Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21
  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    1,070
    Thanks
    42
    Thanked 132 Times in 86 Posts

    House Call 2013 Part 1: Sanitizing a drive




    TOP STORY

    House Call 2013 Part 1: Sanitizing a drive


    By Fred Langa

    The 2013 House Call series starts with a trip to Florida and a day spent helping Windows Secrets reader Pam Newberry with her PC problems.
    Coming from the Northeast, I found Sarasota refreshingly warm and green; but fixing Pam's PCs was a challenge multiple systems running various versions of Windows, each with different issues.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/house-call-2013-part-1-sanitizing-a-drive (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to Kathleen Atkins For This Useful Post:

    chauffeur2 (2013-02-13)

  3. #2
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Whyalla, South Australia
    Posts
    2
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Thumbs up

    Greetings Fred Langa,

    Thank you for a very informative article; I am looking forward to Part 2 and beyond.

    Kind Regards,
    Last edited by chauffeur2; 2013-03-01 at 07:41.

  4. #3
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Rockville, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    1
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Sanitizing a drive

    When I donate my computers to the recycle centers I first remove my hard disk and take a hammer to it. Much faster and more fun. No one can read the hard disk when I am done.

  5. #4
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    USB to IDE/SATA Adapter

    Great article as always. My only suggestion would be that if I didn't already have a USB to IDE/SATA Adapter and was going to buy one, I would invest in a USB 3.0 adapter. Yes, they are a little more expensive but not terribly so and with the increase in PCs that have USB 3.0 I think the speed increase would be worth it. It would still work with USB 2.0 only PCs so it would be useful both today and tomorrow, and you wouldn't be wishing that you had a 3.0 adapter the first time you interfaced with a PC with USB 3.0.

  6. #5
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    2
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Sanitizing a drive

    Since the system did not work anyway, one less hard drive in the donation wouldn't hurt! If you really wanted you give a semi-working system to the school, it would seem that replacing the old drive with a "new-old" drive and destroying the original would be a better use of time. Technicians time is money, and the price of old drives is usually minimal. Any OS license should be on the label on the machine.

  7. #6
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    England
    Posts
    18
    Thanks
    3
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    THank you for the article. I work in a tech recycle firm and we wipe around 50 drives a day. There are complications to consider. If the computer no loger works, the drive may be defective and have bad sectors. If this is the case some sectors may not be completely wiped and you may find that you should not sell it on when data may still be on it and that it may not work as intended for the buyer. When we find defective disks we degauss them, meaning we run them through a high powered electro magnet to wipe the data.

  8. #7
    Bronze Lounger
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Naples, Florida, USA
    Posts
    1,231
    Thanks
    40
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
    Thanks for a great article, Fred, and the helpful screen shots. Although I didn't "win" the House Call visit, this article and the upcoming one are almost exactly the tech help I was hoping for! Had never dreamed I could tackle a laptop hard drive myself.

    Our not-as-old-but-not-working-well HP laptop (2007) with Vista is really slow. I now feel brave enough to purchase the device you mentioned and try copying its drive contents to another location so I can be sure nothing of importance is left. Then, try to reformat the drive and use it (as Loungers have suggested in other threads) as another external backup or even see if there's enough oomph in it to upgrade to Windows 7 and put it to use again!

    Looking forward to part 2!

    Linda

  9. #8
    Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Nashville
    Posts
    92
    Thanks
    21
    Thanked 5 Times in 4 Posts
    Just an FYI caveat emptor: The Amazon page (for what appears to be the replacement for the original product at the link in the article) is chock full of 1-star ratings from people who literally fried their drives when they plugged in the power. It's hard to tell whether this was from bad adapter assembly or a power plug that could be pushed in backwards (despite the traditional shape designed to prevent this). Ouch!

  10. #9
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    1
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Couldn't you just run a strong magnet over the hard drive to make the contents and accessible?

  11. #10
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Chico, CA
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    2
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    I have found CCleaner to be slow at secure deletions of files so using it to scour a drive seems like it would not be the best tool for the job.

    I was recently sanitizing some drives at work and found Hardwipe (http://www.hardwipe.com/) which I found to be fast and efficient at it's job. It can securely delete files or sanitize a whole drive. I had been using Eraser to securely delete files on systems until I found this tool. Now I have one tool to do it all.

    Now if the drive is not working I would disassemble the drive and destroy the platters (bending, drilling or any other method you care to use) or drill holes through the drive thus making data recovery an impossibility. Drives are not that expensive the replace these days so it is a very secure way to dispose of the data without worry if you are in a hurry.

  12. #11
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Syracuse, NY
    Posts
    4
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Reading a Drive

    Fred's suggestion of using the ide/sata to usb converter is great. However, my kit, which seems similar, doesn't have the right connectors for some newer 2.5 sata drives. But I use an enclosure for an external 2.5 drive- pop the drive in the enclosure, plug the cable into the usb port, and off you go (not external power needed)! If you have Usb 3.0 on the PC & the enclosure, so much the better!

  13. #12
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Austin TX
    Posts
    3
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Faster, more secure wiping using hdparm

    For the last 4+ years, drive manufacturers have been including SECURE_ERASE in the drive firmware. Essentially all SATA and nearly all 40GB or larger PATA drives have on-drive firmware support for a fast, clean wipe. This is good because the drive manufacturer's know what it takes to wipe ALL of the drive, including the spare sectors - even on SSDs. Accessing SECURE_ERASE, however, takes low-level calls. I've only found utilities to trigger it on Linux (hdparm) and standalone floppy (HDDerase from UCSD).

    You can use a Linux-based CD/USB image from PartedMagic (free) and run either hdparm or the DiskErase graphical front-end for it to make life easier. DiskErase's 'Internal: Secure Erase' option actually makes calls to hdparm to trigger the drive's self-wipe. For those really old drives that don't support the SECURE_ERASE option, it can also do a conventional multi-pass CPU-based wipe but I've not needed to use them. Details on using hdparm can be found on the https://ata.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/ATA_Secure_Erase page.

    I've been using this technique for a few years now and find that nearly all drives are completely erased in 20-90 minutes, depending on size and type. Even 1TB drives only take about an hour.

    The major downside I've observed is that hdparm doesn't work through some USB adapters so you may need a desktop system with a suitable SATA/PATA port. I've also found some systems whose BIOS locks the drive at system boot time so I have to hot power-cycle just the drive after PartedMagic is fully booted to reset the lock status - then it works just fine.

    Give it a shot. I think you'll never look back to the CPU-based technique.

  14. #13
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Hinsdale, IL, USA
    Posts
    2,482
    Thanks
    176
    Thanked 152 Times in 129 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by Walter1927 View Post
    Couldn't you just run a strong magnet over the hard drive to make the contents and accessible?
    Not reliably with modern hard drive enclosures. They can block magnetic fields.And they are multi-platter, which can also prevent all platters from being degaussed (randomized).

    Looking forward to the next installment of this edition of House Call, I am already wondering:

    Why would anyone take a wonky, old Vista system and try to upgrade it to Windows 8? Wouldn't Windows 7 make more sense? Far less of a transition for the user, and more likely to succeed than going from Vista to Win 8. We shall see why Langa decided to go this route, I'm guessing.

    Due to multiple failures, I am recommending to folks with Vista-era computers not to try to move up to Windows 8. Besides the outright failures to successfully upgrade, trying to use Win 8 without multitouch is a miserable experience for most users.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2013-02-16 at 07:05.
    -- Bob Primak --

  15. #14
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Mich.
    Posts
    22
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    Similar to other's above: when faced with similar situation....I simply removed the drive (it can be replaced by a tech easily if need be; with a used or new cheap drive and probably larger capacity and longer expected life).....and kept the old drive as back-up data (from the old laptop) in case I ever need to go back and retrieve any data....using a disk-to-USB approach much like yours.
    My method is simple and serves an added backup purpose. And data is safe in my hands.

  16. #15
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Lakeview, AR
    Posts
    2
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    if the HD is not bad, don't destroy it. Just buy a USB case and use it as an external drive. Only about $10.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •