permanently erasing a hard drive

I upgrade and replace computers for my clients on a regular basis.  On a number of occasions they ask me to permanently erase all of the information on the hard drive of their old computer.  What software is good to do that and also how do you do it...does the hard drive have to be removed and connected to another computer?
Richard ChristensenRetired computer technicianAsked:
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You not have to remove disk from computer,
You can boot from CD/DVD .

You can use DBAN free software -

You can look here , how to use dban:
I prefer the hardware approach.
Remove the hard drive from the computer, place it on concrete, then apply a 3 lbs Engineer's Hammer, or 4 lbs Blacksmith Hammer.  3 strokes should do it... some people swear by 5 instead.
There are several hard disk wiping utilities that can be found on the "Ultimate Boot CD" website.

What you will do from this website is download and ISO (disk image) of a bootable Linux CD.  You then burn that ISO to a CD, boot the server from that CD and then go through the menu from that bootable cd for "disk wiping" products.

There you go.

Good luck.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
DBAN - use DBAN.  The hardware destruction is a good SECOND STEP.  Of course, you have to ask yourself (and your client) who wants the data?  If you're a military contractor, then you need to wipe and use a disk shredding machine.  If you're a scientist trying to protect the data, then you need to wipe and destroy.  If you are doing this for hippa compliance, I would wipe and destroy.  If you're doing it because the client is a hair salon and doesn't want the competitors to have his client list, well, they are being paranoid, but a DBAN alone should be more than sufficient.

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Richard ChristensenRetired computer technicianAuthor Commented:
All good answers.  Thanks a lot for your very useful advice.  
Best regards,
It's "hipaa" by the way: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
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