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Wiping single/multiple Hard drives

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September 20, 2010 2:26:23 PM

Hello all, I have about 2,000 old IDE hard drives that I have to wipe. I have a usb to IDE adapter and found a free program online that will wipe the drives...but I was hoping to find a system to wipe multiple hard drives simultaneously or at least one after the other in some sort of automatic function.

Is there a way this can be done? Doing them one at a time will take....well, too long. Any advice on software/adapters/ideas/anything would be extremely helpful. If you are talking about a product an amazon or newegg link would also be very helpful.

Thank you!
a c 342 G Storage
September 20, 2010 4:13:45 PM

Unfortunately, time is going to be consumed BIG TIME!

The best you might get away with is having several such adapters and connecting several IDE drives to your computer at once, and then manually going through and running multiple instances of the software to wipe each connected drive. HOWEVER, that depends a LOT on how the "wipe" is done.

The simplest "wipe" is just to Delete any and all Partitions that exist on a HDD. That can be as simple as re-writing the Partition Table to be empty, or even overwriting the MBR and Partition Table location on the HDD with zero's. Those sorts of operations can take little time per HDD, so trying to handle several at once might be practical. That depends on whether the software you got can keep multiple instances of itself and multiple USB adapters all straight.

The trouble with a "simple" wipe like that is that all the data is still on the HDD, and other software designed to recover files from corrupted HDD's can find it and recover it. The only way to ensure that it cannot be recovered is to do a Zero Fill of the whole HDD. That means writing zero's to every piece of the HDD to replace its former data. Such an operation can take a LONG time - like, an hour or two per 100 GB of HDD capacity. If you need that level of "wipe" AND if your software can do this, you see what I mean about using up BIG time for 2,000 HDD's. For perspective, one person working 5 x 8 hours = 40 hours per work week, 50 weeks in a year (10 days' holidays in the year), works 2,000 hours. If it took only one hour of zero-filling per HDD, it would take someone a whole year to do it!

Just why do you need to wipe? And how un-recoverable do you need? And, what is to be done with the wiped old drives? If your task really is to dispose of these devices permanently in such a way that their data could not possibly be recovered, the low-tech way is MUCH better and faster. Crush them! Use a heavy hammer to smash each unit so the case is broken, and the inside disks are broken. Maybe you and your friends can turn this into a stress-relief party!
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February 13, 2012 11:16:04 AM

There are sophisticated solutions out there for this. I humbly recommend buying some hot swappable IDE HDD test bays on amazon, and hooking them up to a bare motherboard with 256 MB of RAM and booting from some of your cheaper HDDs.

The motherboard would have 4 to 8 such bays connected to it, and could just use a perl or bash script to run down the list, wiping and formatting as it goes.

PM me or respond for further details. I will soon have to deal with the same issue, and the above is pretty much as far as I have gotten with planning.
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a c 103 G Storage
February 13, 2012 3:15:45 PM

EDIT Just noticed the original date of the post... Why do people search for almost 2 yr old topics!!!

In my experience, the USB to IDE connectors tend not to work well. I got maybe 25% of the drives I use with them to show up in the system. Depending on your budget you can get a multi-drive station like this http://www.ics-iq.com/ or http://www.logicube.com/products/hd_duplication/

Time you save using this will probably be worth it. What you may want to do is to wipe one drive, then clone that drive to the rest if the software on the stations don't have a "wipe" options.

Using a PC with a bunch of drive bays will work also but will be slower.

If the drives will not be re-used, just bring them to a junkyard and have them crush or shred them. You'll save a few hundred hours of work at least.
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