Darik’s Boot and Nuke is arguably the finest (DBAN). It will operate in your computer’s memory, similar to how a recovery disk or a Linux live disk would work. DBAN is a program that was created expressly for the goal of erasing data in mass.
It is unnecessary to purchase the expensive version (unless you are a corporation or organization), as the free DBAN will quickly and easily destroy your hard drive.
This should cover any and all hard disk drives on the market.
But what exactly does this imply? As a result, whether you need to wipe a hard drive within your PC tower or laptop, DBAN is up to the challenge. Are you prepared to take a step back? To completely erase your hard disk drive, follow these five steps.
1. Identify Your Hard Drive
To prevent unintentional deletion, make sure you can identify your hard disk drive (HDD) to begin with. The quickest and most straightforward method is to launch Windows Explorer and look for the C: disk. As long as the device is labeled with anything like OS C: or Windows C:, you’re at the correct location. But if the C: drive is one of several on a single physical disk, and they are all partitions on the same physical disk, difficulties might develop. This has the potential to result in data being accidentally overwritten on all partitions, not just the C: disk.
Using this method, you will be able to identify the drive in DBAN.
2. Download and Burn DBAN to Disc
DBAN, which is available in ISO format, must first be downloaded to your computer before being copied to an optical disc.
- DBAN may be obtained through Sourceforge. Insert a blank disc into the optical read/write drive on your computer. Navigate to the ISO file that was downloaded
- Right-click dban-2.3.0 i586.iso and chooseBurn disc image from the context menu. Work your way through the picture burning wizard and then sit back and wait for the disc to be generated.
Remember to label the disk after you’re finished using it. You might wish to use it again in the future; on the other hand, you wouldn’t want to mistakenly load it up.
3. Back Up Valuable Data
To ensure that the data on your Windows computer is completely worthless before wiping it, create a backup of your computer’s hard drive first. If there is anything you want to save, you should make a copy of it as soon as possible. If you mistakenly destroy data that you wish to save, data recovery methods will be ineffective. After utilizing DBAN, you will be unable to retrieve any of your data.
4. Boot Into DBAN
To make advantage of DBAN, follow these steps:
- Activate the disc by inserting it into the drive. Restart your computer
- Selecting the option to boot from a CD or DVD drive is recommended.
This, on the other hand, may be easier said than done. Normally, your computer will start up from the hard disk as it does every time. It may be necessary to rearrange the boot devices in the computer’s BIOS. If you prefer, you may press a key (usually DEL or F12 – consult your computer instructions for specifics) as soon as the machine begins to bring up the boot selection page. DBAN will commence after the correct boot device has been selected, and you will be able to begin removing hard disk devices.
5. Wipe Your Hard Drive With Darik’s Boot and Nuke
On the DBAN screen, you can choose from a number of different options:
- A list of DBAN commands may be found by pressing F3, and troubleshooting can be found by pressing F4. To use DBAN in interactive mode, use the Enter key. Enter the phraseautonuke to have DBAN immediately erase every disk on your computer
- Otherwise, click here.
You’re probably not going to want to go with the last choice. To erase your disk drive, instead, utilize the guided mode, which is as follows:
- To begin guided mode, press the Enter key. Make a selection of the device you desire to clean by using the arrow keys. To flag the drive with the flag, press and hold the Space key. When you’re ready, press F10 to start the wiping procedure.
There are a few different alternatives available. You can make modifications to the wipe procedure by using the shortcut keys indicated at the bottom of the screen.
- It is possible to alter the random number generator is employed in erasing your data by using P
- Rchanges the number of passes performed on each disk sector by using R. This increases the number of default passes for each wipe technique that is offered. By specifying a value of 3, for example, you can increase the number of passes in the default DoD Short to nine. Similarly, the M command provides you with a choice of six erasure methods, including DoD 5220.22-M and Gutmann Wipe
- And the R command allows you to change the number of passes in the default DoD Short to nine. Another option is to enable the verification mode (V), which would prolong the wipe procedure.
The duration of the wipe procedure is shown by a timer in the top-right pane of the DBAN application. It should take some time until you get to a new screen, with the word “pass” underlined in green next to the disk drive’s name. This drive is yours to keep and use as you like. If the word “fail” shows instead, repeat the process of utilizing DBAN. If this occurs on a regular basis, physical destruction may be considered (see below).
What Can You Do With a Wiped Hard Drive?
Once your hard disk drive has been properly erased, it may be sold or reused without fear of being compromised. You could, for example, sell it on eBay to generate some fast dollars, or you might use it to build a computer for a relative who needs a computer. The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that retrieving the information is very difficult. You can do everything you want with the disk without worrying about the data being exposed.
Do you want to be doubly certain? Make some physical devastation to the gadget, such as boring holes through the drive areas, to make it less effective. Alternatively, you may open the disk and hammer the platters, which are the magnetic disks that contain your data.
Safely Wipe a Windows Computer With DBAN
While various programs (including some built-in choices) may be used to delete data from your Windows hard disk, using DBAN or a comparable utility is the safest approach. DBAN is straightforward to use — perhaps even too straightforward. Indeed, if you do not exercise sufficient caution and care, you may unintentionally erase the wrong hard drive. To use DBAN effectively, you must do the following:
- Create an ISO file and burn it on a DVD
- Determine the location of your hard disk
- Start DBAN by using the F1 key. Wipe the hard disk on your Windows computer.
Once this is completed, the drive can either be reused or properly disposed away. If the drive is experiencing poor performance prior to wiping it, it may be preferable to recycle your old hard drive rather than wiping it. 9 Creative Ways to Repurpose Your Old Hard Drive Looking for something to do with your old hard drives? Look no further. Don’t toss them in the trash! This device may be used as a DIY external hard drive, among many other things. Read on to learn more about the author. Christian Cawley is a writer and poet (1562 Articles Published) Deputy Editor for Security, Linux, DIY, programming, and Tech Explained, as well as producer of the Really Useful Podcast.
Christian, a contributor to Linux Format magazine, is a Raspberry Pi tinkerer, a Lego enthusiast, and a vintage gaming enthusiast.
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How to Wipe a Windows PC SSD or Hard Drive
Are you clinging to an outdated computer because you don’t know how to completely purge the hard disk of all of your personal information and data? Are you concerned that data may still be lingering in the recycle bin even after you’ve emptied it? (Yes, there is such a thing.) Alternatively, you could always use a baseball bat to smash the object in the face. Physical destruction is, without a doubt, a viable option (more on that later). However, there are more simpler and more dependable, though less pleasant, methods of ensuring that your Windows PC is as clean as the day it was sent from the manufacturer.
First Things First: Back Up
Prepare your data for backup using a 3-2-1 backup method, in which you retain three copies of your data on two types of media, with one copy stored off-site, before breaking out the Louisville Slugger (or following our easy instructions below). The first copy is the one that is stored on your computer. Alternatively, an external hard drive or other external media can be used to store your second copy. Furthermore, a third duplicate should be stored in an off-site location, such as the cloud. If you haven’t yet created an off-site backup of your data, now is an excellent moment to start.
Once you’ve backed up your data, you’ll be ready to erase the hard disk on your computer’s internal hard drive.
How to Completely Wipe a PC
To begin, you must determine if your Windows computer is equipped with a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid state drive (SSD) (SSD). However, you can quickly check to see if your computer has an SSD if it was purchased within the previous few years by using the following procedure:
- Go to the Settings menu. In the search bar, type “defragmentation”
- Select “Defragment and Optimize Your Drives” from the drop-down menu. Ensure that your drive’s media type is correct.
How to Erase Your Windows Drive
Having determined what type of disk you have, there are two alternatives for erasing data from your computer:
- When it comes to erasing a computer, it’s usually as simple as reformatting the drive and reinstalling Windows with the Reset option activated. Whether you’re simply discarding, giving, or selling your computer, the Reset option makes it unacceptably tough for someone to retrieve your data, especially if it’s protected with encryption. This is simple to accomplish in Windows versions 8, 8.1, 10, and 11 for either a hard drive or a solid-state drive. Using Third-Party Tools to Perform a Secure Erase: A second option is available if Reset does not provide you with total confidence that your data can’t be restored and you are using a PC that runs Windows 7 or earlier. It is possible to safely delete your drive using a variety of third-party programs, which we will discuss further below. These varies depending on whether you have a hard drive or a solid-state drive.
To reset your computer, follow the steps below, which are specific to different versions of Windows:
How to Wipe a Windows 10 and 11 Hard Drive
- Go to Settings System (UpdateSecurity in Windows 10) Recovery and follow the instructions. Click on “Reset this PC” under the “Reset this PC” heading. (In Windows 10, select “Get Started” from the Start menu.) Select “Remove everything” from the drop-down menu. You may utilize “Keep my files” to give your computer a thorough cleaning in order to boost performance if you are not planning to dispose of your computer. You will be given the option of reinstalling Windows using either the “Cloud download” or the “Local reinstall.” For those of you who are feeling kind and wish to provide your PC’s future owner with a new copy of Windows, choose “Cloud download.” This will need the use of internet data. If you’re going to discard your computer, the “Local reinstall” option is a good choice
- Then, under “Additional settings,” select “Change settings” and check the box next to “Clean data.” The process will take longer, but it will be the most secure solution
- To begin the procedure, press the “Reset” button.
How to Wipe a Windows 8 and 8.1 Hard Drive
- Select Settings Change PC Settings Update and Recovery Recovery from the Start menu. Remove everything from your computer and reinstall Windows by selecting “Get started,” then clicking on “Next.” “Fully clean the drive” should be selected. The process will take longer, but it will be the most secure solution
- To begin the procedure, press the “Reset” button.
Secure Erase Using Third-party Tools
For those who have an earlier version of Windows installed on their computer, or who just want greater control over the erasure process, there are a variety of open-source third-party applications available to erase their computer’s hard disk, depending on whether they have a hard drive or a solid-state drive.
Secure Erase an HDD
There are several tools available to help you erase data from a hard drive, and you may do it yourself using one of the following methods:
- For hard disk drives, DBAN (short for Darik’s Boot and Nuke) has been around for years and is a well-known and reliable drive wipe software for hard disk drives. This program does multiple pass rewrites on the disk (binary ones and zeros). There is a need that you download it to a USB device and execute it from there
- The Disk Wipe tool is yet another free application that does numerous rewrites of binary data on a single disk. When it comes to overwriting your disk, you have a variety of options to select from. Disk Wipe is also portable, which means you don’t have to install it before you can use it. Eraser:Eraser is also available for free usage. It provides you with the greatest amount of control over how your disk is erased. Similarly to Disk Wipe, you may pick from a variety of various ways that involve varied quantities of rewrites, or you can create your own.
Keep in mind that any disk erase tool that does repeated rewrites will take a considerable amount of time to complete. If you’re running Windows 7 or earlier and are only interested in recycling your computer, you may stop right now. The original installation discs (yep, that’s discs with a “c”.remember? ), if you choose to sell or gift your computer, will be required. It is possible (with those round, shiny things?) to reinstall a new version of Windows.
Secure Erase an SSD
To ensure that your data can’t be retrieved if you have an SSD, you may wish to take the further step of encrypting it before wiping your hard drive. Why? SSDs store and retrieve data in a manner that differs from that of HDDs. HDDs store data at a physical area on the drive platter, which is called the platter cache. Individual memory cells and electrical circuits, which are grouped into pages and blocks, are used to store data on solid-state drives. Writing and rewriting to the same blocks over and over again wears down the drive in the long haul.
- When you order an SSD to erase your data, it doesn’t overwrite the existing data; instead, it writes fresh data to a new block on the SSD’s disk.
- As a result, it is recommended that you encrypt your data stored on an SSD before wiping it.
- If Windows Reset isn’t enough for you and you’ve got this far, we believe that encrypting your data is a step you should consider doing.
- If your laptop falls into the wrong hands, encryption makes it that much more difficult for thieves to gain access to your personal information and use it against you.
Although encrypting your data isn’t difficult, not every Windows PC is created equal. First and foremost, determine whether your device is encrypted by default:
- Start by selecting Start from the Start menu. Select “Windows Administrative Tools” from the drop-down menu that appears. Select “System Information” from the drop-down menu. The term “system information” may also be found by searching on the taskbar. If the response for “Device Encryption Support” is “Meets requirements,” you’re ready to go—encryption is enabled on your device
- Otherwise, you’ll need to reboot.
If this is not the case, the next step is to determine whether your device is equipped with BitLocker:
- Go to the Settings menu. In the search bar, type “BitLocker” to find it. Then select “Manage BitLocker.” Click on “Turn on BitLocker” and follow the on-screen instructions
If neither of these choices are accessible to you, you can encrypt your internal SSD with third-party software. Both VeraCrypt and AxCrypt are excellent choices. Just remember to keep a note of the encryption passcode, as well as the operating system, operating system version, and encryption program used, in case you need to recover the information later on. Once you’ve encrypted your data, the next step is to delete it, and you have a few alternatives to choose from.
- Parted Magic: Parted Magic is the most frequently suggested third-party erase tool for solid-state drives (SSDs), but it is also the most expensive at $11. Because it’s a bootable utility, it’s similar to other of the HDD wipe utilities in that you must download it to a USB stick before running it from there. AT Secure Erase: AT Secure Erase is a command that effectively shocks your solid-state drive. It makes use of a voltage surge to flush out the electrons that have been stored. While this appears to be harmful (and it does cause some wear), it is completely harmless. Due to the fact that it does not wipe the data like other safe erase programs do, there is really less damage done to the SSD.
The Nuclear Option
When nothing less than complete devastation would suffice, make sure to do so in a safe environment. I went around to see if anyone on our team had any suggestions for the best way to break up your journey. Despite the fact that our Senior Systems Administrator, Tim Lucas, has a penchant for explosives, we do not suggest it. You may erase an HDD with a magnet, which is referred to as “degaussing,” however a standard refrigerator magnet will not do the trick. For this, you’ll need to open up your computer and get to the hard drive itself, which will need the use of a neodymium magnet—a magnet powerful enough to erase digits (both on your hard drive and on your hand) in the process.
Alternatively, if you’re going to tear apart your PC to get to the HDD anyway, drilling some holes through the platter or submerging it in acid are both better options.
Drilling holes in the platter twists it, and acid eats away at the surface of it.
Finally, we continue to believe that shredding an HDD is the safest and most secure method of physically destroying it, and that it is the only method we would advocate for physically deleting an SSD.
However, shredding it should only be used as a last option.
We’re confident that you can find something even more entertaining to do with your old hard drive if you decide to blow up your hard drive in the first place.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section.