hard drive formatting
Archived posts from this Category
Archived posts from this Category
A common question we get here at Computer Repair Vancouver goes something like this: I have just bought a brand new computer and I have no need to keep my old computer; what should I do with my old system before I give it away or trash it. First of all, on a somewhat tangential note, do not throw away your old electronics if at all possible. Instead, search out an electronic recycling location. We realize that these types of locations can be difficult to find (as compared to paper or bottle recycling plants); however, they do indeed exist. Here in Vancouver we have a group of people who come over from Victoria (on Vancouver Island in British Columbia) once a month and collect these types of items for recycling purposes. Although it costs us a few dollars to do this we think it is the environmentally wise thing to do.
So back to the question at hand; you are going to be getting rid of your old machine and you would like to be able to erase all of your hard drive’s files in a secure fashion. You do not want anyone to be able to simply repair your hard drive and take a look through those embarrassing photos and long winded love letters which once filled your PC. So how is this done?
A common misconception is that deleting your computer data and files via your operating system (most likely Windows) is sufficient. After all, once your computing information has been sent to the recycle bin and emptied it no longer exists, right? Well, yes and no! These files are considered to have been deleted by the operating system; in other words they are logically gone. Unfortunately, they still physically exist on your hard drive. I will briefly explain the general idea. Operating systems such as Windows store data and files all over the place on your hard drive (they are not stored in sequential order). Therefore, Windows needs something, analogous to a phone book, which keeps track of all of this data and where it is kept. Usually, when you delete a file from your computer you are not actually removing the physical data itself; rather, you are deleting the entry from the phone book. In most cases this is sufficient; unfortunately (and sometime fortunately) there are programs out there that can repair your computers address book and find old data that had been previously deleted.
So how do you securely erase your hard drive then? You want a program which actually goes through your hard drive (the physical device) and gets rid of all of the binary information encoded on it. The best method we here at Computer Repair Vancouver have found, and the one we recommend, is to use a small utility called DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke). Not only is this utility free, but it is quite easy to use and has a very good reputation online. The general idea behind DBAN is that it goes through your hard drive and uses a series of advanced algorithms to erase all of the data on your hard drive in a manner that makes it very difficult to retrieve. It erases everything: your files, the space between your files, the Windows registry, operating system files …
Now before you use DBAN or any other similar computing tool you must make sure that you have backed up or transferred any important files to your new machine. This may appear self evident; however, we can not stress this enough. Once you have used a hard drive erasing tool your data is gone! The only way you will be able to get it back is if you hire a bunch of guys from the NSA and pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to statistically and algorithmically bring your information back from the dead. This is your last warning; make sure you have anything remotely important stored somewhere else before you use these types of programs!
So how do you use Darik’s Boot and Nuke? In this step by step guide Computer Repair Vancouver will show you how to do so.
In order to follow the procedure outlined below you will need:
Once you come back to your machine you should see a success message signifying that your computer’s hard drive has been totally erased. If this is the case then you are free to send your PC off to the local recycling station; its computer data is now beyond repair!