Securely erasing a Hard Drive

by Greg Thomas,  Southeast Texas Regional Extension Specialist

When we decommission a computer it is a good practice to securely erase all programs and data.  We want to get rid of the computer hardware but we do not want to give away any data or software.  In fact we are required by AgriLife procedures to make sure we complete this step. See the form AG-312 Inventory Software Removal Certification.

This sounds easy enough, but if it is not done properly data and software can be recoverable.  The process of securely erasing a hard drive is called wiping. What really happens is data on the drive is erased and it is written over one or more times with numbers or patterns of data. This process renders the data unrecoverable.

An easy way to wipe a drive is with a freeware utility named CopyWipe. To run CopyWipe properly you will make a bootable CD, then bootup with the CD and wipe the drive.

Step 1.  Click here to download the copywipe CD zip file

Step 2. Extract the CD ISO file from the zip (Right click the file and choose Extract All . . .  from the menu)

Step 3. Use your CD/DVD burning software to burn a CD  (double click the ISO file to start, you will need a blank CD)

Step 4. Boot the computer you want to wipe with the CopyWipe CD you created.

To complete the wiping process open and follow these instructions: How to use CopyWipe

If you have any questions, want us to mail you CD or  need assistance please call  your Regional IT Specialist or the First Call help desk.

Categories: Data Security and Protection, Do It Yourself