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can i reuse an external hard drive after its been completely wiped?

Posted on 2014-10-23
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Last Modified: 2014-10-27
I wanted to completely wipe out a hard drive because of viruses on it . I managed to save everything I need from it.  But I wanted to know if I can reuse it after it has been wiped
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Question by:Christopher Redmond
6 Comments
 
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by:käµfm³d 👽
ID: 40399391
If the drive is mechanically sound, certainly.

I managed to save everything I need from it.
You did scan those files, yes?
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by:noxcho
ID: 40399394
Yes, you can. Wiping deletes the partition structure and data from the drive.
After you connect the drive to PC press right click on My Computer - Manage - Disk Management.
There right click on free space and select - Create Partition - follow the wizard and press ok. Use quick format.
Since then you are able to use the USB HDD (all HDDs as well).
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by:Rafael
ID: 40399761
I concur with both above so make sure you scan those files.  However, how did you wipe it would be the question.  According to most standards there are three basic methods to wiping a hard drive as formatting is a true wipe. 1. Use a free data destruction software like DBan; 2. Use a degausser if you have access to one to disrupt the magnetic domains on the drive that store your data; 3. Physically, destroy the drive. However, naturally since you want to re-deploy it again #3 is out and I personally would go with #1 and then redeploy it as everyone here agrees on.

-HTH
-Rafael
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garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 40400553
The comment above clearly intended to say "... formatting is NOT a true wipe"  (he forgot the "NOT").

Also, while DBan is an excellent way to completely wipe a drive to ensure absolutely no remnants of any prior data are on the drive, you can NOT degauss it (#2 above).   Using a degausser will indeed wipe the drive -- but will also wipe the low-level structure information that is necessary for the drive to function.   It would no longer be useable.

Just deleting the data; deleting the partitions; and recreating a new structure will get rid of MOST viruses, but not all.    I'd install a copy of Western Digital's free Data Lifeguard on your system; connect the drive;  and do a FULL Write Zeroes pass on the drive.   THEN you can go to Disk Management; re-initialize the drive; and create a new partition.
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by:noxcho
ID: 40400579
I think the author is not asking how to wipe properly the drive. His question is - can I use it again after it is being wiped.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40401184
YES - you cna use the drive, as USB, or internal, but some steps should be taken :

first - scan and remove virus with :
http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php                         MBAM
http://majorgeeks.com/RogueKiller_d6983.html                  Roguekiller

then delete all the info on it  - after you have a proper backup
if needed, delete , and recreate the partition

only if still problems after that - the use of a 3rd party wiper is necessary (most disk manufacturers have such a tool for free)
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