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Selling Hard Drive-One Wipe Enough?

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August 11, 2007 1:32:45 AM

I am selling my old computer. I used it for work so I had some client files on it..nothing major..plus I had some personal files on it..tax returns..etc..

I am selling it to a neighborhood kid. I used eraser and used the GUTTMAN method on individual files on the hard drive..I then used eraser twice (single pass with cluster tips) to erase the unused space on my drive..I then copied and pasted movies onto the hard drive to capacity twice before deleting them..

I then used DBAN and used the PRNG with one wipe to wipe the drive clean. I did that because I was not sure how to permanently delete my outlook e-mail files.. I wouldn't have done the above things if I had remembered about outlook before..I would have just used DBAN from the beginning...I totally forgot about outlook and was unsure where to look to permanently delete them.

Is that enough to scrub my drive clean for all intents and purposes? I don't think the kid is a hacker..don't think he has an electron microscope lol..seems to be a pretty good kid..anything I should worry about?

Jim
August 11, 2007 2:02:53 AM

Sounds like you did a pretty good job of cleaning the disc. By copying movies until the drive was full and then formatting, the contents of the disc would be pretty well scrambled. As far as Outlook is concerned, when I did this in the past and hooked up a new computer, all the Outlook files were still present when I got my browser going. Unless you specifically saved them to hard disc files, they simply stay in on-line folders.

Since this is a neighborhood kid to whom you're selling the drive, you can have some fair confidence that all he's going to do is fill it with games and such, which in turn will further obliterate any data that you had on the disc.
August 11, 2007 2:27:22 AM

jamesrwright said:
I then used DBAN and used the PRNG with one wipe to wipe the drive clean.


Data is gone.

Unless the kid knows the guys at the NSA/CIA/FBI that have the scanning tunneling electron microscopes, the data ain't coming back.
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August 13, 2007 4:55:18 AM

Formating in Windows does not zero-write! It just scans for bad sectors, and zero-writes the meta-data area. Nothing more.

Use a zero-writing application (might be on Ultimate Boot CD) or use something like Eraser which can random-write free space on a disk. It's opensource, google for it.
August 13, 2007 5:22:13 AM

enlightenment said:
Formating in Windows does not zero-write! It just scans for bad sectors, and zero-writes the meta-data area. Nothing more.

Use a zero-writing application (might be on Ultimate Boot CD) or use something like Eraser which can random-write free space on a disk. It's opensource, google for it.


Did you even read the OP's post before spouting off?
August 13, 2007 5:29:15 AM

I think you'd give the CIA a hard time getting data off your drive...
August 13, 2007 6:04:56 AM

Dayam. That sounds INTENSE!
Rly... unless ur at risk of the FBI (etc) getting ur pornz and busting u, id say a "zero fill" would be enuf.

Many HDD Co's have a 'low level format' util, which is a BS term cos only the factory can REALLY do that, but a ZF is exactly that. Fills the drive with zeroes!!

After that u format.

If the kid wants to pay ~5k+ for pro data recovery im sure they would have a hard time too.
August 13, 2007 6:42:47 AM

How can zero fill not be enough?
a b G Storage
August 13, 2007 8:24:55 AM

enlightenment said:
Formating in Windows does not zero-write! It just scans for bad sectors, and zero-writes the meta-data area. Nothing more.

Use a zero-writing application (might be on Ultimate Boot CD) or use something like Eraser which can random-write free space on a disk. It's opensource, google for it.


err wtf

Formatting in windows clears the tables the hdd uses to store and alocate files, it doesnt remove actual files, where as a full format may, writing zero's fills the drive with zeros and all of the above, data can still be recovered, iv seen it with my own eyes, what you need to get is something like hiren's boot cd and there are tools that are specifically for things like this (and even government grade tools).

Best of luck mate ;) 
August 13, 2007 1:57:56 PM

Eraser uses random data and can do up to 35-passes so that would definately make recovery virtually impossible with today technology. Many people think a format also uses zero-writing but this is not true, fortunately the TS has done more than that, still its relevant to mention here.
a b G Storage
August 13, 2007 2:42:15 PM

Guys, thank you for a very entertaining topic. Learnt a few things too. However, is it really worth all this effort and worrying? Why not just take the disk out and destroy it. A few good kicks with a hammer, whatever. OK, it will mean getting $50 or $100 less for the PC, but your time is worth something too, isn't it?

August 13, 2007 3:03:04 PM

Sure but with utilities you can wipe it with just a few minutes of your time (you dont have to stare at the monitor all the time). Plus its a waste of good functioning hardware which i think you should not destroy - that would go against my feeling of good practise with regard to our environment.
August 13, 2007 3:07:40 PM

The reason is he is giving it to a neighborhood kid or selling for a cheap price. It's not that big of a deal to download a tool to thoroughly wipe the drive.

Personally, I never sell drives, I open them and phyiscally destroy the platters before disposing of them, but that's usually overboard.

Note: The hammer trick may not destroy the platters or the data on them. Drive data can be worth alot of money if they can swipe enough info to steal your identity.

I've been offered $$$ from people asking to buy my dead hdd's when I list my old PC's w/o a HDD on ebay. I just laugh that they offer me more money than a new one would cost.
August 13, 2007 3:10:37 PM

enlightenment said:
Use a zero-writing application (might be on Ultimate Boot CD) or use something like Eraser which can random-write free space on a disk. It's opensource, google for it.


If you read all that the OP wrote,you would find the statement "I used eraser and the Guttman method on individual files on the hard drive..I then used eraser twice". In other words, taking what he wrote as fact, he used eraser. He also filled the disc with movies to the disc's capacity, deleted them, and then used DBAN and PRNG to wipe the disc. If there's anything left that's readable on that disc, it would take a whole lot more equipment and money then a neighborhood kid would have.
August 13, 2007 3:27:36 PM

Several years ago, we would (where I work) use a program to zero-write the disk 7 times before it was reused anywhere.
Now we just shred all the platters.
If there's anything on a hard disk that you don't want anyone to ever get their hands on, then just destroy it. I wouldn't trust any amount of software overwriting to protect it.
a b G Storage
August 13, 2007 3:27:39 PM

zenmaster said:
The reason is he is giving it to a neighborhood kid or selling for a cheap price. It's not that big of a deal to download a tool to thoroughly wipe the drive.

Personally, I never sell drives, I open them and phyiscally destroy the platters before disposing of them, but that's usually overboard.

Note: The hammer trick may not destroy the platters or the data on them. Drive data can be worth alot of money if they can swipe enough info to steal your identity.

I've been offered $$$ from people asking to buy my dead hdd's when I list my old PC's w/o a HDD on ebay. I just laugh that they offer me more money than a new one would cost.


Yeah, that's what they usually recommend in articles and books about identity theft or computer security. I don't think we're alone with this approach...

OP, if you do destroy the disk physically tell your clients about it. The cost will be worth it if they feel better about the way you protected their files :) 
August 13, 2007 3:52:32 PM

sailer said:
If you read all that the OP wrote,you would find the statement "I used eraser and the Guttman method on individual files on the hard drive..I then used eraser twice". In other words, taking what he wrote as fact, he used eraser. He also filled the disc with movies to the disc's capacity, deleted them, and then used DBAN and PRNG to wipe the disc. If there's anything left that's readable on that disc, it would take a whole lot more equipment and money then a neighborhood kid would have.

And you should read my posts, since im not responding to the TS at all. I'm only stating relevant information to this topic, useful for others. The TS has already made recovery impossible so my comments are not directly relevant to him (only as a confirmation that he done a good job - maybe). NOFI :) 
August 13, 2007 4:45:27 PM

In that case, perhaps you should have been more clear in your initial statement that what the OP did was a good job and the rest was for general information to anyone else who looked in at the conversation. That would have stopped confusion from occuring with everyone else. As it was, being that you wrote this in the third overall reply to the OP, it seemed that you were telling the OP that what he did was insufficient.
August 13, 2007 4:57:13 PM

I'm sorry for being unclear.
August 13, 2007 5:09:30 PM

As long as those weren't boot-legged movies I suppose you'll be fine. If the MPAA comes knocking, just be polite and then go kill your neighbor the moment they leave.
August 13, 2007 5:26:50 PM

I usually put my old hard drive on a railroad and wait for a train. Then I pick up all the pieces and burn them with a blowtorch till they look like chunks of charcoal. Then I take them to the open sea on my boat and throw them around. In the middle of the night, of course, so that no one can see what I'm doing. You can never be too careful, really.

Sorry, I had to write this. This thing with physically destroying your HDD just seems a bit extreme to me. But if it makes you sleep better then I guess it's OK.
August 13, 2007 5:37:18 PM

Rolenio you must have kiddy porn on your disks or something :ouch: 

Security okay, but you can also over-exaggerate. A good wipe ought to be enough really. Unless you're a member of Al Qaeda. :D 
August 13, 2007 8:10:08 PM

On a continuing note concerning old hard drive, for the OP and anyone else, I've never sold or destroyed a working hard drive. Rather than to worry about loosing information or letting others know what I had on file, I just slave the old hard drive to another computer, delete anything I don't need and then use the old drive for storing general data.

Only when a drive completely fails do I get rid of it, and then a couple blows with a sledge hammer takes care of any questions about its usability. Maybe I'm just not all that paranoid over what's on the drive or I just figure that there are generally few people around who are really all that interested, rich, and have access to the equpment necessary to recover files from the drives.
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