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best way to Destroy Hard drive data

Posted on 2003-11-06
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2007-12-19
We have recently closed a location which housed a network consisting of 80+ PCs. All of the PCs have been removed from desks and stacked in a room. I need to remove the data from all of the PCs before they leave this location. Does anyone have an idea for a floppy disk that I can insert and kill the whole hard drive (OS and all) without me having to plug the monitor, mouse, keyboard etc. back in. Obviously I will need to plug the PC back in, I am just trying to avoid having to re-set up all of them just to trash them. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.  :-)
Question by:jpdoyle7
LVL 10

Accepted Solution

KenAdney earned 200 total points
ID: 9696327
If the PCs are going to be disposed of (rather than reused), I'd get a degausser, which is essentially a big electro-magnet.  We use it to wipe 9 track tapes.  

As far as I know, none of the file shredders will eliminate the OS (http://download.com.com/3120-20-0.html?qt=file+shredder&tg=dl-2001&search=+Go%21+).

Of course, a hammer is pretty effective too. :-)
LVL 63

Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 9696336
In answer to the title of your thread...
Either a large hammer or a nail through the case.

If you want to preserve the disk for future use you must accept that some data will be recoverable - it depends on how seriously you want to "trash" it.

 M :o)
LVL 10

Assisted Solution

LRI41 earned 1000 total points
ID: 9696377
KillDisk- Hard Drive Eraser 1.1


Download Now Free download 214K

Minimum requirements: Windows 3.x/95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP
Uninstaller included?: No

Publisher's Description
From the developer: Active@ KillDisk is powerful and compact DOS software that allows you to destroy all data on hard and floppy drives completely, excluding any possibility of future recovery of deleted files and folders. This is security software for unrecoverable data elimination for any computer capable of booting in DOS mode from floppy drive. It uses access to the drive’s data on a physical level via BIOS bypassing logical drive structure organization, thus it does not matter operating systems and file systems located on the machine, it can be DOS, Windows 95 / 98, Windows NT / 2000 / XP, Linux, Unix for PC. Active@ KillDisk conforms to US Department of Defense clearing and sanitizing standard DoD 5220.22-M. You can be sure that once you clean up with Active@ KillDisk, sensitive information is purged out forever. We highly recommend you to run this FREE utility for the hard and floppy drives you want to dispose of, recycle, re-use, sell or donate to somebody.




langalist] LangaList Standard Edition 2002-08-15  
Date: 8/14/2002 9:19:46 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: fred@langa.com

Free Utility to "Sterilize" Hard Disks

     Hi Fred, [Here's] a free utility for erasing information off
     disks; it runs from a bootable floppy. It's called Autoclave
     and was written by Josh Larios from Washington University and
     can be found here:

     ...[I]t sounds like a cool tool to have around, for when it's
     time to discard old drives. As the description of the program
     claims, the most thorough erasing "25 structured passes:
     Unbearably slow, but probably secure against the NSA" )---
     Eran Rosenmann

Thanks, Eran. The tagline for "Autoclave" is "hard drive sterilization"
and it does sound like it could exceed some of the techniques we covered
in http://www.informationweek.com/837/langa.htm . I'd probably feel
comfortable using Autoclave on most standard hard drives, but I still
have to agree with the US Government that the only 100% certain way to
ensure that a hard drive's data is no longer readable is to destroy the
drive physically. (No, I'm not kidding!)

I've actually done that several times in the past, such as when I
replaced a dying hard drive that had contained subscriber information
from the Plus! edition of this newsletter. I wiped the old drive clean
with third-party software using a standard "government wipe" process: a
7-pass procedure that involves overwriting the entire disk (including
the directory, where the file names and attributes are stored) multiple
times with random data, and truncating the file allocation record so
that wiped files appear to be a zero-length items.

I then used a prybar to destroy the drive's circuit board; popped open
the drive enclosure, broke off the drive heads, and scratched off large
amounts of the oxide coating on the actual platters.

Extreme? It all depends on how much you want to protect old data from
potential snoops. (In my case, I take data security *very* seriously.
<g>) For less extreme cases, something like Autoclave may be a simple,
less messy alternative!


Darik's Boot and Nuke

Darik's Boot and Nuke ("DBAN") is a self-contained boot floppy that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.
This checklist applies to DBAN version 1.

Fast. Rapid deployment in emergency situations.
Easy. Start the computer with DBAN and press the ENTER key.
Safe. Irrecoverable data destruction. Prevents most forensic data recovery techniques.
Price and Usage Restrictions
Price per computer:  FREE
Price per user:  FREE
Number of wipes:  UNLIMITED
Open source code:  YES
Wipe Methods
Quick Erase  YES
Canadian RCMP TSSIT OPS-II Standard Wipe  YES
American DoD 5220-22.M Standard Wipe  YES
Gutmann Wipe  YES
PRNG Stream Wipe  YES
8/33/137 gigabyte disk size BIOS limit fix:   YES
Fast PRNG (Mersenne Twister)  YES
Entropy Seeding  YES
Verification  YES
Logging  YES
Hardware Drivers
Controllers: XT, IDE, ATA, SCSI  ALL
Consoles: Serial, HGA, VGA   ALL

Platform Support
DBAN has all available SCSI disk drivers.
DBAN has all available IDE disk drivers and extended chipset tuning support.
DBAN runs on all 32-bit x86-class computers (Athlon, Pentium, and others) with at least 8 megs of memory. If you find an incompatible machine, then please report it.
DBAN supports all Microsoft platforms and securely destroys FAT, VFAT, and NTFS filesytems.
MS-DOS, Windows 3.1
Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME
Windows NT 3.0, Windows NT 3.1, Windows NT 3.5, Windows NT 4.0
Windows 2000, Windows XP
DBAN supports all unix platforms and securely destroys ReiserFS, EXT, and UFS filesystems.
FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD

Note: The dban-1.0.2 release is incompatible with computers that have read/write ATAPI devices, like Iomega Zip Drives, and is primarily intended for people that were having driver problems with the dban-1.0.1 release. If dban-1.0.1 works for you, then continue to use it. Check the changelog for information about the new drivers. These releases have identical wipe code.

Request: Donations of this hardware would greatly help in the further development of DBAN:

Internal Iomega Zip drive.
Hard disk with a soft sector size. (eg: Any Western Digital IDE disk that is smaller than 500 megs.)
50-pin SCSI disk, any size.
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9699105
>>>Does anyone have an idea for a floppy disk that I can insert and kill the whole hard drive <<<   Unless they are all set to boot from a floppy as the first boot device, No. You will have to hookup at least the keyboard and monitor.  If they are, then you could make a floppydisk with DOS on it and any program that will kill the partitions and format it ( low level format is best ), and make a AUTOEXEC.BAT file to run the kill program.
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9699671
Use this one to be sure that all data is fully deleted http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/
This is the only free program I know that uses Peter Gutmann's alogarithm for deleting files.

Afterwards, if you want to destroy partition tables etc. use killdisk => www.killdisk.com


Expert Comment

ID: 9701727
Your best bet would seriously be to set up a monitor, keyboard, and mouse that have the plugs easily accessable, and just plug em in one at a time and go.. that's really the only way to be 100% sure that you've removed the data on the drives..

Expert Comment

ID: 9702173
Make a linux floppy that you put into the computer and it boots, it's only command after loading the kernel is

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda

/dev/hda - Primary master
/dev/hdb - Primary Slave
/dev/hdc - Secondary Master
/dev/hdd - Secondary Slave

Or easier yet, get this program that someone already made as a floppy image.


Or if you you are paranoid:

for n in `seq 16`; do dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/hda; done

This will write random bits to the entire hard drive making the old data unrecoverable, and does it for 16 passes.

The data will not come back after this command.

Expert Comment

ID: 9702183
Opps, just saw that DBAN was already listed...sorry.

BTW the Paranoid method will take longer then the simple wipe

Expert Comment

ID: 9725255
>> Title: best way to Destroy Hard drive data

In Terminator 2, they threw it into melted metal...

Author Comment

ID: 9750951
Thank you all for your suggestions.  Even though in the end I needed to have people physically connect Monitors and Keyboards, the deletions went reasonable smooth. Thank you all for the suggestions. In several of the softwares, glitches occoured and or it was too time consuming for them to work efficiently (Please do not slam me if you feel your suggestion may have been better, i am just saying that some of them did not work as well for me). These were all windows based PCs with no more than 2 HDs apiece (not counting servers). For my purposes the KillDisk suggested first from LRI41 worked best for me Darik's for some unknown reason kept hanging even though I downloaded the software from 3 sources. I didn't have Unix, However I did use a drill bit to get rid of some of them, for that I will increase the points by 50  for the smart ass answer given by KenAdney and give them to him. Again thank you for the suggestions, I knew I could count on you guys (and girls as it may be).


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