If you ever decide to trade off your used Hard disk or a flash drive or a SD card, it’s important to securely delete all your private data in it. Many people assume that formatting the device will wipe it clean, but this is a big misunderstanding. Even with formatting or shift+deleting the data, anybody can recover the data with a file recovery software. When the disk is formatted or data is deleted, Windows just marks that sector of memory device as writable. So until this sector is overwritten with a data several times, there is high chance of recovering that data.
So all your passwords, personal information, classified documents, financial records, photos, etc are at risk of being leaked to the public if you don’t carefully wipe the hard disk. So what’s the best method to securely delete all your files so that it is not recoverable? Fortunately, there are hundreds of free utilities for Windows that can do this job for you. But not all of you reading this want to wipe all the data clean. Some may be selling their laptop and may want to keep the Windows intact, but wipe the rest of the personal data. I will cover each of scenarios below:
Wipe Entire Hard DiskDownload
Works with Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista.
Those who are selling their external or internal hard disk may want to wipe the entire hard disk. External hard disk is straight forward, you can simply plug it in to the USB port and run the wipe tool. Internal SATA hard disk users have to use an SATA/PATA/IDE Drive to USB Adapter Converter Cable to connect the internal hard disk like a external hard disk via USB. There are thousands of such products at Amazon. Make sure to buy one that is compatible for your internal hard disk. Once you have the hard disk connected to your computer’s USB port, download and run Minitool Drive Wipe utility.
MiniTool Drive Wipe Utility is 100% free software for personal use. It is free promotional software and is clean from malware. You can choose to Wipe partition or Wipe the entire hard disk.
When you choose either of the options, you have option to choose one of the 4 wiping methods. If you have lot of sensitive data, I recommend to use the DoD 5220.28-STD (7 passes) method. As the name indicates, this methods writes a set of patterns 7 times over each other, so very fool proof. But make sure you have plenty of time as it make take overnight or even all day to wipe entire hard disk, and this is typical to any such wiping utilities.
Wipe Only Free Space and Keep Windows Intact
Those who plan to sell their laptop or computer may likely want to leave Windows, but wipe the deleted data and free space so that deleted data is not recoverable.
Works with Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista.
Eraser has been around for several years and over a period of time has grown into an advanced wiping tool for Windows which can completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns. It has several options of wiping the hard disk. You can selectively wipe individual files, entire hard disk, or unused space. For this scenario, since we are looking to retain Windows and wipe all the empty space, I will show you how to do it:
- Right-click inside the user interface and select “New Task”.
2. Click on “Add Data” button.
3. Select “Unused disk space” from the “Target type” drop down list. Eraser has options to wipe entire Disk, File, Files in folder, Recycle Bin, Unused disk space, Secure move, and Drive/Partition.
4. Next comes the “Erasure method” drop-down list. There are several options to choose from, but note that as the number of passes increase, better is the wiping quality, and more is the time taken. I suggest to go with Gutmann (35 passes) for a your selective personal folder and use US DoD 5220.22-M for wiping the free hard disk space. If you have plenty of time, go ahead and do Gutmann for everything!
5. Click OK with proceed with easy on-screen instructions to finish the wiping process.
Got any questions or recommendations? Do let us know if comments below.