Secure file eraser?

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Secure file eraser?

Postby JS » Sat Jun 14, 2008 12:15 pm

A colleague is getting rid of her PC for a new laptop. Is there a GPL/free program to securely delete/shred sensitive files for Windows? That is, all the user files, settings, passwords etc. so that the PC can be given away and used again, without risking ID theft?

I know of dban and have googled and found Heidi eraser.

The advantage of dban is that it completely overwrites the whole disk. However, to use the PC again, one would need to install an OS.

Has anyone ever used the eraser software (above), and is it secure/simple to use?

Alternatively, is there a list of locations where potentially sensitive files are stored in Windows?

Thanks.
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RE: Secure file eraser?

Postby towy71 » Sat Jun 14, 2008 12:27 pm

As far as I know the only way to be certain that your sensitive files are erased is to use dban, Windows has all sorts of nooks and crannies that your average user would never find :(

To reiterate, formatting the hard drive is the only secure way to ensure that your data is erased!

Stick ubuntu on the computer and then advertise it on freecycle or some such ;-)
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RE: Secure file eraser?

Postby nelz » Sat Jun 14, 2008 12:57 pm

Or use dban and then reinstall Windows.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
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RE: Secure file eraser?

Postby ollie » Sat Jun 14, 2008 1:06 pm

Or use dban and install "insert favourite distro" :lol:

I also have a freeware program called "wipedisk" that runs under DOS and securely erases hard disks. I started distributing this nearly a decade ago and it runs from a bootable floppy. If you want a copy just ask and I'll upload it somewhere to make it easy for anyone to download.
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Re: RE: Secure file eraser?

Postby JS » Sat Jun 14, 2008 1:33 pm

Wow, thanks for all the quick replies!

towy71 wrote:As far as I know the only way to be certain that your sensitive files are erased is to use dban, Windows has all sorts of nooks and crannies that your average user would never find :(

To reiterate, formatting the hard drive is the only secure way to ensure that your data is erased!

I suppose I should have expected that... :(

towy71 wrote:Stick ubuntu on the computer and then advertise it on freecycle or some such ;-)

ollie wrote:Or use dban and install "insert favourite distro" :D

I could suggest it... her intention was to give it to some charity.

nelz wrote:Or use dban and then reinstall Windows.

I don't think my colleague will have the original disk(s) (or know what to do with them)*. Hence wondering whether it's possible to wipe sensitive info but keep Windows. And, depending on where she wants to do with it, might want to keep windows.

* it would likely be impractical for her to take it to work and me install for her (public transport and all that...) and she doesn't have internet at home at the moment. She just wants rid of it (taking space) and I told her she should be careful about files left on the hard drive.

The other alternative is to smash the hard drive.... but I'd have to explain how to remove it, and it seems a waste :D

ollie wrote:I also have a freeware program called "wipedisk" that runs under DOS and securely erases hard disks. I started distributing this nearly a decade ago and it runs from a bootable floppy. If you want a copy just ask and I'll upload it somewhere to make it easy for anyone to download.

Is it equivalent to dban?

Thanks again!
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RE: Re: RE: Secure file eraser?

Postby Dutch_Master » Sat Jun 14, 2008 2:01 pm

She doesn't have to take the whole machine into work, just the harddrive ;) Whipe it, and give her a Knoppix CD so she can show interested parties that the hardware is running, w/o having to install an OS anyway.
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RE: Re: RE: Secure file eraser?

Postby towy71 » Sat Jun 14, 2008 3:42 pm

Well done DM why didn't I think of that ;-)
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RE: Re: RE: Secure file eraser?

Postby ollie » Sun Jun 15, 2008 10:56 am

It met the DoD specs 10 years ago. You can actually specify your own final write value to each sector.
To use WipeDisk, type "wipedisk" and the enter key at the DOS prompt. The program will fill each sector with the user entered value once.

There are two switches for WipeDisk:

/secure = write zeros in each sector three times,
then write ones in each sector three times,
and finally write the user entered value in each sector.
(DoD 5220.22-M)

/help or
/? = displays help text

For example: typing "wipedisk /secure" will securely wipe your disk
eliminating residual magnetic images.
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