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  1. #1
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    My daughter works for a non-profit organization that has some old servers they would like to give away or dispose of but they want to clean off the hard drives before releasing them. I volunteered to try to do the cleanup. I've been a computer programmer and user for many years but I don't really know anything about servers!

    The first server is a Dell PowerEdge 2600 running Windows Server 2003. It will boot up to the login screen OK but I don't know the login ID or password. It has a floppy drive (A and I have an old boot disk so I tried that and it does boot up on the floppy but I couldn't get it to recognize any drive letters other than A: and B: and B: appears to also be removable disc drive if it exists at all. This old boot disk contains a System Analyser utility and it tells me that there is a NTFS hard drive.

    I had hoped to be able to create a boot floppy with a disk wiping program on it and use that to wipe the disk. I don't currently have any way to create a floppy (!) on my modern laptop but I'll look for a way if it is somewhat likely to be successful.

    If I do create a boot floppy with the desired program on it do you think I will be able to access the hard drive and write to it under these conditions?

    Any suggestions on how to proceed will be greatly appreciated.

    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillWilson View Post
    If I do create a boot floppy with the desired program on it do you think I will be able to access the hard drive and write to it under these conditions?

    Any suggestions on how to proceed will be greatly appreciated.
    If you have an install CD from any version of Windows you could start an install and format the drive.

    Joe
    Joe

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    There is no CD drive so that is not an option. I am also hoping to do more than just format the drive. I have read on the web about various programs that will overwrite so my intention is to use one of the techniques I've seen there.

    This server does have USB connectors so I guess another conceivable possibility is to get it to boot up on a bootable flash drive. However, I don't know if there is any way to get it to do that.

    I really need to learn more about what might lock me out of the hard drive, if anything, if I am able to boot up on something else that is equipped to access the drive.

    Thanks for the reply.
    Bill

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    If the server has a RAID controller you can break the array and re-configure it as a different type. This will reformat the drives. Do this a couple of times to make sure the disks have been re-written, then break the array and leave the disks as independent disks.

    If you have a USB connected CD you may be able to plug it in and boot from that.

    A search for "boot cd" will return a number of images that have HD erase tools.

    cheers, Paul

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    If you need to get to the Administrator password, one of the tools that usually works is the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor.

    For clearing all the data off the hard disk, try DBAN. Be warned that this very thorough data clearing can take more time than you ever thought possible...

    Both are run from bootable CDs, and if you know how to make a bootable USB Flash Drive, you should be in with a chance.

    (As an alternative, if you'd like to ship the Dell PE2600 to the UK, our charity could use it next to our own Dell PE2600-III running WS2003 - provided we can stand the combined fan noise - and you wouldn't even need to wipe the operating system off! )

    PS Are you really, really, sure that it doesn't have a DVD/CD drive? Not having one on a server would be almost unprecedented in my experience. External DVD/CD drives which have a USB connection are available, at around 50+ over here - so about $30 over there, in the perverse way that things are.)
    BATcher

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    If you want to wipe the drive totally clean, with all the sectors overwritten, so no recovery is possible then

    A) Some manufacturers (eg Seagate) provide a "wipe to zeroes" utility - sometimies called (wrongly) a low level format. For Seagate drives you find it in the Seatools download.

    B) KillDisk and DBan also have free versions which do a similar thing - google for them. I've used KillDisk frequently, and we use it in our local computer recycling project.

    In both cases you make a floppy disk and boot from it - then the utility runs (usually with an built-in DR-OS version). You'll probably have to go into the BIOS and change the boot sequence to talk to the diskette drive first, unless the systems are already set this way.

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    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    No need to Google for DBAN - there's a link in the previous post.
    And I'll bet if their server doesn't have a CD drive it probably doesn't have a diskette drive either!
    BATcher

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    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BATcher View Post
    No need to Google for DBAN - there's a link in the previous post.
    And I'll bet if their server doesn't have a CD drive it probably doesn't have a diskette drive either!
    It does appear to have a floppy drive! That's a start.
    ----------------------------------------
    From the original post:
    " It has a floppy drive (A and I have an old boot disk so I tried that and it does boot up on the floppy but I couldn't get it to recognize any drive letters other than A: and B:"
    ----------------------------------------
    BOB
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  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the useful info from everyone!

    Paul: The online spec does say that it has a RAID and that it has six 1 inch drives. I'm afraid I don't know anything about RAIDs. If I boot up on floppy or CD will the RAID interfere with my desire to overwrite all the drives?

    BATcher: You are right, a server would certainly be expected to have a CD or DVD drive and this one does -- I finally found it! I'm going to use your suggestion to try to break the password with the program you refered me to. DBAN is one of the programs I read about last week and the one I think I will use to overwrite the drives.

    David: I also had read about KillDisk and that is another program I might use.

    I have already booted up on the floppy drive so now I'll have to check and see if it will also boot up on the CD drive. If not, I'll see if I can change the BIOS to make that work.

    Thanks for all the info. Anything more about RAID will be a big help.

    Bill

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    OK, I have downloaded the password editor at http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/ and burned a CD and booted up with it. It seemed to go through the steps correctly. It says this server has two users, Administrator and Guest. I had it clear the password for the Adminstrator and then I rebooted. The login would not accept a blank password for the Administrator user (I tried a couple of times) so I rebooted to the utility and this time when I told it to clear the password the utility said that the password had a BLANK password. So, I ran the utility again and tried to edit the password to something I could login with but it said that it couldn't find a password to edit.

    Does anyone have any idea how I can get past this point?

    Thanks,
    Bill

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    Have you tried from Safe Mode? I'm thinking this may be a Domain-related problem now or possibly a Group Policy restriction, are there any more clues you can give?

  13. #13
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    Well I finally got it into Safe Mode -- apparently I wasn't pressing F8 at the right time for a while -- and it still rejected the blank password. I'm inclined to go ahead and create a bootup CD with the disk overwrite utility on it and let it do its thing. The only thing I'm curious about is whether or not that process will actually overwrite all the hard drives in this RAID environment?

    Thanks for the Safe Mode reminder.
    Bill

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    The RAID config is available at boot - there will be a message on the screen telling you to press Alt R, or something, to enter the RAID set up.

    cheers, Paul

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    OK, I've looked for the RAID setup and I can't find it. When I boot up I see two kinds of interruption facilities:

    1. This is displayed during the whole bootup process:
    F2 = setup
    F10 = Utility Mode
    F12 = PXE Boot

    Maybe the RAID setup is in there but I haven't recognized it.

    2. A couple of prompts are displayed to tell you how to interrupt things to do something:

    "Press Ctrl A to enter LSI Logic Configuration Utility"
    "Press Ctrl A to enter SCSI Configuration"

    I stepped through both of these areas and did not recognize anything related to the RAID setup. I imagine I'm just not recognizing the area to look in so maybe you can help me out.

    Now, a related question: If I boot up on a utility that doesn't do any RAID setup will RAID still be activated or will that avoid it all together?

    I'm still puzzled by the fact that when I booted up on an old utility on a floppy a few days ago I could not get any response to any drive letter except the A: prompt where the utility started up.

    Thanks for helping.
    Bill

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