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Reformat or Wipe Hard Drive

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#1 blackelantra


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Posted 01 October 2010 - 08:33 PM

I had a backdoor bot and I was advise to reformat my HD and reinstall windows. Something I am unclear on is what the real difference in "wiping" the HD is compared to reformatting it. I have already done a "destructive" reformat and reloaded xp, but am not sure if I should have gone further since I really don't know what the difference in wiping and reformatting would be. I have an hp desktop with xp. It has a separate partition for the recovery system. I don't know if I need to wipe or reformat this partition. I've heard as well that the only way to wipe the boot sector would be to load linux and write zeros to this part of the HD.

In short, I am looking for guidance on to what extent I need to either wipe or reformat the hard drive. I made mention of the boot sector and the recovery partition because I don't know to what extent my machine was compromised. I am posting in this section since I figure this is related to getting xp reloaded and running again. I apologize in advance if this is in fact the wrong place to post this question.

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#2 hamluis



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Posted 01 October 2010 - 08:45 PM

My experiencee is solely with Microsoft media, regardless of operating system.

Deleting the partition...eliminates all traces of the partition structure...while formatting rewrites the file system on that partition.

As I see it...if the partition structure has any problems, they remain if you just format. Whereas deleting the partition eliminates everything and forces a new partition structure along with new formatting.

Format vs Delete.

I always elect to delete, just as I uninstall possibly damaged drivers before attempting to install new ones.

I cannot speak of restore/recovery partitions/disks/systems...since the manufacturers of the systems (Dell, HP, etc.) are probably the only ones who know exactly how they work.


#3 dc3


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Posted 01 October 2010 - 09:28 PM

The two methods most widely used are a format, and wiping the hdd.

Formatting the hdd does not permanently erase the data. Formatting will only erase the parts of the hdd that have had data on it, it will not affect the unused parts.

Wiping the hdd involves completely overwriting the entire hdd with an algorithmic pattern of x and o.

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#4 Gabrial


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Posted 01 October 2010 - 11:18 PM

If you aren't using any customized bootloaders like a recovery partition loader, or some kind of DDO or encryption program from the master boot record, you can safely boot to the recovery console and rewrite the XP bootloader. This will overwrite the master boot record with the default boot code from XP.

1. Use your XP install disk to boot into recovery console.
2. Log into your installation and type:


3. Find the device name for your drive, like \Device\HardDisk0 for instance.
4. Type:

fixmbr [device name]

Substitute your device name for the one in brackets.

Then type 'exit' and reboot.

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