How to Wipe a Hard Drive Completely: Erase it!

Aug 08, 2017 Technical Article

There are many reasons why organizations need to wipe hard drives. Whether you want to repurpose the drives, resell them or completely remove the data before you physically destroy them, complete data removal is key to achieving data sanitization.

How to (Really) Erase a Hard Drive

  1. Back up anything you want to keep. When the hard drive erasure is complete, there will be no way to get anything on the drive back.
  2. Choose a specific data erasure standard, based on your industry and organization’s unique needs.
  3. Perform the data erasure according to the software’s instructions.
  4. The data erasure software will verify the overwriting methodology has been successful and removed data across the entire device.
  5. The data erasure software will produce a tamper-proof certificate containing information that the erasure has been successful and written to all sectors of the device, along with data about the device and standard used.

After following these steps, you can feel confident that the data is gone for good, and you’ve achieved data sanitization. Why is this the case?

You may already know that deleting data doesn’t completely remove that data; it only “hides” the data on a storage device. Until the data has been overwritten, it remains easily recoverable. So, if deleting isn’t how you completely remove data, you should wipe that data instead, right?

Wrong. Data wiping doesn’t achieve true data sanitization because it doesn’t include verification that the data is gone. To truly achieve data sanitization of drives, you must invest in software-based data erasure, physical destruction and/or verified cryptographic erasure.

Data Wiping vs. Data Erasure

The term data wiping is often used interchangeably with data erasure; however, there are core differences. Data wiping is the software-based method of overwriting data without verification that the software was successful in overwriting to all sectors of the storage device, and does not produce a certified report. Unlike data erasure, data wiping does not follow any erasure standards and does not offer any proof that the data is unrecoverable. Therefore, this method is not considered as an approved method for data sanitization.

What is Data Erasure?

Data erasure is the software-based method of securely overwriting data from any data storage device using zeros and ones onto all sectors of the device. By overwriting the data on the storage device, verifying the data has been erased and certifying that erasure with an erasure report, the data is rendered unrecoverable and achieves data sanitization.

Download the Blancco Drive Eraser product sheet.

Download Product Sheet