Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
When you are about to dispose of a computer or hard disk it's critical that you erase your data. DBAN does it, simply and securely.
I get questions surrounding data recovery fairly often. People are often concerned that files they've deleted might be recoverable after the fact, and it's good and security conscious of them to be concerned.
At the other end of the spectrum are people who give no thought at all to the potential recoverability of their data, and discard old computers and hard drives without giving it a second thought. We often hear about people who've picked up an old computer at a recycler or yard sale, only to find that the hard disk is full of the previous owner's sensitive data.
Identity theft often follows.
DBAN, short for Darik's Boot And Nuke, is a free utility dedicated to doing one thing, and one thing well...
Erasing hard drives.
You boot from it, and you nuke the hard drive. It's that simple, and it's very, very effective.
DBAN is available as either an ISO file you can burn to create a bootable CD, or as an installer that will allow you to create a bootable floppy or USB stick.
Once you boot DBAN, there are several options which, for most practical purposes you can safely ignore. Press F10 and it will detect and erase everything on every hard disk on the machine.
Let me say that again, this time quoting the site:
|DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect.|
Once you run DBAN on a machine, whatever was on the hard disk is gone. Forever.
Which is exactly what you want when you're about to dispose of a machine or hard disk.
DBAN does have advanced options for overwriting data multiple times, using different algorithms to even more securely erase your data, but for common usage the defaults are plenty.
DBAN: Boot and Nuke your data.
I recommend it.