Securely wipe data from a failing hard drive?
Posted on 2005-05-10
I've collected a number of hard drives that either failed or were in the process of failing when I removed them from their computers. In most cases they had bad sectors, but the drive electronics and mechanism are otherwise relatively OK. I need to dispose of them, but want to make sure any data is unreadable. Because in most cases the drives are at least partially functional, there is still a possibility someome could recover valuable data from the drive.
What I'm looking for is a secure wipe utility that executes in a reasonable amount of time for disks that have bad sectors. Ideally, the utility would tell the drive firmware to ignore bad sectors... to basically write to the disk blindly without regard for data integrity. I've already tried one wipe utility that fails to do this, and the disk spends hours upon hours retrying failed sectors and attempting to remap them to "good" parts of the disk... I stopped it after a day and a half, and it wasn't done. I'm well aware of many secure wipe utilities out there... I just don't have the time to research all of them to figure out which might do this, and I'm hoping someone might see this who already knows.
Yes, I know that physically destroying the disks is probably the best route, and that's certainly what I'm going to do for the disks with more serious problems. But that is difficult and is time consuming without expensive special equipment, which I haven't got. I'm looking for a software solution, and it doesn't really matter to me whether it runs on Linux, DOS or Windows. Please don't suggest a solution unless you know for sure it meets my specific requiments... "have you tried XXX?" responses aren't helpful, because I don't have time to try out a dozen different utilities.