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How to Securely Erase All Data in Computer Hard Drive

Deleting all files on a hard drive doesn’t necessarily erase it for good. What’s actually being deleted are the file headers, which allow your computer to locate and access them. On deleting the files, they remain until they are replaced or overwritten by another saved file in the disk. These file headers can easily be reconstructed with the right tools later, and the files are still there. To securely erase files in a hard drive for good, you’ll either need a data destruction tool, reinstall the OS, or physically destroy the hard drive.

In this article, we will be going through three ways a hard drive can be securely erased. They’re all done with simple clicks, so it doesn’t matter which step you choose to practice; you’ll definitely get the job done.

Before we get on with it, you need to know that we always advise that all files are backed up before trying anything out. The last thing you want is permanently losing a file you may need in the future.

3 Ways to Securely Erase All Data in a Hard Drive

Using a Program to Erase the Drive

These days, securely erasing a hard drive has been made easy with the help of data destruction programs like DBAN, CBL Data Shredder, MHDD, PC DiskEraser, DiskGenius, etc. For this article, we will be using guides on DBAN as an example. It’s the most widely used, and others pretty much have the same interface. Some like DiskGenius, which are executable programs, are way easier to get done within few clicks.

Download DBAN and burn the ISO file in a bootable disk or flash drive. Restart the computer and boot into DBAN. You’ll see an interface (DBAN menu) allowing you to select actions. You ideally want to use the F3 key to take you to where you can select the type of formatting you want on your PC. Usually, the “dodshort” command is preferred and will get the job done. Other methods like the “gutmann” are overkill and will use much more time to complete. When it’s all don’t, you can then install windows on the empty drive.

Reinstallation of the OS

This is a faster way to erase all files in a computer, especially if you intend to give a PC to a close relative or friend. You basically need to reinstall the original operating system that the manufacturers pre-set.

Destroying the Hard Drive

This should always be a last resort if you can’t have access to the steps above, as, at the time, you needed the hard drive to be erased. You want to get the hard drive out of the computer and get it in contact with a rare earth magnet. A much easier way; dismantle the hard drive with a screwdriver.