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Recommend a super fast disk wipe utility?

Posted on 2014-12-23
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Last Modified: 2015-01-05
We clone disks (S-ATA) here very frequently.

Sometimes the disk clone process will just crap out at only 2 per cent.

In which case, the DESTINATION HDD will probably already have had a new
boot sector written to it.

In order for me to label the disk as "blank" again - I would have to write zeros to it - which usually takes a couple of hours to complete.

Given that only a tiny amount of data has been written to it - is there any quicker way to "blank" a disk?
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Question by:furuno
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13 Comments
 
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:andreas
ID: 40515684
boot a linux live CD and use dd_rescue to the disk

e.g. dd_rescue /dev/zero /dev/disktonull

wait a few seconds and the ncancel with ctrl+c

then run  

dd_rescue -r /dev/zero /dev/disktonull

to overwrit the end f the disk for a few seconds

then ctrl+c again.

So you can overwrite the first and last few MB of a HDD thus marking it new for all OSes and RAID controllers.

you should use this on a non raid controller to be able to have access to ALL the blocks on the device. Some RAID-controllers hide some sectors from the OS to store its own management information there.
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 40515714
If you are using a *nix box, no need for dd_rescue.    Just use the native dd program.

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M count=4
Above will write zeros to the 1st 4 MB of the disk at /dev/sda  (obviously choose the right disk).  This will run in 2 seconds, tops.
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:andreas
ID: 40515722
Correct but with dd its a pain to delete the last few sectors of a HDD wich is sometimes necessary to mark the disk new for RAID controllers and to get rid of the secondary GPT-entries. They are located at the end of the disk in blocks maxLBA-33 to maxLBA-1.
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 40515733
Take a look at Kill Disk. I used this a long time ago, but no need recently.

http://www.killdisk.com/downloadfree.htm
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40515742
Considering that data on the disk has been written in first 20xxxxx sectors you need to run the wipe in specific amount of time only. Lets say wipe drive in 15 minutes and it will do in this time 20% which must remove the whole boot information.
Here you can stop the wipe and them manually clean the last sector (save empty sector 0 and restore it at the end of the drive).
For this you can use any disk wiping tool such as DBan or KillDisk or Paragon Disk Wiper etc.
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LVL 2

Author Comment

by:furuno
ID: 40515807
Ok thanks for suggestions so far.

Is there any utility which can wipe boot sector ( in lets say 15mins) AND last sector
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 40515822
Automatically - no. You will need to overwrite with empty sector the last sector in any case. And this is done manually. NTFS stores a copy of boot sector at the end of the drive for safety reason. That's why one need to erase it as well. But IMHO for your needs wiping the drive at the start should be ok.
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:andreas
ID: 40515823
Linux tools: dd_rescue and dd
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LVL 70

Accepted Solution

by:
garycase earned 2000 total points
ID: 40515850
Run Western Digital's free Data Lifeguard.    It has a "Write Zeroes" function ... and when you run it you get a choice of "Quick" or "Full".   Just choose the Quick option ... it only writes the key areas with zeroes, which is all you need to make it be seen as a new, un-initialized disk.    Takes well under a minute.
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LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:madunix
ID: 40516053
Data may be permanently destroyed on a hard disk by a wiping utility, which uses random values to overwrite portions of the media, so use wiping utilities to clear hard disks for redeployment.
In our policy stated; If previously held confidential information, the disk should be reformatted and then a secure wipe of the disk should be carried out with appropriate utility software
Darik's Boot And Nuke or others
http://sourceforge.net/projects/wipe/
http://www.dban.org/ 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darik's_Boot_and_Nuke 
http://www.diskwipe.org/ 
http://www.whitecanyon.com/wipedrive-erase-hard-drive 
http://www.pcdiskeraser.com/ 

In case of linux you can use dd and urandom to destroy the disk.
dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sd{drive letter}  bs=1024
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:andreas
ID: 40516179
For data destruction a wipe with zeros is sufficient in very most cases. its impossible to restore zeroed out data, even for data recovery companies.

For a NSA secure wipe it might still not be enough, but it should be enough for most every day cases. Its faster than to overwrite with random numbers. If NSA really wants your data they already got it before you even think about wiping the disks ;)
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 40517637
" .. Correct but with dd its a pain to delete the last few sectors of a HDD"
Not if you know about the skip=xxx  option.   If disk has 12345 blocks, and you want to blow away the last 3 blocks, then you simply do

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/xxxxxxx   bs=512  count=3  skip=12341     (Note it starts with zero,  hence the 12341 instead of 12342, but it really doesn't matter if you oversshoot it. It will write what it can, so I would save time and just do

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/xxxxxxx   bs=1024k   skip=12300
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Author Closing Comment

by:furuno
ID: 40531548
Thanks to everyone who gave some input.

WD Data LifeGuard was exactly what I was looking for.
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