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Re: OT: Can Reformatting A Hard Drive To ext3 Destroy All the Data On It?

I'm surprised this thread was reawakened...makes me wonder what sort of child I created here!

I first used Alan's suggestion about checking for, and if possible, using the security erase feature of a security-erase enabled hard drive. This drive was too old to have such a feature. I checked it with hdparm -I and then hdparm -i to verify the fact.

I then used Sam's dd suggestion on the drive. I selected his suggestion because dd is standard Unix/Linux software, it has presumably passed security audits, and I don't have to make some decision about whether it would "phone home" on me or perhaps leave a nice little tar file on some area of the drive.

Then I disassembled the drive. You don't need a standard screwdriver for it; the main requirement is a torx driver and a little ability to peel off the seals marked "warranty void if removed".

I then did some fairly nasty things to the read/write heads and platters and threw out certain items drive hardware so that it is most unlikely the drive can be reassembled. The platters were futher belabored and rendered scratched, badly bent, and little-kid dirty.

Thanks to all who answered. I'm anxious to try out Alan's "security erase" suggestion on a much newer drive. It appears to be a lot less labor intensive.


On 06/09/2009 05:00 PM, Mike McCarty wrote:
Robert L Cochran wrote:
I have a hard drive that I need to destroy the data on. What is the most dependable way to do this? Can reformatting the drive as ext3 or ext4 or some other filesystem effectively destroy the existing data?

Is there free software that can write zeroes or some form of nonsense to every storage location?

Overwriting the disc, even several times, is not enough to guarantee
that the data _cannot_ be recovered. If you truly need to make the
data unrecoverable, then a hammer is all that's needed. To be truly
sure, open the case (also requires a screwdriver or nutdriver),
and shatter each disc separately. They are usually ceramic these
days, I think. Anyway, physical destruction is the only real guarantee.


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