Damn ! I need at least 10 rep to post more than 2 links. So I converted the links to code. Anyway, here goes -
Why I wanted to do a "full erase" - malware infection.
I quickly glanced at most of the answers and did
ctrl +f HPA, then DCO. I saw that the answers don't mention one crucial aspect - removing data from "secret areas" in your HDD such as HPA (Host Protected Area) and DCO (Device Configuration Overlay).
I am no expert, rather an average user,but I have gained some knowledge on the internet. These areas matter in two cases -
- If you have malware, especially rootkits and bootkits.
- If you are a forensic investigator.
Software of any kind (malware) can be hidden in the HPA and DCO areas. If you don't wipe these areas too, and the (sophisticated) malware has infected them, chances are that your infection will return after a "full erase" and reinstall of (windows) OS. A forensics
guy, might want to see if a criminal has hidden secret data in these areas.
DBAN does NOT wipe the HPA and DCO -
DBAN suggests other paid solutions for these purposes, by its partner Blancco -
Btw, Blancco advertises on DBAN software.
HDDErase by CMRR has HPA and DCO removal feature, but its an old project which was not supported/continued after 2007 or so.
BC Wipe Total wipeout is a $50 tool that clearly mentions its ability to wipe DCO and HPA.
Its OS independent i think.
Hdparm is a free linux based solution. I am using it right now, in the hopes of wiping my HPA and DCO, as per this tutorial -
Companion docs for hdparm tutorial -
manual for hdparm -
BUT, this approach is full of challenges. My system threw up problems in many steps of the above tutorial. To solve all those problems, I had to read more and each step becomes like 5-6 sub-steps. So, its not as easy as following 10 steps and being done with it. I am seriously considering throwing away my old hdd and getting a new one. I have wasted..no spent 2 days so far.
Btw, if you want to run linux (ubuntu distro) with minimum hassle, then
get it free off their website and install it on a usb flash drive (at least 4GB) and boot off that flash drive. Once you see ubuntu, then open your browser and download the .deb file for hdparm. Open it with ubuntu software center to install it. Now you can invoke hdparm via terminal. I do this method of installation instead, because sudo apt-get install command fails for me for some strange reason.
To get an idea of how much I have suffered thus far, see my profile or check out the question at -
How do I erase a harddrive 100%, including HPA and DCO areas?
HTH anyone who is stuck and irritated by this problem.