The Windows Recycle Bin has saved many a person who deleted files and quickly regretted having done so. The ability to recovery deleted files is a welcome feature. But what if you really want to completely wipe a file or drive so that it is unrecoverable? Most people would simply reply that all you have to do is empty your Recycle Bin. The truth is that it is much harder to completely delete a file. In fact, it is extremely hard to do if one does not have the proper tools.
Data can indeed be recovered long after it has been erased. If you want to know the technical details about this, check out Peter Gutmann’s seminal paper on the topic, “Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory,” at ww.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/secure_del.html.
In technical terms, these topics deal with the concept of data remanence, which is that data will continue to reside on a drive, even though it has been presumably erased. The security issue with data remanence is that it can easily make disclosure of confidential data possible if one gets physical access to the drive. To counteract the problem of data remanence, drive wiping was created to permanently remove all data.
There are many ways to permanently make data unavailable. The most drastic is the actual destruction of the drive. A less drastic way is to use software such as DriveScrubber 08 to wipe the disk such that any sort of data recovery is impossible. This need is so significant that the US Department of Defense created a standard (DoD 5220.22-M) on how to permanently wipe data, and DriveScrubber supports that.
Last year, security researcher Simson Garfinkel purchased a number of used computers on eBay. On those hard drives that were not wiped, he found thousands of credit-card numbers and financial records, along with medical information, trade secrets, and other highly personal information.
The bottom line is that if you have personal data on a storage device, you need to wipe it before you trash it.
Price to Value (5 out of 5)
At $29.95, DriveScrubber is very reasonably priced. For that price, you can install the software on up to three computers. This makes it $10 per computer, which is extremely reasonable. There may be free software to do the job, but none as easy to use as DriveScrubber.
Installation & Setup (4 out of 5)
- Standard, easy-to-use Windows installation. [Images 1-4]
- Easy to customize. [Image 20]
- In the license field, you have to enter a user name. Most users will likely enter their name. This won’t work unless you enter the user name given to you by the vendor. While is is detailed in the help screen, many users will likely make this mistake.
- DriveScrubber requires Internet access to validate the license. [Image 5]
User Interface (5 out of 5)
- Interface is clear and very easy to navigate since DriveScrubber only does data wiping [Image 6] Disk analysis and drive overview [Image 12] Wizard guides you step by step [Image 7-9] DriveScrubber requires you to acknowledge in writing that you want to proceed to wipe the drive [Image 10] Gives you one last warning about the destructive wiping act about to occur [Image 19]
Help & Support (3 out of 5)
Technical support trouble tickets are not responded to in a reasonable timeframe. I sent in three tickets but never got a reply.
F1 brings up help screen. [Image 14]
Help provides a significant amount of valuable information.
Email confirmation of technical support ticket submission. [Image 15]
Good technical support information on web page. [Image 16]
Before technical support ticket is submitted, answers to similar issues are given. [Images 17-18]
Product Features (5 out of 5)
When wiping the free space of a local hard drive, did not provide estimated time to complete. [Image 13]
No easy way to cancel out of the action in Image 13; no exit or cancel functionality. Pressing the Escape key stops the program, but this is not listed in the help.
Permanently wipes entire device of all files, documents, personal data, and more.
Permanently wipes just the free space of a device, while keeping existing files and operating system intact.
Ability to wipe external drives, USB storage, etc.
Supports DoD 5220.22-M specification.
Adjustable security levels for drive-wiping procedures.
Supports Windows Vista.
Performance (4 out of 5)
- Even though DriveScrubber uses optimized methods for data wiping, expect this to take a number of hours if you have a large drive.
- A 4 GB thumb drive took roughly 90 minutes to completely wipe. [Image 11] I tried a similar routine with PGP and it took about the same amount of time.
Security & Privacy (5 out of 5)
- Ability to permanently erase files, documents, or the entire drive.
- I wiped a thumb drive and then used OnTrack Easy Recovery Professional. It was not able to see a single deleted bit.
- Supports U.S. Department of Defense 5220.22-M specification.
- Overwrites deleted data with up to 100 passes (note that the DoD standard is for seven passes).
- Ability to use custom pattern wiping.
- An easier and more informative way to cancel out of a wiping action.
- Confirmation that you want to cancel the wipe operation.
- Quicker response to tech support questions.
The need to properly wipe data is so important that there is an organization created around it–the National Association for Information Destruction (www.naidonline.org). Without wiping tools such as DriveScrubber 08, it is nearly impossible to effectively wipe your drives clean of confidential data. If you buy and sell computers, or if you need to remove data that you want no one to see, it is imperative to use wiping tools that make data recovery impossible. If your drives get into the wrong hands, they may use data recovery software to get to your data. If you wipe the drive first, all their efforts will be for naught. Once your effectively wipe the drive, all data from every sector will have been eliminated.
DriveScrubber 08 does what it does and does it well. Get it and you will have peace of mind.
PGP, Darik’s Boot and Nuke, Dtidata Disk Wipe, Blancco Pro, WhiteCanyon WipeDrive, LSoft Technologies [email protected] KillDisk, Nova Drive Erase Pro