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Disk and File Erasure

Options for erasing disks and wiping files.


Software

The following utilities meet industry best practices for data sanitization on common read/write media including:

  • Hard disks
  • Floppy disks
  • USB drives
Utility Disk File PC/Win Mac Other
DBAN
http://www.dban.org
How to use DBAN
Y N Y Y Floppy or CD bootable x86 system
Eraser
http://eraser.heidi.ie
Y Y Y N N
Sdelete
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897443.aspx
Y Y Y N N
Disk Utility (OSX native) Y Y N Y N
Wipe/Shred (Linux native) Y Y N N Common Linux distributions
Dd/dcfldd Y Y N N UNIX utility

File Erasure Features in Applications

The following features included in application software meet industry best practices for data sanitization in individual files.

Application Feature PC/Win Mac Other
Identity Finder Shred Y Y N
Spider3 Erase Y N N
Spider 2008 Secure Erase Y N N

Hardware

  • For Drives That Will Be Reused: Wiebetech Drive eraser (http://weibetech.com/products/Drive_eRazer.php): Able to rapidly erase PATA/SATA hard drives using either multi-pass overwrite or the ATA-6 secure erase command. This device is for small to medium volume sanitization of operational drives.
  • For Drives That Will Not Be Reused: Where drive use is not possible or not desirable, magnetic media should be degaussed or mechanically shredded.  The no-fee campus R5 service will pick up your drives and securely dispose of them. 

Note about solid state devices: USB thumb drives, compact flash, MMC/SD, and the like are unreliable in the face of disk wiping protocols. Multi-pass wiping is not technically relevant for solid-state devices. More importantly, solid-state storage has a very limited number of read/write cycles and is designed with considerable surplus. This surplus storage is used to relocate data away from failing data segments. Wipe utilities cannot guarantee that all originally allocated blocks have been wiped. Further, they cannot insure new data is properly committed to the device. If disposal is the ultimate goal, physical destruction is strongly recommended.

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