Erase Hard Drive On Your Computer [Easy Tutorial]

How do I empty my hard drive? How can I erase the data on my hard drive? Sometimes there are circumstances where you want to permanently erase or delete the data or data on a computer hard drive. You can think of a reinstallation of the operating system or sale of the computer. Or just put it in the bulky waste and destroy the hard disk. Depending on the situation, in this tutorial, we describe a number of scenarios in which you can completely and irreparably delete the data and files on a hard drive from a computer.

There are two ways to remove data from magnetic media. One is using software and the other is with a hammer. The hammer way needs no explanation.  Pay attention! magnetic media, not from a modern  SSD drive.

Delete all data because I sell my computer

If you want to put the computer in bulky waste or sell it, it is better to really erase your hard drive. Or in the coarse dirt case, physically working with a hammer. Deleting your files by formatting the hard disk with the famous “ Format C:”  is really insufficient.

The data seems to have been removed from the hard disk. Emphasizing seems because this is not the case. The references to the tables have only been deleted. The data itself is still present on the hard disk. You can no longer see the data. In the explorer, it looks like the disk is empty. Think of it as the index of your favorite book has been cleared. The “chapters” in our case the tables are still present.

Retrieve data:

That is why it is also possible to simply retrieve the hard drive after erase. Today, there are plenty of programs on the Internet, both free and paid, that can recover the data on a formatted disk. In computer language: recovering. Below are three freeware recovery programs with which you can easily retrieve your files: Free undelete from Office Recovery, Data Recovery Wizard from EASUS and  Recuva  (from the makers of Ccleaner ).

DMDE:

Finally, there’s  DMDE – DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software, a particularly powerful tool for recovering accidentally erase files from your hard drive or USB. We mention it, it is not as easy as the aforementioned software but if you take the time to read the manual (unfortunately only in English) you have a good chance of getting back your documents, images or other valuable files to get.

Zero Fill:

With these tools, you can largely undo the formatting actions. Although repartitioning your hard drive first and then formatting it is a slightly better way, it is not waterproof either. If you really want to destroy your data so that no one can ever get back to it, take a look at the website of your hard disk manufacturer. Most manufacturers have special software to “destroy” the data on your disk.

A method used is the so-called zero fill. Your hard drive is not “emptied”, but completely described with random data. In this way, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve the data. The hard drive is completely empty and erases all data.

The editors of our helpdesk have good experience with the  KillDisk  (freeware) program. The name speaks for itself. In our opinion a good and safe method to permanently delete private data for others and thus make it unusable.

Thorough Formatting Without Software:

When you erase an (external) hard drive or USB stick and divide it into several partitions, there is still the risk that someone will be able to retrieve data or files from the disk. If you want to avoid this without installing the aforementioned additional software and ensure that each sector is overwritten, you can use the following command in the command prompt:

format X: / FS: <os> / P

Replace X: with the correct drive letter and <OS> with the desired file system, such as NTFS, FAT32 or exFAT. The / P parameter causes every sector to be overwritten by zeros. In Windows 8 or 10, you can go even more thoroughly. If you give the format command the parameter / P: 2, for example, each sector is first overwritten with zeros and then twice with any other digits. Keep in mind that this formatting is very time-consuming. But having your hard drive or USB stick erase in this way is a certainty that your data has really been deleted and is absolutely impossible to retrieve.

Erase Hard Drive Without Removing Operating System:

Do you want to sell the PC with the current operating system? Or keep a large computer clean, then you only want to delete your personal data. But the problem is that if the data is on the same partition as the operating system then it is impossible to format it. Windows simply does not allow it. Instead, you better use the freeware Eraser tool. The makers claim that even the NSA cannot retrieve the deleted data. The software is free to use and can be downloaded from the following link:  Eraser Download. Eraser is suitable for Windows 9X, ME, 2000, NT, XP, Vista and Windows 7, 8 and the latest addition Windows 10.

Erase Hard Drive During a New Installation:

A better option, if the PC is sold anyway, is to perform a reinstallation. The data is then certainly erased from your computer and it is even neater when it is sold. All your traces are gone from the computer. This can be done with a Windows computer via a factory recovery or in case no recovery partition is present via a Windows installation USB. These two ways work fine when erasing your drive, but if it is sensitive information, this is not enough. The data can be retrieved (albeit with some effort). The advice is, therefore, to use one of the programs below first and then perform the USB installation.

Ccleaner:

Ccleaner is a well-known name for many of us. It is excellent software to bring your computer in several areas maintained. But what many users of the computer optimization software do not know is that  Ccleaner can also be very useful to rid your hard drive of sensitive information in a trusted and safe way. Under  Tools -> data wiper are 4 ways to make your files permanently to remove from your hard drive. The higher the number of “transfers”, the better the deletion. To clear is actually not the right name. What Ccleaner does is overwrite the hard disk with random data.

You can assume that with the maximum method, absolutely nothing of your personal data can be found on the hard disk. The disk will be overwritten 35x. At the moment there is no recovery software that has an answer to that. The higher the number of passes, the longer the deletion of the data takes. But also overwriting three times has the result that the old data on the hard disk can no longer be retrieved with publicly available software. So if you don’t want to wait too long, overwriting the hard drive three times is more than enough to delete the files forever.

Erase Hard Drive With DBAN:

“DBAN” short for Darik’s Boot and Nuke is also software that overwrites data such as Ccleaner. The difference is that you start DBAN from a CD or USB stick. It automatically erase all software and data that can be found on the hard drive. It is, therefore, necessary to reinstall an operating system such as Windows if you want to use the computer again.

In the way, DBAN works you avoid identity theft, for example when selling or recycling the computer. The software can also be used for cleaning hard disks in case of viruses or malware contamination of the computer. Download DBAN

Erase SSD(Hard) Drive:

Erase an SSD (hard) drive cannot be done as described above. Erasing in a conventional way will shorten the life of the SSD drive considerably. Plus the data has not really been removed and can easily be retrieved.

If it is a “normal” new installation, you can format the disk in the Windows setup without any problems.
When it comes to the destruction of sensitive information on the SSD, our first tip is to check out the manufacturer’s site. Here you will find software specially made for your SSD drive.

  • Corsair SSD Toolbox
  • Samsung Magician
  • SanDisk SSD Toolkit
  • Intel Solid-State Toolbox

Did you not find what you were looking for? Then here is probably your solution. The super tip to effectively erase your SSD so that all data is really deleted. Parted Magic. Unfortunately, it is not freeware but the small amount of money to purchase the removal software is more than worth it. As for the editors, the number 1 program to securely and undelete your data from your SSD. A nice bonus is that the software works for both SSDs and ordinary hard drives.

So far this article about how to erase or empty data from your (SSD) hard drive.