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Securely format your hard drive

technologyEdward KiledjianComment

Many readers will buy new computers and laptops during the upcoming holiday season and some wil sell their older products. For the security minded, nothing is more important than protecting your personal information so here is a quick suggestion on how to securely format your hard drive.

Formatting your hard drive is the only way to ensure your personal information is unrecoverable by the new owners. This advice applies to anyone that is using a mechanical hard drive (aka not an SSD). If you are selling a Windows based computer (or Linux) then my favorite tool is Darik's Boot and Nuke (affectionately called DBAN). 

The process is simple. 

  1. Download the DVD image and burn it onto a DVD disc
  2. Reboot your PC and make sure it starts from the DVD
  3. Your computer now boot into DBAN
  4. Choose the drive
  5. Choose how many times sector should be overwritten (default is a  three-way pass but you can use a 7 or 35 pass if you feel extra paranoid)
  6. then let it run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, ...

It will take a considerable amount of time (the bigger the disk, the longer it will take) so plan for it. In many cases, it can take a full day or more.