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I need to securely wipe a drive from within Windows 7 and can't find a good tool to do so. Eraser doesn't seem to have a setting to wipe a whole drive, DBAN requires not being in Windows. Over in UNIX I'd just use dd.

Suggestions much appreciated. If it makes any difference, I was planning on Schneier's method of one wipe of zeros, one of ones and a couple of random bits (although I know there's no definitive proof it's necessary).

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I would strongly recommend not doing it from within Windows. You really have no assurance that the drive was properly wiped. Portions of the drive not accessible to Windows won't be wiped. Among other things, rootkits like Alureon hide portions of the drive from Windows. I have seen people wipe an infected drive from an infected system (leaving the infection on the MBR and end of the drive), reinstall Windows after a boot from an infected MBR, and still be infected after a wipe/reinstall. –  David Schwartz Feb 14 '12 at 9:33

5 Answers 5

Because you're looking to do this from within windows most of the free disk/volume erasure utilities are off the table. File utilities that can do free space wipes are the order of the day here.

While anything that implements that DOD 5220.22-M standard will give you reasonable assurance of destruction, I've always been a fan of Sysinternals sdelete, it's free and command line.

You can use it to delete all the files on the disk:

sdelete -p 7 -s -q X:\*.*

And then use it to purge the free space:

sdelete -p 7 -z X:
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The one I use is DBAN. You can't run it from within the OS but it'll certainly do the job.

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For a non-system partition, I now use Truecrypt. Select "Create Volume" > "Encrypt a Non-system Partition/Drive". Truecrypt will format the drive but with encrypted data, so the net result is that every sector is overwritten with random-looking data (the output stream of the encryption). After Truecrypt is done just open Disk Management or Diskpart and re-partition the drive. Truecrypt 6.3a works fine on Windows 7, and is a useful tool on its own.

For free space wiping on a system drive I use SDelete from the Sysinternals Suite.

Sadly, my experience with DBAN and the other Linux based wiping tools is that they have not been kept current. They often cannot 'see' modern SATA ACHI BIOS's, or SATA 'fake-RAID' implementations. So I now just hook up the drive to a working PC, and wipe it from within Windows -- this always works; when Windows is loaded all ATA drivers will be present and working too.

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The program BCWipe has tons of good features. It's not free, but has a demo version that should handle wiping raw devices.

You could also investigate the built-in "cipher /w" option. It's part of XP, so I assume that it'll be in Windows Vista/7. It'll wipe files or free space, and not an entire device, so it's probably not what you need.

And for my final, somewhat top-heavy, solution, you could install VMWare, VirtualBox, or some other Vm software and boot any small Linux LiveCD and do the classic UNIX device nuke maneuver:

dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/<device>

(That, or simply boot the LiveCD directly.)

Just remember that a simple "free space" wipe (several suggested programs here, including two of my own) may leave some recoverable data lying around. Google for a PDF titled "One Big File Is Not Enough" by Garfinkel and Malan for a really interesting 2006 paper on the topic.

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If you're looking to wipe a non-OS drive, eraser can do it; if you reformat the partition, and then wipe the blank space.

Hex editors like WinHex have features that can fill a driver with zeros (or random data).

There are also Windows ports of dd, as a last resort.

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