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How To Erase a Hard Drive Image

written by: R.L. Flowers•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 9/20/2010

This article will show you how to erase a hard drive. Perhaps you're giving your computer away and want to erase everything. Maybe you are throwing it away and don't want anybody getting your information. Maybe you just want to wipe clean enough to make it unrecoverable. Here's how to do it!

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    Wiping out the Data on your Hard Drive- Getting Started

    wdfcaviargreen sata32 To explore the options laid out in this article, you'll need to download and burn a copy of the Ultimate Boot CD. The programs you'll need are all on this great boot disk. Boot up the CD on the computer that has the hard drive(s) that are to be wiped clean, and arrow down to the "Disk Wiping" option and press Enter.

    From here we'll explore the options given by each program on the Ultimate Boot CD.

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    Which Hard Drive Image Erasing utility will work best for You?

    In the menu that the Ultimate Boot CD gives you, you have eight options. Let's explore them all one by one. You can also go to the "Overview" section at Just scroll down to the "Overview" and then "Hard Disk Wiping."

    • Active@ KillDisk Free Edition. This program will overwrite the hard drive by replacing all data with Zero's. Hard drives store the information in a series of 0's and 1's. Writing 0's to the whole drive makes it undreadable. This can be undone, but it is a quick way to keep the data from the casual snoop.
    • CopyWipe. This can copy a hard drive, but it is also great at erasing drives. The options given range from simple (the same "zero" method as KillDisk) to insane, where the drive will be unrecoverable. The most secure options can take hours or days to complete.
    • Darik's Boot and Nuke. Its "autonuke" function gives the best results, according to the software. It also has a quick method, but it also has options that are up to standard with how the Department of Defense wipes their hard drives before destroying them. Again, methods range in time from minutes to days.
    • Fujitsu Erase Utility. This only works with Fujitsu drives and writes all 0's to the drive.
    • HDDErase. This program uses the hard drives built in "self destruct" method of wiping the drive. Most drives larger than 15GB support this feature. It is quite adequate for most needs.
    • MAXLLF. This is Maxtor's Low Level Format program only for Maxtor drives. Casual use only.
    • PC Inspector e-maxx. This works similarly to the "zero" method. Instead it writes 1's.
    • SUTIL. This is for Samsung drives only. It Low Level Formats the drives. This is fine for casual use.

    So there are the options for how to erase a hard drive image using software. There are more options to consider though.

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    Physical Destruction

    The simple "do it yourself" methods of physical destruction are many and varied. There's Death By Sledgehammer, Death By Torch, Death by Target Practice... you get the idea. This Author doesn't endorse any one type, but if you want it gone for good, feel free to get creative.

    If you want a more professional route, check out your local document shredding companies. Many of them offer services for destroying hard drives securely. There are machines (hard drive shredders) that are made just for this purpose.

    So there you have it. Plenty of options are available for free depending on your desired outcome. Hopefully this article has demystified the process of erasing your hard drive image.