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Making a bootable USB Drive to just simply format a Machine to erase it.

Posted on 2006-05-19
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Hi there,

I'm looking for a way to create a bootable USB drive (instructions) that will simply allow me to boot into DOS or whatever and format the machine to erase the hard drive contents.  I'm donating around 40 old computers and the organization doesn't want an OS on them.  I also dont want any of the files currently on there to be available for them, so formatting is the best option.  These machines don't have a floppy drive nor CD-Roms.  They are legacy free computers and only have USB ports on them (compaq IPAQ desktops).

If there is a way to make this automated (boot from USB disk and auto run format) that would be great!!!  Not a requirement though ;)

Thank you.
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Question by:rmurdockfed
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Callandor earned 300 total points
ID: 16719271
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by:Brick-Tamland
ID: 16720599
I would first go into the BIOS of one the machines and see if “USB Device” is listed in the boot order. Booting from USB devices was only recently added as an option. You could waste a lot of time building a bootable flash drive that the older machines can’t use.
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by:logic0004
logic0004 earned 300 total points
ID: 16722920
I believe what u wanna do is to erase the stuff from the hard drive of 40 computers that u r donating. But for that purpose, u dont need to format it as its a long time consuming process. As mentioned in your question, the computers dont have floppy and CD drives ; so make sure that the motherboard supports USB boot.
For that go to the BIOS of the system and under "Boot" tab check it out. If it does, then change the boot sequence to boot from USB and make the "KillDisk" for USB flash from the following link :

http://www.killdisk.com/downloadfree.htm

Hopefully this servers ur purpose...
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by:nobus
ID: 16723508
You can simply use Fdisk to delete all the partitions - much quicker.
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by:phototropic
ID: 16723772
Probably the quickest and most efficient way to bulk erase 40 HDDs would be to demagnetise them using a handheld demagnetiser. They are not expensive:

http://www.globalvideoconf.com/Page_218.pdf

Just be careful to avoid the RAM and CPU!
Whether the drives would function at a later date I'm not so sure!

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by:rmurdockfed
ID: 16735217
The computers are USB bootable.  These are old legacy free Compaq Ipaq desktops (about 6 years old).  I will look over all of your reply's and see which one works for me.  Demagnetising them isn't an option as the hard drives need to be used to put a different OS on them after I donate them.  I'm very curious to see how well that killdisk utility will work...
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by:kode99
ID: 16737919
Boot and Nuke is a open source disk cleaner,
http://dban.sourceforge.net/

Same idea as killdisk.  After being 'cleaned' using these programs it will essentially be impossible to recover any data from the drives.  A simple format is not so secure.

If you cannot get USB sticks to boot properly you will be able to get a USB floppy boot.  USB floppy drives are pretty cheap and still save the effort of cracking all the cases to make a more direct connection.  I find it handy to have one kicking around.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16821152003
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by:logic0004
ID: 16740088
I observed that u liked the idea of Killdisk, so i thought to let u know that it just works perfect. Actually, i also work in a corporate network and recently our company gave out around 400 PCs and its a few seconds job to completely erase everything using killdisk instead of re-formatting or deleting the partitions. As a matter of fact, if u just delete the partitions then nothing is gone from the disk, everything is there just the links are deleted. so i would recommend KILLDISK is the best solution.


http://www.killdisk.com/downloadfree.htm

Hopefully this servers ur purpose...
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by:logic0004
ID: 16743976
So, how far u been erasing the HD with KillDisk..

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by:rmurdockfed
ID: 16769821
Split the points.  PC Answers got me on the right track and the Killdisk has the autoexec feature that works well so I boot to USB and let it do it's thing.  Fully automated.  The DBAN utility was a little confusing to get it to boot to a USB device so I didn't spend much time on it.
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