Cleaning a hard drive means completely erasing the unit of all its information. Deleting everything does not erase a hard disk and formatting does not [always] erase a hard disk. You will have to take additional steps to clean the hard drive completely.
When you format a hard drive or delete a partition, Lifewire says that it’s just deleting the file system, making the data invisible, or no longer indexing blatantly, but not disappearing.
A file recovery program or special hardware can easily retrieve the info. If you want to be sure data is erased, you must erase the hard drive with special software.
Follow the simple steps below to clean a hard drive completely:
How to clean a hard drive
Time required: this can take from several minutes to several hours depending on how big the unit is and what software/method you choose to clean it.
Make a backup copy of everything you want to keep.
When the hard disk cleaning is complete, there will be absolutely no way to recover anything in the unit. Sometimes there are several units on a single hard drive. You can see the drives (volumes) that are on a hard disk from the Disk Management tool in Windows.here is how to create a backup on windows.
Download/buy a data destruction program.
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Any of the first eight programs recommended in that list will work well because they can be used to erase a hard drive from outside Windows, a necessary feature if you want to clean the hard drive on which Windows is installed.
DBAN is preferable and probably the most used hard disk cleaning tool.
Note: Actually, there are several ways to erase a hard drive completely, but the use of data destruction software is the easiest and allows the hard drive to be used again.
Next, complete the steps necessary to install the software or, in the case of a boot program such as DBAN, obtain the ISO image on a CD or DVD or a USB device such as a flash drive:
If you are using a DVD or CD, this usually involves burning the ISO image onto a disk and then booting from the disk to run the program.
If you are using a flash drive or other USB drive, this usually involves burning the ISO image on the USB device and then booting from that USB drive to start.
Clean the hard disk according to the instructions of the program.
Note: Most data destruction programs use several different methods to erase a hard drive. If you are curious about the effectiveness of the methods used to complete the cleaning of the hard disk, there are other data disinfection methods available.
After properly cleaning a hard drive, you can be sure that the information that was on the disk is now gone forever.
Now you can install Windows on the drive, create a new partition, sell or give away your hard drive or computer, recycle or get rid of it, or anything else you need to do.
Tips and more information on how to erase hard drives
- Cleaning a hard drive is independent of the operating system, as long as you use one of the boot tools from our list. This means that you can use this same general process to clean a hard drive if you have Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Linux or any other PC operating system.
- As of Windows Vista, the formatting process changed and a single zero-write pass is applied to each standard format (not fast). In other words, a very basic hard drive scan is performed during a format.
If a single zero-write pass is good enough for you, consider deleting your drive after a regular format in Windows 10, through Windows Vista. If you want something even more secure, follow and follow the hard drive cleaning instructions above.
Note, too, that this is an elimination of the partition you are formatting. If you have more than one partition on a physical hard drive, you will also need to format those additional drives if you want to consider the entire physical disk as “erased.”
If what you want to do is make sure that the files you delete are gone, a data erasing tool is more than you need. There are free software programs to shred files that destroy individual files as needed.
Many of those shredder programs also do what is called a free space cleanup, which is an erasure of all free space on your hard drive, which would include any of your previously deleted files.