Every once in a while I need to securely wipe a hard drive before it’s sold on. To do this I use Darik’s Boot and Nuke. DBAN is a free, bootable application that allows you to securely erase a hard drive so that no one can recover any of the data that’s on it.

Why should you use DBAN?

If you’re selling your hard drive on eBay, or anywhere else, it’s vital that the data is completely erased as many buyers are scouring for personal data left on hard drives. A format using fdisk is not enough, as a standard format only marks the data as erased – it’s still there, it’s just been hidden from view; and by using readily available tools, it’s incredibly easy to un-hide that data and do whatever you want with it. Securely erasing data is especially important if your decommissioned hard drive has any sensitive data on it – and it’s safe to say that if you care about your privacy, or you’re running a business, most data is sensitive!

Using DBAN

You can boot DBAN from a CD/DVD or a USB drive. Once it’s booted, simply choose a wipe method, and how many rounds of wiping you’d like to perform. From my research online, I’ve found that using a PRNG (Pseudo-Random Number Generation) wipe 8 times over, is the most secure for modern hard drives. Apparently the Guttman (35 round wipe) isn’t as effective on modern drives.

Here’s the basic steps you need:

  • Burn the .iso file to a CD (you can use something like ImgBurn)
  • Boot up DBAN, and hit Enter to run in Interactive Mode.
  • Press the M Key to choose the Method: Scroll down to PRNG and hit Space.
  • Press the R Key to choose the Rounds: For high security we need 8 rounds, so replace 1 with 8.
  • Hit F10 to start, and wait until done.
Securely Erasing a Hard Drive with DBAN

Written by Phil Wiffen

Phil is an IT Professional working in Cambridge, England. He generally blogs about useful solutions that he comes across in his work/play.

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