Permanently erase full hard drive with DBAN

Darik’s Boot and Nuke, aka DBAN, is a free open source project to entirely wipe your hard drive, including the operating system, this full data wipe should be done when you want to get rid of your computer, before giving it to someone else, selling it or sending it for recycling.

Simply formatting your hard disk with Windows does not make the data irrecoverable, DBAN secure overwrite of your hard disk will thwart all data recovery tools, including the FBI. If you plan on reinstalling your operating system it might be a good idea to wipe it first as data remnants of the old usage will still be left behind even after you format and reinstall Windows, DBAN is system operating system independent, it will work with any computer.

DBAN hard drive secure erase

DBAN hard drive secure erase

DBAN allows for multiple wiping methods, from a quick one pass data wipe up to the 35 times Guttmann data wiping method, using the Guttmann method is unnecessary to stop data recovery and it will possibly take you days to wipe a hard drive with it, choosing a quick one pass overwrite should be enough for most users, for those in need of very high security overwrite the disk 3 times with the DoD Short method, if you want to play the paranoid card use the DoD 5220.22-M 7 passes, DoD standing for US Department of Defense.

The random numbers used to overwrite your hard drive are created using the pseudo random number generator Mersenne Twister or ISAAC method, they are both safe, DBAN will give you more information about the wiping methods being used on the screen when you select them, if in doubt leave the defaults, it has been optimized for everyone, the PRNG choice is given as an extra feature more than a real need, as it will make little difference to change the algorithm used to generate the random data.

An IT department in need of data erasing proof can choose to wipe the hard disk with zeros as the last pass, aka zeroing the disk, when finished, an IT technician can view the disk using an Hexadecimal editor and seeing only zeros written on the disk will confirm that everything worked as expected.

DBAN command line fork

There is a fork of DBAN called Nwipe, this program is command line based, allowing for more hardware support, it can be found in the Parted Magic live CD, you shouldn’t need it unless DBAN doesn’t work in your system which would be rare for someone with home user hardware.

How to burn DBAN to a bootable CD

An .iso image is not like music of films, it is a compact file that contains structured small files inside and it needs to be burned in a particular way.

Make ISO bootable image CDBurnerXP

Make ISO bootable image CDBurnerXP

To make a DBAN bootable CD download any CD burning software first like the free CDBurnerXP, insert a blank CD-R, from the menu on the “Burn ISO options” tab, choose “Burn ISO image”, in the next menu select your .iso file, select “Disc at once”, and leave “Finalize disk” checked, click on “Burn Disk”.

How to wipe a hard drive using DBAN

  • Download DBAN .iso file and burn it to a CD, make it a bootable image
  • Enter your computer BIOS settings and make sure the boot up configuration order has CD first
  • Introduce the DBAN CD, boot up the computer, when DBAN loads type “autonuke” or follow onscreen instructions for a customized hard disk wiping

Erasing a full hard drive can be a long process because every single bit has to be overwritten, how long wiping a full hard disk takes will depend on the hard drive size, the wiping method chosen and the computer processor, the most important factor from all these three being the selected wiping method, overwritting a hard drive one less time can save considerable time.

Visit DBAN homepage

Note: After a hard drive has been securely wiped it is necessary to format it (FAT32, NTFS, etc) before being able to reuse the disk for data storage.

Comments (5)

  1. James 19 September, 2011
  2. Daniel 19 September, 2011
  3. James 19 September, 2011
  4. Daniel 19 September, 2011
  5. Soldier 7 August, 2013