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Re: Erasing a hard disk easily
From: "Doug White" <doug () dwhite us>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 10:41:33 -0500

Much of the posting on this topic probably is overkill.

If you are a private business, and the files on the hard drives are not top
secret super-sensitive defense information, but are the usual (referring to the
Laptops) salesman, outside representative type of use,)  then a delete of the
hard drives using a bootable disk, and possibly followed by a format, will
sufficiently protect you from the reuse of the information contained on them.
Reformatting a FAT32 drive to NTFS will usually do a good enough job.

In practice, most of the files on a laptop are actually operating system and
program files, which once deleted are usually not recoverable in a useable form
by anyone other that a forensic expert, and are, by their nature not all that

The charitable organization that will be the beneficiary of the donated units
in usual practice, will not be interested in doing anything but re-formatting
and installing the operating system of their choice and going on from there.
They, of course would be interested in any device drivers which may be
available, but will make do without that if need be.  They would do this to
avoid inheriting any compromises or virus/worm infections.

If the units did contain super sensitive DoD information, then best practices
(and probably the law) will require you to donate them with hard drives
removed.   Let the recipients furnish their own hard drives.  Then disassemble
the drives, remove the platters and either melt them down or run them through a
cross-cut shredder, and then melt them down.

That said, I have over time purchased servers from a recovery company, and
received them with all files completely intact.  What I did was usually
reformat the drives, do the partitioning and RAID set ups that I required, and
installed the software I required and went on from there.  There is not much
WOW factor to see that the former owner had not patched systems or to be able
to say "Boy that was an OLD copy of WORD that they were running."

Just my 0.02


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: That's what I am going to do to the non donated units smash, drill and M80
: them.
: But for the ones I am donating I was wondering if the magnet approach was
: quick enough.
: Thanks..

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