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Old 09-29-2013, 07:38 AM   #1
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Default Question about wiping a HDD

Hey,
I just built a new PC, installed the OS and a few of my most used programs to an SSD. I'm a bit short on cash at the moment and can't afford to buy a HDD for everything else. I have an old HP Pavillion that's about 4 years old with a 1TB HDD in it. It has the OS and everything else still on it. I was wondering if there is a way to remove the OS and everything on it and put it into my new build? It would save me some change.
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:47 AM   #2
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Default Re: Question about wiping a HDD

Yes you can just take the hard drive out of the HP and install it into your new PC provided it has enough drive bays and then once your OS launches format the drive or use something like DBAN which will nuke the drive and everything on it making it impossible to recover the data Darik's Boot And Nuke | Hard Drive Disk Wipe and Data Clearing
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Old 09-29-2013, 04:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: Question about wiping a HDD

Just throw it in your new machine and it'll appear in My Computer as another drive, you can format it there.

You can use some tool to format it if you want, but a simple low level format (1 pass) from Windows is enough to make most recovery tools useless.
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Old 09-29-2013, 09:53 PM   #4
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If you have sensitive information on it and want to wipe that off, you need to use something like dban or software that will write over the data bit by bit. Simply formatting the hard drive in windows won't get rid of your data.

However, if all you want is to use the drive for storage space and you don't have sensitive data on it, you will be fine to pop it in your computer and format it.
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Old 09-30-2013, 06:57 AM   #5
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Default Re: Question about wiping a HDD

Quote:
Originally Posted by SethWilliams View Post
If you have sensitive information on it and want to wipe that off, you need to use something like dban or software that will write over the data bit by bit. Simply formatting the hard drive in windows won't get rid of your data.
It does if you don't select Quick Format, the difference between this and dban is that you can specify the number of passes it will use.

But any more than 1 (Windows format) is just for the more paranoid because a simple low level format (1 pass) is enough to render 99% of tools useless. Only the most sophisticated tools that use complex sequence building algorithms (that aren't generally available for public use) can make any sense of low level format, but even this would literally take years for a reasonably large hard drive since it's such a lengthy process, so lengthy in fact that the time taken wouldn't be worth the information it might (but most likely not) recover.
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Old 09-30-2013, 10:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: Question about wiping a HDD

I work in a computer forensics lab and have been able to recover a significant amount of data from drives that have been formatted 2 or 3 times. There is software that will let you do this in a short period of time - I use about a $4,000 software package for computer forensics, but there is free software that can do simple data recovery like that and it doesn't usually take more than a day or two. The only sure-fire way to not have your data recovered (unless for some reason the FBI was investigating your hard drive) is to use a media wiper or a piece of software that writes over every single 0 and 1 with all 0's. If not, there is plenty of space left to recover things from, like RAM Slack, File Slack, and Unallocated Space to name a few.

Also, I believe the US government requires their IT Departments to format a drive 7 times to ensure that the data from it has been wiped. I know in the Army a drive must be formatted 21 times to be considered safe.

Anyway, unless you are dealing with sensitive information that you don't want anyone to ever have a chance of finding, you will be just fine with a Windows format.
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Old 10-01-2013, 06:06 AM   #7
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Default Re: Question about wiping a HDD

A 20lb sledge hammer will make sure your drive can't be read.

Seriously though you can get the tools from the drive maker's website to do what is called a recertify. Like was explained with writing all 0's to the drive, this software will do just that. Do that a couple of times and relatively speaking everything should be gone. Depending on the size of the drive is how long it's going to take.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:44 AM   #8
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Default Re: Question about wiping a HDD

Quote:
Originally Posted by Venus View Post
Just throw it in your new machine and it'll appear in My Computer as another drive, you can format it there.

You can use some tool to format it if you want, but a simple low level format (1 pass) from Windows is enough to make most recovery tools useless.
I agree that, for the OPs intended use as extra storage space, a simple Windows quick format will be sufficient.

I think Venus is using the wrong term, he means a full format, not a low-level format. There is no way to perform a low-level format on a modern drive installed in a system without special software. Low-level formatting is performed prior to partitioning and is typically done at the factory using specialized equipment and software.

In the early days of hdds, it was required to first perform a low-level format which required running DOS debug from the command line and accessing a low-level format routine embedded in the BIOS of the disk controller. After the low-level format was completed, then you could proceed with fdisk to partition the drive and finally use the OS's format routine to format the drive for use with the OS.

Low-level formatting a drive was no longer required (or possible by the end user without special software) once IDE drives came along.
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