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Format Utility

Posted on 2003-03-27
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Hi,

I was wondering if anyone knew where to get a Format Utility that formats the whole drive (Military format) and leaves no traces of anything on the hard drive.
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Question by:mrthestuff
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Zoplax earned 160 total points
ID: 8219497
Here's some info on low-level formatting of hard drives.  

http://www.ameriwebs.net/groupworks/george/llf.htm

They link to some freeware utilities as well.
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by:Arjun1
ID: 8219943

Hello,

I would suggest that you go to the Website of your HDD manufacturer. If you look around there you will surely find something called DiskManager Utility. This is also called DM Utility. It can be run from DOS. All you have to do is insert the Floppy diskette with the DM Utility into the floppy drive and reboot your computer.

Depending on the HDD manufacturer this utility gives you many options like the ones to low Level Format, Diagnostics, Write and Read Test, Zero Fill the drive etc.
Most of the time the DM manufactured by two differetn HDD manufacturers may not be similar.

Major Hard Disk Drive manufacturers like  Maxtor, Seagate, Western Digital etc all have such a utility to be used with their HDDs.
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Expert Comment

by:bjorndahlen
ID: 8220125
OK,
it all depends on how thorough you want to be.

The methods span from deletes recoverable by your kid niece, to physically distroying the disk.
 
A zero-fill (sometimes refered to as a low-level format
to confuse things) is fairly safe, from normal software
recovery procedures, but will not hold up againt a more dedicated attack.
If you are serious about clearing your HDD, short of
physically distroying it, you could take a look at some
"wipe", "erase" programs. These work by filling the disk
with random sequences of 0's and 1's, some repeating the process 1 or more times.

Personally I prefer PGP Wipe, as it not only trashes areas
as it deletes files, but it will also trash empty areas.

I believe the currently 7 overwrites with random bits is considered unrecoverable, not sure what the DOD recommendation is.

Cheers, Bjorn

 

 
 
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Expert Comment

by:SunBow
ID: 8220959
Right on, definitely trash all areas, regardless.

>  (Military format) and leaves no traces of anything on the hard drive

Oh, there'll always be something left, not that it'd be any good to anyone. Which Military?

In olden days, Norton Utilities had a diskwipe, or wipedisk, that allowed either user choice of bit pattern, or a special case, referring to gov't standard (US), I believe it was FIPS. You might check Symmantec for what they have now. It's been said that people sell Windows utilities to do this, but I fail to understand how a Windows program would continue to function throughout the first format. I recommend a boot diskette version of whatever.

I agree on the seven wipes, first because that's what my memory tells me was standard, but also because current news has it that the spooks can go back over the disk to recover from up to seven erasures. Believe that and I got a bridge I'll sell you.

For first two wipes, it goes all zeroes then all ones. The next two are bytes filled with alternating zeroes and ones (one a leading zero, the other a leading one. The next two I forget, (repeat of earlier pattern?), but the last one is a special byte, something like ED or FE that is quote 'standard', but nothing intuitive (to me) about the format of the bit pattern used.

If you are required to use a specific standard, then it is incumbant upon you to request what that standard is, either the definition, or at least a formal name that you can search upon, such as FIPS or DOD, etc. You might try websites affiliated with the agency of interest for runnung a search. Or request that SW provider document what it does, and which standard it is for. I believe Norton did that.

Do note, that one format pass requires a long time, so a multiple pass algorithm will require that much more time. Most don't have the stomach to take the time to do that job well. Thus, if you did, your operation will look rather slow to others, comparatively. (some think an fDisk is as good or better than a wipedisk - I disagree.)
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Expert Comment

by:SunBow
ID: 8221270
Oh my, check out this from Google, author not listed:
http://web.textfiles.com/software/sfs7.txt

"The general concept behind the overwriting scheme used by SFS is to flip each magnetic domain on the disk back and forth as much as possible (this is the basic idea behind degaussing) without writing the same pattern twice in a row."
...
"To erase magnetic media, we need to overwrite it many times with alternating patterns in order to expose it to a magnetic field oscillating fast enough that it does the desired flipping of the magnetic domains in a reasonable amount of time."
...
"We now have a set of 22 overwrite patterns which will erase everything, regardless of the raw encoding."
...
"To deal with all this in one overwrite pattern, SFS uses the following sequence of 35 consecutive writes to erase data:"
...
"There is a commonly-held belief that there is a US government standard for declassifying magnetic media which simply involves overwriting data on it three times."
...
"Among others there is the Department of Defense standard DoD 5200.28-M, Army standard AR 380-19, Navy standards OPNAVINST 5510.1H and NAVSO P-5239-26, Air Force standard AFSSI-5020, and Department of Energy standard DOE 5637.1."
...
"The UK Ministry of Defence grinds down disk platters and then supposedly stores the (still-classified) dust for a decade or more.  Rumours that they remove programmers brains for storage in order to erase the classified information they contain are probably unfounded."
...
"From a posting to the usenet alt.security newsgroup on 1 August 1994, message-ID <31c75s$pa8@search01.news.aol.com>: "I got fired from my job and was told to clean my desk, so I immediately went to my office and ran Norton WipeDisk on my hard drive, which contained much of the work I had done and also my contact list, letters, games, and so on.  Unfortunately, I had DoubleSpaced it and the files were easily recovered"."
...
------------------------------------------------------
[my compliments to the author, the text is very well presented, with sufficient techno mumbo-jumbo, without being too abusive with that - good reading if interested in topic]
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Expert Comment

by:bjorndahlen
ID: 8221679
So,
it basically boils down to what lengths you
are willing to go thru to protect your data.
If you aren't bound by corporate policy, and you
are say replacing a hard drive and selling the old one,
probably any program that will overwrite the tracks
will be fine. If you want to go for multi-pass,
SunBow mentioned that each pass takes a long
time, and that's no joke...

 Unless of course you have reason to believe
that somebody is buying your disk to obtain the data
you had from it and is willing to spend thousands to recover it.
In this case, it may be easier and faster to take it to a
junkyard with a car compactor, toss it in the backseat
and watch the car get crushed.
 Might be more enjoyable to...

Cheers, Bjorn
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Expert Comment

by:CeLLuS
ID: 8222236
Wipe info -  is a Norton System Work Utility that allows you to permanently remove data from HD without removing the OS.  For additional security, you can set it to Government Wipe, a 7-step procedure that conforms to the method specified in DoD(Departement of Defense) document 5220.22M, National Industrial Security Program Operation Manual.

GDisk - is a Norton Ghost Utility that allows you to permanetly wipe your entire HD (partitions included).  This utility can be run from a boot disk and also conforms to the method specified in DoD document 5220.22M, National Industrial Security Program Operation Manual.

visit this site for info:
http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/ghost.nsf/docid/2002112213111525


Good Luck hope this Helps

CeLLuS
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