Securely erasing your hard drive

April 11th, 2008 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags:

In my attic there is an ancient computer desktop that is long past its sell by date and it is time to take it to the tip to be recycled. Before I do this though, I want to ensure that all of the data is securely removed from the hard drive. As many people know, just deleting the files is not enough as they will still be on the hard drive – your operating system will just pretend that they are not.

So what to do? Well, my solution was to use a Ubuntu Live CD to boot into Linux, open a terminal and issue the following command

shred -v -z /dev/hda

This wrote random data to the entire hard drive 25 times and then finished with a set of zeros. That’s pretty deleted!

I have heard that even with this level of ‘shredding’ it would still be possible for someone with suitable equipment (such as an AFM) and sufficient determination to get access to at least some of your old files but I am betting that such equipment is expensive and hard to obtain. I also can’t imagine why anyone would go to such lengths to view my old data – its not THAT interesting!

Essentially all I am trying to do here is stop the casual snooper from easily finding out what was on that hard disk and I think that the shred command does exactly that!

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