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Thread: Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

  1. #1
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    Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

    I have an old Lacie 250 GB external hard drive that I bought a couple years ago, and I want to give it to my brother. But before I do, I want to wipe it clean, using something like Darin's Nuke and Boot. I tried using Darin's Nuke and Boot, but it didn't recognize the external usb drive. I know I can reformat the external drive with GParted, but I want to completely erase the data on it so that nothing can be recovered (were someone to run one of those undelete programs). I've searched Google for tutorials but, to my surprise, haven't been able to find any instructions on how to perform this task using Linux.
    Last edited by i_like_you; April 23rd, 2008 at 07:30 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

    You could use something like this to write random data to sdXX (you'll have to figure out the device name of the external drive, usually sdd or something.
    Code:
    dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/sdXX bs=8M
    To write with zeroes instead of random you'd have to do
    Code:
    dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdXX bs=8M
    It will take a long time to do this either way.
    To be absolutely positively certain that nobody would ever read it you'd have to totally destroy the disk. To be reasonably certain I'd say 3 rewrites of random data would do it.

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=240257

  3. #3
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    Re: Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

    Thank you! I was looking for a program that might do the trick, but couldn't find one with a gui. So I used your method and it worked! I ran it three times, twice with zeros, and once with random data. It took about three hours for each run-through.

  4. #4
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    Re: Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

    Just out of curiosity, where the random run any slower than the ones with zeroes?

  5. #5
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    Re: Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

    Actually, I spoke too soon regarding the random runthrough. I wiped the disk using zeros, and I did that twice. Each time it took 2 1/2-3 hours to complete. However, I've been running the random wipe for at least 8 hours now and I don't know when it's going to complete. I'm not in a rush to have it done so I'll let it run for another 24 hours if I have to.

  6. #6
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    Re: Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

    I don't think random works very well. I hit ctrl-c after running:
    Code:
    sudo dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/sdb
    and it said "183 bytes (183 B) copied, 56.8288 s, 0.0 kB/s" where when I ran
    Code:
    sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb
    and it said "352321536 bytes (352 MB) copied, 15.856 s, 22.2 MB/s"
    My 500gb drive would take forever if I used random! Is this just because my random number generator is slow or something?

  7. #7
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    Re: Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

    Not on an Ubuntu box at the moment, but is the shred command not there?
    (12:25:08 PM) sabdfl: if Linux is just another way to run Windows apps, we can't win
    (12:25:13 PM) sabdfl: OS/2 tried that


    Blog | Dropbox

  8. #8
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    Re: Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

    Quote Originally Posted by Limpan View Post
    To be reasonably certain I'd say 3 rewrites of random data would do it.
    I know that that's always the advise given, and I don't want to sound like a smartass, but it's only necessarry to write random data over your old stuff once.
    There is NO physical way you will ever get that data back. There is NO software in the world that can get your data back after One cycle of random data writing.

  9. #9
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    Re: Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

    Quote Originally Posted by -::Bas::- View Post
    There is NO physical way you will ever get that data back
    Actually, the data could be recovered using "Magnetic force scanning tunneling microscopy", but that's only if you have unlimited money, and a good reason. I have some info about how it works on my blog

  10. #10
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    Re: Wipe Clean External Hard Drive

    Quote Originally Posted by johnboiles View Post
    I don't think random works very well.
    /dev/random is very slow because it has to wait for the system to make random data. /dev/urandom is going to be WAY faster. There is a difference, but I personally don't think it matters for this case.
    Jj
    Registered Linux user #401472

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