How to format entire hard drive.

GlenAJ
GlenAJ used Ask the Experts™
on
I want to wipe a disk on my windows PC, I have a program called Disk wipe v1.7,
I installed it on a flash drive. When I click on 'wipe C drive' (the only choice it gives)
it says "drive in use".
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dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.

Commented:
From http://www.diskwipe.org/disk_wipe_faq.php

>>  I can't wipe the C partition, why?

You cannot wipe a C partition because it is a partition where Windows operating system is installed on. So, you can not wipe a partition which you currently use to to log in into Windows and run Disk Wipe from. You should access this partition from an operating system which is installed on another partition, disk drive or computer.

So you'll need to attach this drive to another computer, boot from that computer's drive and wipe your attached disk.  There are various methods of attaching your disk to that computer from finding another connection point in that computer (eg spare SATA connection) to using an external USB drive.
Michael PainterIT administrator Small Business Owner

Commented:
We usually do this with a bootable USB stick with a Linux or Windows PE OS on it.
DBAN was originally made for this and it still works.  But it is very old and there are many other suitable replacements.
There is no need to put in another computer, but make darn sure that you want all the data erased permanently...
Tom CieslikIT Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
Create Windows Boot USB flash drive using Windows media Creation Tool

https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/software-download/windows10

Start computer from drive.
Go to Troubleshoot, then run Command CMD
In command run:

diskpart
list disk
select disk 0 - I asume your HDD is Drive 0
clean


This will clean whole disk and all partitions

or you can use Reset PC option from Windows 10

Here you can see tutorial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LgHNRjiekQ
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Top Expert 2013

Commented:
may i ask why you want to wipe it?
normally you  do not need to do that - just install win 10 again, and delete the existing partitions during install
here a very good guide for you :  https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/1950-clean-install-windows-10-a.html
noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
Is it a SSD drive or HDD you want to wipe? Because for SSD the wipe is not used.
nociSoftware Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
@nobus:    Unless you are immediately using the system for your own other purposes a wipe is recommended.

@Author:
If you store the PC for indeterminate other use you have no idea if it gets tossed in the bin after a few months.. still possibly providing data.
NOTE: diskpart CLEAN does NOT wipe the disk, it just erases the partitioninfo:  
The clean command removes any and all partition or volume formatting from the disk with focus. On master boot record (MBR) disks, only the MBR partitioning information and hidden sector information are overwritten. On GUID partition table (GPT) disks, the GPT partitioning information, including the Protective MBR, is overwritten; there is no hidden sector information. The clean command will only mark the data on the disk as deleted, and will not zero (secure erase) the disk like the clean all command below.

For SSD: use encrypted disks and overwrite the key-store on the disk.  ==> sufficient to loose all data.    Writein the whole disk full of Zero's isn't that ease or sufficient because of the masked (unreachable) blocks needed on SDD's.   Trying to wipe the SSD will severly shorten the life of a drive.

For HDD's writing once with zero's is NOT sufficient because of remaning magnetism. A few wipes will be needed  with all 0, all 1 alternating paterns and random pattern to  loose the "off-center-track"  magnetic data.

Best:
To be completely sure use a heavy hammer to break the casing & chips (SDD) orcasing & platters (HDD)
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
@noci - why ?  he did not say why he wants to clean it -  so it may be not needed
so i'm waiting for some feedback of the askker to provide him with the  best advice

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all your suggestions.  What I’m doing is unusual but here it is:
Outlook Express is, in my opinion, the best email program ever devised.
I plan to use an older laptop, with an HDD, and Install Win XP and use
it exclusively for sending email.  First, I need to remove the Win 7 in order
 to install the XP.
nociSoftware Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
Deleting the partition table should be sufficient in this case. You will not need to wipe the whole disk.
If you can setup the disk as encrypted device it would be helpful in a future need to erase of protect the disk.

Be aware that all kinds of attacks might hijack your system it would bebest to separate admin tasks from the common user.
(no admin rights for the regular user). Als besure to make backups on off-line media  and keep several older backups for the setup.
Tom CieslikIT Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
So if you will start installing XP from scratch from USB or CD drive you'll get option to delete all partitions and create new one

Author

Commented:
Tom -
That's what I thought in the beginning  Unfortunately, when I try to install the
XP I'm told I can't do it because there is a more recent version of Windows
already installed. (the Win 7)
Tom CieslikIT Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
OK, so please run Windows 7 or Windows 10 installation, then go to command prompt, use diskpart and fallow instruction / steps

diskpart
list disk
select disk 0 - I assume your HDD is Drive 0
clean

then restart computer,, and start Windows XP installation on clean disk

Author

Commented:
The XP disk loaded files, then said there was no hard drive. I have
another Win 7 hard drive.  I'll see how I do with that one.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
is that a sata disk?  it can be it needs the controller driver
Tom CieslikIT Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
Yes, nobus has right,,, If you want to load Windows XP on new hardware then you must download OEM controller drivers for SATA controller.
This can be a challenge.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
best post motherboard model, then we can help better
nociSoftware Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
How about runnning a modern OS as Host and a VM guest with XP or Windows 7?
(VirtualBox is a good and for singleuser free VM environmnt).

At least it avoids a hunt for hardware drivers that may not exist/be vailable anymore.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
it may be much easier to look for an old - XP style era - motherboard, and use that
you can oftten find these on pc markets, and older equipment
Tom CieslikIT Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
If you do have CD with drivers from your motherboard,, open it and check if you can find drivers for older Windows version.
If you can then you can try to install Windows but in process of system start you must push F6 button and navigate to drivers location.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
what mobo are you using Glen ?
The xp installer has advanced options to customise the location whereyou will install xp. Simply use them. destroy and recreate the c partition. This will wipe the partition table or rather make the kernel ignore it and allow you to complete the install process. Note the drive will notactuallybe wiped, but that will allow the install to complete.

Author

Commented:
Nobus - "it may be much easier to look for an old - XP style era - motherboard"
I have a better idea.  I'll find another clean HDD and use it in one of my old
computers that shipped with XP.  (I was using win 7 in an XP computer)
Actually, I think I will do that and close this question.  I will get back to you all.
IT Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2017
Commented:
There is another option for you if you don't have OEM drivers. I did it long time ago
If you have other older computer and you can install Windows XP on it you can do it on new hard drive, then go to registry and delete ENUM Key from 3 locations
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet\Enum
and
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Enum
and
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet002\Enum

This will remove all information about drivers that was installed.
Then transfer disk to computer you want to use with windows XP and start.
Windows will install all default drivers, rest of it you can install from manufacture site
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
>>   I'll find another clean HDD and use it in one of my old computers that shipped with XP.   <<  that will probably be the easiest
don't forget to install the drivers; if you need more help, post the mobo model
XP works with sata drives but does not support AHCI out-of-the-box

you can disable AHCI in the bios, complete the installation, update the drivers, then reenable AHCI
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
probably they have IDE drives...

Author

Commented:
Tom -  you were right after all.  I put a clean disk in and got the same "no hard drive
detected" message after it loaded files. Obviously, the computer has an issue.  I put the
HDD, the one you helped me format, in another older laptop  - and had no trouble
with the installation.
the computer is fine. given the rest of the thread it worked before. your issue is the XP installer cannot use that hardware.

if the drive is SATA, this is likely because of AHCI which is not supported by XP and can be disabled in the BIOS.

if you are unlucky, XP cannot use that hardware at all.

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