How to Wipe a Linux Hard Drive

Jul 22, 2020 Technical Article

The Linux operating system is a popular choice for home hobbyists and large data centers alike. Wiping all data using Linux “delete file” commands is necessary at equipment end of life, when a hard drive fails, or when a hard drive is proactively upgraded or replaced. To prevent simple file recovery, users need to delete files and overwrite them with random or encrypted data.

Let’s take a deeper look into the simplest ways to erase private and sensitive data in the Linux operating systems. 

Linux Delete Commands for Common Distributions 

You can use a standard Linux delete file command to selectively remove data, delete a directory in Linux, or completely wipe a hard drive. Of course, be cautious in using these commands or tools because once data is destroyed with a full disk wipe, it is unrecoverable by design. 

In most cases only a superuser can run these commands: 

Linux DD Command.

First, unmount the drive using the “sudo” unmount command, which allows you to specify the drive letter and partition number. Then use a 

• sudo dd if= of= [Options] 

command to overwrite the specified drive or partition. The dd command makes several passes over the hard drive, overwriting the data with zeros to make it difficult or impossible to recover. This process can take some time and may need to run overnight. 

Linux Shred Tool.

This tool will also overwrite data on a drive with random characters. The process is initiated with a command: 

• sudo shred [option] <target>

and is directed to a specific drive location. This process can also be a long one, so plan to let this run until it fully completes.

Linux Scrub Command.

This command is not available in most Linux distributions by default and may need to be installed. Like the others, it can be used to delete all files in a directory of Linux or to wipe entire drives. It overwrites data using patterns rather than random characters. Once installed on the system, it is called with this command: 

• sudo scrub [option] <target>

Linux Wipe Command.

Again, this command may need to be installed before it is available. The wipe command erases magnetic media and can also be used to wipe a disk in Linux or delete files from a Linux terminal.

The syntax used is: 

• sudo wipe [options] <target> 

More Efficient Options to Permanently Wipe a Linux Hard Drive 

There are other tools available that may make it easier to manage disk wipes for Linux systems. There are also some vulnerabilities to be addressed, including flash memory devices and older storage media such as tapes or floppy disks. For these reasons, many individuals and large data centers use third-party solutions for Linux data destruction. 

For instance, Blancco Drive Eraser can securely wipe data from all common operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. Blancco LUN Eraser can also run on a terminal and erase data on a machine without shutting it down.

Both use the fastest and most secure methods of overwriting data. And, because these solutions are regularly tested or certified, you can have full confidence that the wipe is verified and certified, complete and permanent.

Request a trial today for permanent Linux drive erasure, including the operating system, program files, sensitive data, and hidden partitions.

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