Need alternative ways to erase a hard drive?

I am currently trying to wipe the hard drive of my father's massively slow and unusable desktop computer.
It's only a couple of years old, and it's current operating system is Windows XP. The computer takes nearly 15 to start up to the log in screen (not that this matters, he can't remember his password anyway).

Anyway, I figured I'd erased his HD and gave him a clean install in an attempt to make the machine usable again.
Trying to reinstall Windows, though, I got a message that the computer didn't have enough free memory-- needed 512mb, but only had 200-something.

So much for that.

My next option was to use my Ubuntu USB, and install Ubuntu over Windows, or erase the HD using GParted.
I can get to the screen where I have the option to begin a live session, install onto hard drive, etc., but the computer is so bad that it freezes up attempting to do either of those things.

So I can't access the computer through the already installed OS, or through a live Ubuntu session.

I'm sure there are other ways to break into this thing and wipe it clean.
Maybe there's a way to erase it all though a command prompt window, or something?
Unfortunately I'm not too familiar with that sort of thing.

Any advice would be most helpful!
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More about need alternative ways erase hard drive
  1. If you really want to nuke it then all you should need is DBAN

    If you can't boot your Ubuntu though I'd have to suggest that you might have HW issues.
  2. +1 to hardware issues, start with a screwdriver and a can of compressed air.

    And try, try again, I've dealt with several machines that hung the first 4 or 5 times I tried to do something, but got it done on the 5th or 6th.

    Also it sounds like a memory failure, 256 megs of ram is nothing to a windows desktop, I had that much ram in a p3 a decade ago, so you may be looking at a mobo fail / new comp scenario.
  3. it would help if you posted your system specs.
  4. Thanks all, I did actually discover and DBAN and it worked fantastically. (only took 6 hours!)

    The computer definitely has hardware issues, unfortunately.

    I figured this when I couldn't even load Ubuntu session, but I was secretly hoping there was some kind of weird virus that had chewed up all of his memory or something, so I wouldn't have to crack it open. Haha, *sigh*...

    I don't really know the computer specs (It's one of those all-in-one towerless things, with a Gateway logo and a Pentium 4 processor sticker on the front), but 256MB RAM is ridiculous. Obviously that's not what the computer came with. It's fairly new.

    So, yep....I guess I will have to take a look inside and see what's up, clean it out a bit perhaps.
    Thanks guys. :D

    I opened this computer up, and there is literally 256mb of memory in it. One stick. 256MB.

  6. Well, since I'm here... Does anyone know a good Linux distro that will run well with only 256mb RAM?
    (Preferably something simple that an old fart who has only ever used Windows can get used to.)
  7. Puppy, DSL, Slax - all of them would work OK on a P4 with 256mb.
  8. Okay, one more question.

    I'm now attempting to get Puppy running on this computer. When I first started the CD, though, I had a display issue. I had to start up with the parameter pfix=nox and then run xorgwizard in order to see the screen once Puppy started.

    But that was fine, I got everything set up and whatnot, and did a frugal installation.

    The issue is, upon restarting and booting Puppy from the harddrive, it's having the same display issue. Except this time I don't have the same options that I did when booting from the CD, it just goes straight into the OS... Anyone know how I can pause the startup and run the wizard again...? I can't quite quite figure it out.
  9. on the grub screen press ESC or TAB so that you can add any kernel parameters that you desire. once you figure out what parameters to pass to the kernel then you can edit your grub bootloader to do it for you.
  10. I just wanted to let you guys know that I figured out my Puppy was a bad choice, as the version I had used was made for newer machines. But after a bit more experimenting I finally got everything running smoothly with Legacy OS, made for "ancient" hardware such as this. Looks great and works like a charm, I'm typing this from my dad's computer right now.

    I am victorious! Eat it, planned obsolescence!

    Thanks to everyone who gave me advice, you guys are great. :)
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