Jump to content

Photo

Scrubbing a Hard Drive


17 replies to this topic

#1 jhd OFFLINE  

jhd

    Dragonstomper

  • 854 posts
  • Location:Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:08 PM

I will shortly be upgrading to a new laptop. Before I sell the old one, I would like to "scrub" the hard drive of any and all personal information. A complete reformat of the hard drive would be best, of course, but I do not have the system disks anymore (the hardware is about 4+ years old) and I don't think anyone would buy it without a functioning OS. I'm currently running Windows Vista.

Is there anything available that will completely wipe the My Documents file tree?

#2 Rex Dart OFFLINE  

Rex Dart

    Quadrunner

  • 6,286 posts
  • NO CASH VALUE
  • Location:Austin, TX

Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:10 PM

Some info here.

#3 nathanallan OFFLINE  

nathanallan

    Quadrunner

  • 5,582 posts
  • Location:El Paso, TX

Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:37 PM

Some info here.

also here

#4 Hatta OFFLINE  

Hatta

    Stargunner

  • 1,289 posts

Posted Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:29 PM

Just boot a live Linux CD. As root, execute 'dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda1'. Wait for it to finish. You are done, no data can be recovered from the hard disk by any known technology.

If you're paranoid, you can use /dev/urandom instead of /dev/zero, but there's no good reason to, and it takes a lot longer.

#5 BillC ONLINE  

BillC

    Stargunner

  • 1,140 posts
  • Location:BC Canada

Posted Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:04 PM

Just boot a live Linux CD. As root, execute 'dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda1'. Wait for it to finish. You are done, no data can be recovered from the hard disk by any known technology.

If you're paranoid, you can use /dev/urandom instead of /dev/zero, but there's no good reason to, and it takes a lot longer.

He said he wanted to scrub any personal data, while still leaving the OS intact in order to be able to sell the computer.

#6 Bruce Tomlin OFFLINE  

Bruce Tomlin

    River Patroller

  • 3,570 posts
  • CD C9 01
  • Location:Austin, TX

Posted Fri Mar 9, 2012 6:57 AM

These guys swear by Svinto (Swedish Brillo pads) to scrub your hard drive.

http://www.datadockt...nu/us_frag6.php

#7 DanBoris OFFLINE  

DanBoris

    Dragonstomper

  • 970 posts
  • Location:New Jersey, USA

Posted Fri Mar 9, 2012 12:17 PM

I will shortly be upgrading to a new laptop. Before I sell the old one, I would like to "scrub" the hard drive of any and all personal information. A complete reformat of the hard drive would be best, of course, but I do not have the system disks anymore (the hardware is about 4+ years old) and I don't think anyone would buy it without a functioning OS. I'm currently running Windows Vista.

Is there anything available that will completely wipe the My Documents file tree?


There are programs out there that will securly delete files, but the problem is finding all the files that need to be deleted. There are a lot of different places that a file with personal information could end up. Just deleting My Documents wouldn't necessarily be sufficient.

Dan

#8 jferio OFFLINE  

jferio

    Dragonstomper

  • 597 posts
  • I mash buttons randomly.
  • Location:Denver, Colorado

Posted Fri Mar 9, 2012 1:33 PM

The absolute, most sure way of deleting the data you want would be to wipe the drive and reinstall the OS. If you've lost the disk for that, then there's not much that you can do outside of hunt, hunt, hunt, hope you got it all, then find a program that will overwrite the space you freed up several times.

Even deleting My Documents, you have to contend with programs that may have stashed cache copies elsewhere on the hard drive.

#9 OldSchoolRetroGamer OFFLINE  

OldSchoolRetroGamer

    River Patroller

  • 3,989 posts
  • Do you FEEL in charge?
  • Location:CANADA

Posted Fri Mar 9, 2012 3:01 PM

Posted Image
Posted Image

#10 FujiSkunk OFFLINE  

FujiSkunk

    Quadrunner

  • 5,946 posts
  • Behold the Fuji!
  • Location:Planet Houston

Posted Fri Mar 9, 2012 3:42 PM

The safest bet is to scrub the drive before installing a fresh operating system. Hatta's method is good; it turns every bit on the drive into a zero.

Allegedly, someone who is really good at hard drive forensics cab recover data even from a drive that's been written over once. It's something to do with how the physical media that creates each bit is arranged after it has been written one way, then another; something of a "ghost image" of the previous data possibly can be reconstructed. Obviously somebody is going to have to really want your old data for this to happen. If you really want to be that paranoid, the solution is to do multiple swaths of random data instead, using /dev/urandom and running the command multiple times.

As for a new OS install, depending on how you plan on selling the laptop, you may not have to worry about it. Techy types know how to install their preferred OS, so just advertising that an OS is not preinstalled can be good enough. If you do want an OS on the laptop, however, consider using one of the friendlier linux distributions, like Ubuntu. There are also *cough* ways of installing Windows that don't require the original system CDs. I haven't looked for Vista or 7, but for XP it's a snap. I wouldn't recommend this method if the next owner isn't going to know any better, but again, techy types won't care, or will know how to deal with it.

Edited by FujiSkunk, Fri Mar 9, 2012 3:44 PM.


#11 theloon OFFLINE  

theloon

    Quadrunner

  • 7,776 posts

Posted Fri Mar 9, 2012 3:57 PM

The absolute, most sure way of deleting the data you want would be to wipe the drive and reinstall the OS. If you've lost the disk for that, then there's not much that you can do outside of hunt, hunt, hunt, hope you got it all, then find a program that will overwrite the space you freed up several times.

Even deleting My Documents, you have to contend with programs that may have stashed cache copies elsewhere on the hard drive.


Uuuh, no. Overwriting your OS is NOT enough by a longshot. With a few free tools anyone could still retrieve your zebra pr0n. Use a real shredding tool please..
http://www.dban.org/

Edited by theloon, Fri Mar 9, 2012 3:58 PM.


#12 Keatah ONLINE  

Keatah

    Quadrunner

  • 7,646 posts

Posted Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:49 PM

Agreed with the idea that deleting MY DOCUMENTS is not enough. What about all the other bits of info stored in other directories? And can you be sure you've gotten them all? And how will you know?

I personally suggest that you use one of the popular drive erasers and scrubbers already talked about.

Full disk wipe.
Basic reformat.
Then reinstall the OS.

Expecting to achieve a 100% kill rate by manually picking though files and directories is just beyond hilarity. Good luck!

#13 Knubberrub OFFLINE  

Knubberrub

    Star Raider

  • 56 posts
  • Location:South Coast, UK

Posted Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:32 PM


The absolute, most sure way of deleting the data you want would be to wipe the drive and reinstall the OS. If you've lost the disk for that, then there's not much that you can do outside of hunt, hunt, hunt, hope you got it all, then find a program that will overwrite the space you freed up several times.

Even deleting My Documents, you have to contend with programs that may have stashed cache copies elsewhere on the hard drive.


Uuuh, no. Overwriting your OS is NOT enough by a longshot. With a few free tools anyone could still retrieve your zebra pr0n. Use a real shredding tool please..
http://www.dban.org/


Yeah, if I was selling a PC etc I would definitely use something like dban -- I found it quite useful in the past -- and stick something like linux on afterwards or even just leave it without an OS, as someone else suggested.

#14 Trinity OFFLINE  

Trinity

    Dragonstomper

  • 990 posts

Posted Mon Mar 12, 2012 12:59 AM

How about just removing the HDD and destroying it (or keeping it as a back up drive). And then buy a new one and the pop it back in the lappy. And then add the cost of the new HDD to the amount of the for sale price of the lappy. They are dirt cheap these days.

#15 Asaki OFFLINE  

Asaki

    Stargunner

  • 1,305 posts

Posted Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:58 AM

I'll take your old drive, scrub it for free, and then you don't need to worry about getting an OS on there...how big is it? ;)

#16 Bryan OFFLINE  

Bryan

    Quadrunner

  • 8,530 posts
  • Cruise Elroy = 4DB7
  • Location:Costa Rica

Posted Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:45 AM

1. Make sure it doesn't have a recovery partition. Sometimes all you need to reformat and reinstall the OS is already on the drive.
2. Often times you can use a different Windows Vista install disc and just use the Key on your case to activate it. It will probably need to be an OEM disc, though.

#17 Seob OFFLINE  

Seob

    River Patroller

  • 2,173 posts
  • Location:Netherlands

Posted Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:53 AM

If the laptop is only 4 years old, i'm sure the drivers are available at the website of the manufacturer or on other places on the web.

#18 Uzumaki OFFLINE  

Uzumaki

    River Patroller

  • 2,306 posts

Posted Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:06 PM

Boot off OS on USB (if possible) or remove HDD and install on other computer via USB, run mutilate file wiper with high setting on old files (or select entire document or user directory, or heck the whole drive) then wipe free space.

I guarrantee you'd need CIA and their really high tech equipment to find any fragment of old file after it's been mutilated. For non flash storage, I usually find 3 repeat of random numbers is sufficent. For flash storage, it can be harder to really wipe it due to the way some flash storage uses wear leveling. For flash drive, I'd use H2testw, delete verify files, and repeat a couple times.

Is there any reason you can't just install a new OS? Most retail laptop comes with extra partition with OS restore and generally users are expected to make initial backup set of restore CDs or DVDs so they could wipe the main partition and install fresh OS.




0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users