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Formatting Hard-drive


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#1 tdkeck

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 06:15 PM

I want to be sure that some deleted files are completely removed from hard-drive. I understand that when I delete files, they are not actually removed, but will remain in tact on my hard-drive. I know that you can purchase a "clean sweep" program that will completely eliminate files.

If I reformat my hard-drive, will this also completely eliminate files from my hard-drive?

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#2 Klinkaroo

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 11:31 PM

Actually no... if you reformat your hardrive it doesn't actually remove the files... it's like a filling cabinet... you can stack all the papers in one pile but have fun trying to find anything...

You have to wipe the hardrive... or if you are really into it and don't want to keep your hardrive after a good hammer or axe does the trick :thumbsup:

#3 dc3

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 12:32 AM

As I understand it, it would take something in the neighborhood of thirty wipes with Wipe Drive to get to the point that the files would be beyond recovery, or so Wipe Drive say, the only way to do it for sure is to completely write over every file after it has been wiped.

I had to come back to add this, it took six hours to run a single wipe with Wipe Drive on my 200GB HDD, that would make 180 hours to do the complete wipe. :thumbsup: This is when Klinkaroo's suggetion becomes practical, go with the BFH.




btw...BFH = Big Fisted Hammer :flowers:

Edited by dc3, 11 June 2006 - 12:36 AM.

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#4 rowal5555

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 12:51 AM

Hi tdkeck.

You can securely delete files with the Spybot tool 'Secure Shredder'. Open the tool and browse for files to shred. This only works if you haven't already deleted the file.

If you have deleted the file, a good way to clear up everything is to run ERASER 5.7 as a one off or on a schedule. This app will securely overwrite all the free space on your HDD. It is a freebie available here: http://www.download.com/Eraser/3000-2092_4...tml?tag=lst-0-4

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#5 tdkeck

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 03:58 PM

If you run the Eraser 5.7 program, it appears to "Overwrite" the free space on the hard drive. Does this also eliminate the ability to "restore" the computer to earlier date? If not, then old data could still be retrieved by running the "restore" utility.

#6 Enthusiast

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 04:02 PM

Restore to a previous date is not reinstalling the operating system and if you wipe or even format the drive it will also eliminate the op system on the partition and everything in it, including Windows System Restore!

Are you planning on wiping the drive and installing a fresh installation of Windows or using Windows System Restore to roll back the present installation of the operating system to a previous system state?

#7 tdkeck

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 05:46 PM

I am trying to make sure that old files cannot be retrieved by anyone in the future. My original question was whether or not reformatting the drive would permamently erase all deleted files. The answer to this question was no.

My choice appears to be replace the harddrive, or use a program like Eraser. I have since run the Eraser program (version 5.7). It takes about 2 hours and it appears to "overwrite" all the unused disk space. I have not re-formatted my drive or "wiped" it.

If I have only run the Eraser program, is it still possible for someone to run the restore utility and retrieve data, or does overwriting the unused disk space eliminate the restore function?

If the restore functin will give someone access to old files, then I will replace the hardrive.

Thanks for any help.

#8 rowal5555

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 06:03 PM

Hi tdkeck.

That's a very good question and I'm afraid I don't know the answer. System Restore will put back the applications and registry settings that were in force at that time but I don't know about files.

Why don't you try a Restore and let us know what you find out.

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#9 tdkeck

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 06:34 PM

I just tried restoring the system to an earlier date, and it did not work. In other words, I could not restore the system to a date earlier than today. The Eraser Program has eliminated the restore point, so perhaps it has worked.

If anyone has more experience with Eraser 5.7 let me know. Otherwise it appears to have done the job.

Thanks for the help.

#10 Mr Alpha

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 07:27 PM

The data may still be recoverable. But only if your willing to spend money and have a forensics lab.

The hard drive isn't a digital device, but analog, with not only two states but an endless number of states. So even if the data is overwritten traces are left behind. I believe the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over here has a policy of at least seven overwrites for any classified data. There was some research last year, I believe, where they managed to recover data that had been overwritten 14 times using an electron microscope.

If your paranoid you can use something like Darik's Boot and Nuke to completely erase the data forever.
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