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Author Topic: DBAN - tool for securely wiping your hard drive
radiorahim
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2777

posted 12 November 2005 10:03 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If you think that reformatting a hard drive is a secure way to delete data off of your machine, you'd be wrong.

There are all kinds of easily available data recovery tools that can recover data from your old hard drive. Actually, lots of folks toss out old computers without even doing the most basic wipe of the hard drive making it a cinch for folks to steal your data. I've even heard of medical offices tossing old computers without wiping the drives.

There's a tool available called "DBAN". Basically you can boot from CD and wipe the hard drive such that only folks with the most advanced tools (like very sophisticated crime labs, spy agencies etc.) will be able to pull data from your drive.

Here's a review:

quote:
Do you know what happened to your data when you disposed of your last PC? With identity theft on the rise, it's important to make sure your information is removed before you get rid of that old hard drive. Thanks to the work of developer Darik Horn, there's an excellent tool to wipe data off of a hard disk: Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN).

When DBAN is finished with your hard drives, the master boot record, partition table, and every sector of the drive will have been overwritten in accordance with one of five well-regarded industry guidelines. DBAN is powerful stuff and has been used by US federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), to prepare machines for disposal


Here's the link:

NewsForge article

Here's the download link:

download here

There are other disk-wiping tools available, but this one is open source and free.

Haven't tried it myself yet, but I've got a couple of derelict 40 GB drives that have come my way that I'd like to get up and running again. I'll see if DBAN does the trick!


From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 12 November 2005 10:46 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Question: is there a such thing as ANY type of tool that would REALLY wipe your drive clean - that is, beyond the possibility of anyone, expert or not, recovering it?

Just curious. I've got an old hard drive here from my last computer that I've been lugging around with me from place to place for the last 3 years or so. I think it's burnt out, but I'm scared to dispose of it just in case.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
malcontent
Babbler # 621

posted 12 November 2005 11:04 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Probably, but a la shuffling a deck of cards, I think it would take many, many successive wipes to effectively delete the data -- perhaps 20 full wipes? If you were really worried, physical destruction of the drive on top of that would be prudent.
From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 12 November 2005 11:10 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, I'm not overly worried. I haven't been keeping state secrets on it or anything. But it would be nice to be able to erase it easily.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
malcontent
Babbler # 621

posted 12 November 2005 11:19 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Secure deletion of data

Short version: no amount of overwriting completely erases underlying data. Enough money and time can recover the data.


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cougyr
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3336

posted 13 November 2005 02:32 AM      Profile for Cougyr     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
Question: is there a such thing as ANY type of tool that would REALLY wipe your drive clean - that is, beyond the possibility of anyone, expert or not, recovering it?

I think a strong magnet would do it. Of course, you could toss it in your barbeque.


From: over the mountain | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
radiorahim
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2777

posted 13 November 2005 03:03 AM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Question: is there a such thing as ANY type of tool that would REALLY wipe your drive clean - that is, beyond the possibility of anyone, expert or not, recovering it?

Not really. You could smash your drive to pieces and a really good lab would be able to pull data off of it. Mind you it would have to be a lab with millions of dollars worth of equipment.

This DBAN software (and I suppose other similar software) is within the realm of "good enough" for most of us mere mortals It wipes your drive so that "run of the mill" data recovery software can't reconstruct your data.

Anyway Michelle you could "recycle" the drive...wipe it with this DBAN software...and then install it as a "slave" drive on your machine so you've got a little extra storage space. Or...spend $30 on a USB drive enclosure and then you've got a "portable" hard drive. I suppose it depends on the size of it whether or not it would be worthwhile.

Any hard drive that's bigger than say 4 GB goes into my "keeper" pile in the junk box.


From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
radiorahim
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2777

posted 03 December 2005 10:41 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Since my original post I've had a chance to test this tool. It works quite well...but does take a bit of time...as in hours.

You can burn the .iso image to CD, then set your machine's BIOS to boot from CD instead of the hard drive. DBAN uses a very tiny version of Linux to boot up your machine and then goes into DBAN.

I had three "dead" hard drives given to me that had problems and my idea was to "nuke" them so I could bring them back to life.

Two of them were beyond repair (one with very obvious mechanical problems!)...so ended up chucking them....but managed to recover one of them.

So...one derelict 40 GB hard drive that was going to end up in the garbage can (and in a landfill site somewhere in Michigan) is back up and working again!

BTW the machine I stuck it was a bit older and had a BIOS that wouldn't support a drive that large...but for DBAN it doesn't matter...DBAN detects the drive anyway.

So if you want...you can take a relatively "current" hard drive and stick it in an old Pentium I or II and let it pound away in the background.

Assuming you are booting up from CD, its still useful to have a blank floppy disk. After DBAN finishes it offers to make a report on what its done...useful if you've had a problem.

Its a nice little tool.


From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Ron Webb
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2256

posted 04 December 2005 12:04 AM      Profile for Ron Webb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
We are using DBAN at work to wipe a bunch of servers that we are decommissioning. I haven't done much more with it myself other than pop a CD in a few drives and followed the boss's instructions, but we're wiping drives with confidential government data, so I assume somebody has determined that it's effective.

Personally, I think a full (not quick) format followed by a few passes of a disk verify utility (one that does a write test) ought to be good enough for most people, unless you work for CSIS or something.

Another quick option if you don't want to salvage the drive (and let's face it, most drives that are more than a couple of years old aren't worth salvaging anyway) is just to drill a hole through it.


From: Winnipeg | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
radiorahim
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2777

posted 04 December 2005 05:43 PM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Another quick option if you don't want to salvage the drive (and let's face it, most drives that are more than a couple of years old aren't worth salvaging anyway) is just to drill a hole through it.

I dunno...I'm a great believer in recycling old computers and/or old computer parts.


From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged

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