Wipe hard drive Partition freeware

Started Sep 4, 2009 | Discussions
Vernon D Rainwater
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Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
Sep 4, 2009

I need to remove ALL contents from a Partition on a SATA Hard Drive that contains 2 Partitions "G" and "H". Can someone suggest a Freeware program they have used that functions properly -- so that "Normal" Hard Drive file and folder recovery software will not find the previously erased/deleted files.

I have several (six) Hard Drive units (Boxes) in my main computer and would like to process the one Partition "G" and NOT access Partition "H" that is on this drive.

I run a test (Using my licensed File Scavenger recovery program) to see how many files could be recovered and it found over 200,000 files on Partition "G".

I rarely have a need to completely "get rid of" all files on a Partition and that is the reason I would like to use Freeware software at this time.
I will appreciate any advice.
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Vernon...

Jim Cockfield
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Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 4, 2009

Boot into almost any Linux distro with a Live CD available (for example, SimplyMEPIS, which is free, where you can find more info and download links from http://www.mepis.org )

Then, use this command from a console (substituting the correct drive name for sda. where sda is the first drive in your system, sdb is the second drive in your system, etc.).

su
dd if= dev/zero of= dev/sda bs=1M

If you don't know the drives naming, just type this and you can get a list of drives and partitions:

su
fdisk -l

Basically, that dd command "zero fills" the entire drive, making it pretty securely erased unless you're using specialized forensic utilities.

If you want something that's even better, try this free utility (but, I'd make sure to unplug any drives you want to keep the data on before running it).

http://www.dban.org

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dizzy_jc
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Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 4, 2009

try this freeware program : Eraser v6

can download from 'major geeks'

http://majorgeeks.com/Eraser_d4221.html

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Zone8
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Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 4, 2009

The best way to totally make a drive "as new" is to download a simple utility, to run either from a floppy or CD, as provided by hard drive manufactiuers.

Go to the website for the maker of your drive and look for a simple utility to totally wipe the disc clean. As run from DOS, will take quite a time to complete. This is the only way I know to really remove everything. Reformatting and most utilities do NOT remove the MBR info.

Alternatively, check for a suitable one here:

http://utility1.software.informer.com/download-utility-wipe-drive-dod-boot/

To really wipe totally to make disc as though unusued, you need to use one as described.

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Zone8

The photograph isolates and perpetuates a moment of time: an important and revealing moment, or an unimportant and meaningless one, depending upon the photographer's understanding of his subject and mastery of his process. -Edward Weston
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Lunatic59
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Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 4, 2009

Go to:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/gparted/files/gparted-live-stable/0.4.6-1/

download the .iso image and burn it to a CD, then boot from the CD.

It's pretty self-explanatory.

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http://cmgd.net

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Vernon D Rainwater
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Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Zone8, Sep 5, 2009

Zone8 wrote:

The best way to totally make a drive "as new" is to download a simple utility, to run either from a floppy or CD, as provided by hard drive manufactiuers.

Go to the website for the maker of your drive and look for a simple utility to totally wipe the disc clean. As run from DOS, will take quite a time to complete. This is the only way I know to really remove everything. Reformatting and most utilities do NOT remove the MBR info.

Alternatively, check for a suitable one here:

http://utility1.software.informer.com/download-utility-wipe-drive-dod-boot/

To really wipe totally to make disc as though unusued, you need to use one as described.

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Zone8

The photograph isolates and perpetuates a moment of time: an important and revealing moment, or an unimportant and meaningless one, depending upon the photographer's understanding of his subject and mastery of his process. -Edward Weston
http://www.photosnowdonia.co.uk/ZPS

Thanks for your reply:

The drive is a WD 320 GB RE2 5 year warranty drive. Would the Data Lifeguard for Floppy or for Cd be what you are referring to. I don't find anything that is "generally" referred to as a "wipe disk file" or something similar.

I prefer to NOT wipe the entire drive since there are some important Image Backup files on the 2nd Partition "G".
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Vernon D Rainwater
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Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Lunatic59, Sep 5, 2009

Lunatic59 wrote:

Go to:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/gparted/files/gparted-live-stable/0.4.6-1/

download the .iso image and burn it to a CD, then boot from the CD.

It's pretty self-explanatory.

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http://cmgd.net

Thank you for your help: Also, thank you Jim:

I have DL the file and processed the ISO file to CD. I thought there may be some type of read me file with some helpful details but evidently all details are in the "Actual" execution stage for the "wipe operation" -- is this correct.

Also, can this software be used to wipe ONLY one partition of a drive with more than one Partition.

Another post by Jim referred to software that would need to disconnect ALL other drives and I assume it just wipes ALL hard drives that it finds on the computer -- which I don't want to get into this type of operation. Also, even though I have been in computers since 1952, I know nothing regarding Linux so would prefer to NOT use the Linux that Jim also referred to.
Your comments will be appreciated.
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Vernon D Rainwater
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Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to dizzy_jc, Sep 5, 2009

dizzy_jc wrote:

try this freeware program : Eraser v6

can download from 'major geeks'

http://majorgeeks.com/Eraser_d4221.html

I downloaded the mentioned program and it is an .EXE file so no information file with the download. Do you know if it can be used to wipe ONLY one partition of a drive with 2 partitions.
Thanks for your reply and any additional information you may provide.
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Vernon...

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Vernon D Rainwater
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Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Sep 5, 2009

Jim Cockfield wrote:

Boot into almost any Linux distro with a Live CD available (for example, SimplyMEPIS, which is free, where you can find more info and download links from http://www.mepis.org )

Then, use this command from a console (substituting the correct drive name for sda. where sda is the first drive in your system, sdb is the second drive in your system, etc.).

su
dd if= dev/zero of= dev/sda bs=1M

If you don't know the drives naming, just type this and you can get a list of drives and partitions:

su
fdisk -l

Basically, that dd command "zero fills" the entire drive, making it pretty securely erased unless you're using specialized forensic utilities.

If you want something that's even better, try this free utility (but, I'd make sure to unplug any drives you want to keep the data on before running it).

http://www.dban.org

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Jim, thank you for your assistance. Please see comments in the below link:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1004&message=32923582
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Brad99
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Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 5, 2009

I haven't used Disk Wipe 1.5 http://www.nonags.com/freeware-disk-wipe_3547.html but Nonags are pretty good at checking programs are worthwhile, and the screenshots on the author's site clearly show that separate volumes can be selected.

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Jim Cockfield
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GParted does *not* securely erase
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 5, 2009

GParted is a partition editor.

It is not designed to securely erase a drive or partition.

It's a tool you'd use to rearrange a drive's partitions (for example, resizing a partition, adding a partition, or deleting a partition. It can also format a partition.

But, that does not securely erase anything. All you're doing to updating the partition table in the master boot record, moving any data around for resizing, or formatting the file system on an individual partition (which doesn't overwrite everything on it).

Heck, I've deleted partitions, added partitions and more with it and still managed to recover both data and partitions using another utility after using it.

To erase data so that it's not easily recoverable, you have to overwrite everything on partition (or on the sectors that were being used by it).

Note that I would not delete a partition using GParted if you want to securely erase it, because that will make it much harder to erase (since you'd need to know the byte offsets of where the partition originally started and stopped in order to completely overwrite it).

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 5, 2009

Vernon, it sounds like you want to erase one partition on a drive, versus an entire drive.

If you read my original post, you can do that using a Linux command called dd (which can overwrite everthing on a device using zeros if desired).

Note that the other product I mentioned (dban) is not a linux distribution. It's just a wipe utility designed to erase all drives (hence the need to disconnect any drives you don't want wiped). Don't use it for deleting one partition.

You'll want to use a Linux Live CD instead.

I haven't booted into a GParted Live CD lately. So, I don't know if it's got any other common linux utilities on it's CD or not. Chances are, it does. But, I don't know how easy it is to get to a console (terminal program) to use them.

The SimplyMEPIS Linux distro I mentioned in my first post has many utilities on it (including GParted). . But, again, you don't want to use it to securely erase anything. That's not what it's designed for.

You can very easily delete a partition with it and still recover it later using a tool like testdisk designed to analyze a drive for known partitions and update the MBR to include them again.

Even if you can't update the MBR with the old partition information (because you've expanded an existing partition to use the space previously occupied by one you removed using GParted), you can still recover any files on it using utilities designed to ignore the underlying partition table and file systems on a drive and go after files instead.

To easily overwrite all data on a drive, use the dd utility I mentioned instead. To repeat the instructions in my first post:

Jim Cockfield wrote:

Boot into almost any Linux distro with a Live CD available (for example, SimplyMEPIS, which is free, where you can find more info and download links from http://www.mepis.org )

Then, use this command from a console (substituting the correct drive name for sda. where sda is the first drive in your system, sdb is the second drive in your system, etc.).

su
dd if= dev/zero of= dev/sda bs=1M

If you don't know the drives naming, just type this and you can get a list of drives and partitions:

su
fdisk -l

Basically, that dd command "zero fills" the entire drive, making it pretty securely erased unless you're using specialized forensic utilities.

To expand upon that answer, yes, you can also use it to overwrite data on an individual partition versus an entire drive.

Open a Terminal (Console) in most Linux distros and do this, typing the root password when prompted, which is going to be "root" (without the quotes) on a Live CD like SimplyMEPIS:

su
fdisk -l

That will give you a list of drives and partitions in your system. With most newer Linux distros, your first drive will be sda, your second drive will be sdb, your third drive will be sdc, your fourth drive will be sdd, etc. Those are physical drives, not drive letters assigned to partitions, and most linux distros will go by their boot order in the BiOS.

If you want to reference an individual partition, you'll see them numbered after the drive identifier. For example, sda1 is the first partition on your first drive, sda2 is the second partition on your first drve, sda3 is the third partition on your first drive, etc.

For example, if you wanted to reference the second partition on your second drive, it would be sdb2 (where sdb is the second hard drive and the 2 represents the second partition on it).

So, if you wanted to "zero" fill the second partition on the second drive (to overwrite all data used by that partition), you could do this from a terminal:

su
dd if= dev/zero of= dev/sdb2 bs=1M

Note that the bs is optional (it's just the number of bytes it's writing at one time). Here's a wiki about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dd_%28Unix%29

If you wanted an even more secure way to do it (more than one pass, so you're overwriting it more than once), you could use a utility called shred. It's syntax is a bit different: The easiest way to use it is like this (using it's defaults, which overwrites the target device 25 times using random data by default):

su
shred dev/sdc2

Or, like this (which also zero fills it after overwriting it to help hide the evidence of shredding, while giving you a progress report during the operation:

su
shread -vfc dev/sdc2

In those two examples, I'm overwriting all data on the second partition of the third drive (sdc), hence the target device of sdc2

You can see more options by typing this from a terminal:

shred --help

If all of that sounds a bit complicated, the main thing is to make sure you've got the correct target partion, and you can see a list of drives and partitions using the fdisk -l command mentioned like this:

su
fdisk -l

IOW, it's really not that hard, once you understand Linux device naming. If you want me to talk you through it via phone, send me an e-mail with a phone and I'll be glad to help out.

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Vernon D Rainwater
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For Jim -- Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Sep 5, 2009

The message was too long when used as a reply so I have used this method to reply:

Hello Jim, First may I say that you are a VERY devoted person with helping others.

Also, your information is always presented (in detail) with specific syntax and other details and I really appreciate that method when offering help for others.

I will download the program(s) and/or other information you have explained and review it and I am sure that I should not have serious issues with understanding after I have devoted the proper time to review. Most of my Computer background started during the DOS days with the various IBM Computers (both large and smaller) and all the many operating systems and programming languages that I seemed to "stay up to my chin" with learning and programming using the various languages. Also, I was in Management and responsible for all Systems Design, Programming, and Operations for a complete Division of a large Corporation. However, I always stayed current with each of the various Operating Systems and Programming languages while in the Management positions.

Later, with the PC Computers; I designed and programmed systems in the Medical, Agricultural, Nursing Home care, Real Estate, and other areas.

Since the "wipe one partition" is a somewhat one time need, it is obvious that I was trying to "be lazy" and not have to devote the usual time and attention -- but, I now believe that I should do as I usually do and devote the proper attention since I MAY also need to use this in the future.

Jim, thanks again and after I have completely reviewed, I will contact you for any needed help -- beyond what you have already "graciously" provided.
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Vernon...

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: For Jim -- Re: Wipe hard drive Partition freeware
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 5, 2009

The GParted Live CD you already downloaded should have dd on it. I haven't boot into a Gparted Live CD for a while now, so I don't know how hard it is to get to a terminal to issue commands (it goes directly into the Gparted program after it loads, which is not what you want to use for securely erasing a partition, as the data can still be easily recovered after deleting a partition with it).

You can probably get to a console prompt one way or another with it if you don't see that option in it's menus. You can probably click on an open area of your desktop to see your options. If there is a terminal program there, then you're all set. If not, you may need to do something like press ALT-F2 to exit the window manager, then log in using user name root.

How secure you need to make the erase also comes into the equation.

When you overwrite the existing data using a tool to "zero fill" the area used by your data, it's going to be virtually impossible to recover any of that data unless you have very specialized forensic tools designed to look at weaker magnetic signatures that may still be present in addition to the main data used for the zeros. IOW, think NSA, etc.

So, for most purposes, a simple zero fill is enough (and saves a lot of time versus trying to make multiple passes with random data and zeros). You could also use dd to write fill a partitiin with random data first (there is already a parameter to let you do that), then use it again (second pass) to zero fill it if you want it a bit more securely erased, without going to the trouble of using something like the shred utility to make 25 or more passes with random data + a zero fill.

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Zone8
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For Vernon
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 5, 2009

Vernon D Rainwater wrote:

Thanks for your reply:

The drive is a WD 320 GB RE2 5 year warranty drive. Would the Data Lifeguard for Floppy or for Cd be what you are referring to. I don't find anything that is "generally" referred to as a "wipe disk file" or something similar.

I prefer to NOT wipe the entire drive since there are some important Image Backup files on the 2nd Partition "G".

The utilities (Western Digital has one you can download) will totally wipe the disc - whether there are oartitions or not. It is a disc utility. The one you mentioned can be used to write zeros, so that will erase everything and make the disc as new.

The only thing you can do is reformat the partition you want to delete info from (via My Computer - right click and select Quick Format). However, that will NOT remove the MBR (Master Boot Record).

You would do better making copies of those images on the partition - on to an external USB HDD or on CDs so that you could then use the Western Digital utility (or one of those I gave links to) to make the disc as though it had just come from the factory. If you have a MBR on the drive - especially if XP or Vista - you will run into trouble.

http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?lang=en

and

http://en.kioskea.net/telecharger/telecharger-815-hdd-low-level-format-tool

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The photograph isolates and perpetuates a moment of time: an important and revealing moment, or an unimportant and meaningless one, depending upon the photographer's understanding of his subject and mastery of his process. -Edward Weston
http://www.photosnowdonia.co.uk/ZPS

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: For Vernon
In reply to Zone8, Sep 5, 2009

Zone8 wrote:

The only thing you can do is reformat the partition you want to delete info from (via My Computer - right click and select Quick Format). However, that will NOT remove the MBR (Master Boot Record).

Or, any data in the drive. The MBR is just the first 512 bytes of the drive, containing a partition table and optional boot loader. It really doesn't have anything to do with the actual data being stored on the drive.

Basically, it's just the way the operating system knows what byte offsets each partition starts and ends at on the drive, what type they are, etc. (and a boot loader can also be there).

But, you don't even need the partition table to recover data from a drive (and you can easily recreate the MBR if you remove all partitions on a drive, just by using specialized utilities designed to find the start and stop byte offsets on the drive for the removed partitions. Testdisk is one free utility that can easily do that for you.

The only way to get rid of the data is to overwrite the same sectors the data was in (using random data, or zeroes, etc.). Otherwise, even if the file system is totally destroyed (formatting the partition), or you removed the partitions, or even destroyed the MBR, you can still easily recover files from it using utilities if you haven't overwritten the space used by them.

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Vernon D Rainwater
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For Jim and Zone8
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Sep 5, 2009

This is my normal "work partition" and used for all new image downloads from my compact flash cards as well as it has all index files plus thumbnail files of ALL the images I have backed up over the past 58 years -- so, it has a lot of file names that can be recovered with my recovery software,  File Scavenger. As mentioned in my first post, my test indicated it has well over 200,000 files that can be recovered and many of these are on my "in home" and "off site" backup hard drives -- so I don't need them and just want to "reset the drive to 00 (NO) data" and start over.

However, that is the reason I want to "wipe this partition" to get rid of the many thousands of file names that are NO longer needed even if I had a disaster regarding this Partition.

I keep "Everything" on this partition backed up at all times with the exception of my last downloads are not backed up (for a short period of time - in hours) -- then, I will backup the RAW (CR2) plus converted .TIF files to another hard drive that is removable by means of using hard drive racks. I have 2 racks in this computer plus several internal drives and also have external drives that are used.

Hopefully this will better explain what and why I need to wipe the partition -- of course the wipe to be after copying existing "current working" files and folders to another drive then copy back after completing the wipe operation.
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Vernon D Rainwater
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In reply to Jim Cockfield, Sep 5, 2009

I have been using Google for trying to find a reference to a Linux user guide or other named document that would list the various commands and Syntax so to know what the various items in the entire Syntax equation. I find "many thousands" of references which seem to NOT be what I am needing.

In summary, I like to know what each component in a command kine Syntax is for and what it does.

Jim, can you suggest a link or reference for the above. In summary, I want to understand "what I am telling the Program and/or Computer to do.
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Jim Cockfield
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Re: For Jim and Zone8
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 5, 2009

I thought maybe you had something very sensitive on it and needed to make sure it was very securely erased.

Keep in mind that you can still recover files from a drive, even if the file system is destroyed where no filenames or date/time stamps associated with those files are recoverable.

I'd probably zero fill the partition using dd anyway, in case you did need to recover files later, despite a major file system problem (so that the data associated with the old files wasn't on the drive anymore and being picked up by specialized utilities if you ever got to that point).

Again, send an e-mail to the address in my profile and I'll be happy to talk you through it using the GParted Live CD you already downloaded (I'm pretty sure it's got dd on it already - even if it's not visible in any menus). It's pretty easy to do once you've done it. But, to someone new to Linux, the naming conventions for drives and partitions can probably be a bit intimidating (and I wouldn't want you to overwrite the wrong partition by accident). So, we can use fdisk -l and find the partiton for it (and even browse it to make sure it's the right one before overwriting it).

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: For Jim
In reply to Vernon D Rainwater, Sep 5, 2009

Syntax can vary by Linux distro (what versions of utilities are being used, how the drive naming works and more).

So, it's best to use a guides for a specific distro.

For example, I use SimplyMEPIS 8.0 as my primary operating system and they have a user guide for it on the CD. See http://www.mepis.org for more info.

You'll see an icon for it's user guide on the desktop if you boot into it. It's the same as this one:

http://www.mepislovers.org/forums/user_manual8/

The user guide also has links to other guides and info (you'll see external links for almost every section in it).

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