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Technological nit-picking aside, I feel very confident that running DBan erases the hard drive, but it's important to use DBan properly and make sure it erases the entire hard drive.

I've used DBan on several occasions and it does appear to completely wipe the hard drive. I thought I read somewhere recently that this might not be the case. What's your opinion?

In this excerpt from Answercast #59, I look at a minor security issue with DBan.

DBan - Darik's Boot And Nuke

Well, my opinion is actually that DBan is more than sufficient for most of what you want to do.

If you're giving away a hard drive, running DBan on it is going to overwrite the data that you care about, the data that you stored on your machine.

Now, there is an article that I found (actually, it's several articles out there) that actually shows some things about DBan; specifically, that it may not always be erasing absolutely everything on the hard drive. But in most cases (and I will say most cases), the little things that it leaves behind aren't particularly important; aren't things that you may care about.

So I will link to an article, "Securely erase a hard drive; DBan may not be sufficient" in the notes for this recording.

Disk partitions

But I will say this. The most common scenario where DBan didn't erase what you thought it did is if it only erases a specific partition and you have multiple partitions on your hard drive.

Now, DBan is supposed to erase the entire hard disk. I understand that. But it is possible to mistakenly delete or overwrite only a single partition. So it's important to use DBan properly and to use it in such a way that it does erase the entire hard drive.

Confident in DBan

But technological nit-picking aside, I am more than secure in my own situation where I give away hard drives by simply running DBan and making sure that it actually erases the entire hard drive.

Like I said, that is 99.9% (actually, it is probably even more than that) of the data that you honestly, truly care about making sure doesn't get into other people's hands.

So, go ahead and continue to use DBan; continue to use it when you give away hard drives, when you are getting rid of hard drives of any form, to ensure that the data you care about isn't also something that you're giving away.

Article C5893 - October 8, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

8 Comments
Mark Watkins
October 9, 2012 9:13 AM

Does it matter?

if the data potentially on that drive is that sensitive, take a sledgehammer to the thing.

If its not, run DBAN and get on with your life.

Tom
October 9, 2012 11:06 AM

Leo,

If I recall correctly, I remember reading an article that stated hard drives ingnore areas identified as damaged or corrupt. When a drive is wiped or formatted, these areas are untouched and may be accessible with recovery software of forensic tools. Do you know if this is true or if DBAN is able to wipe these areas, should they exist?

Mark J
October 9, 2012 12:26 PM

@Tom
That's one of the issues discussed in the linked article.

Mick
October 9, 2012 8:48 PM

I use a small 15 line debug script that DOES eliminate everything. It puts the H.D. back to the way it came out of the factory. I guess that you could pick out individual bits from the platter, but I don't know if it would be of any value.

snert
October 10, 2012 11:16 AM

Mike, could you post that 15 line debug script for us? I, for one, am very interested. That could be just what I'm looking for.

steven
October 11, 2012 5:04 PM

Just delete all partitions and restart and make a new single partition and use DBAN that one.

jedikitty
October 21, 2012 5:23 PM

@Mick: I am also very interested in your 15-line debug script. Is there some way you could point me to it, please. Thanks very much.

Dick
January 17, 2013 8:50 AM

DBAN will erase the contents of every hard drive that it finds. (This from the DBAN site and also displayed when running.)
Beware if you have more than your C: drive in the computer. Disconnect all except the one you want to erase.

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