Question about Wiping a Disk

Discussion in 'privacy technology' started by imaginos, Dec 7, 2006.

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  1. imaginos

    imaginos Registered Member

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    I need some advice please. My IBM Thinkpad laptop's hard drive crashed last night with, according to IBM support, an irreparable error (Unmountable_boot_volume) that cannot be fixed with chkdsk /r or any other "fixit" commands.

    The machine is under warranty so they are sending me a new 80g hard drive to replace the fried one and new software for a clean Windows XP install. They want me to send them the fried one once I've got the new one. I have no problem with that, but I want to wipe all the personal data off the fried one before returning it. I don't have anything "embarrassing" on it, but I do have some passwords, etc on it. I know Best Buy will wipe the drive for me once its out of the machine for $70.00, but that's a lot of jack to save if I can do it myself.

    I have some software from my employer that we use to wipe our hard drives when we send leased machines back to the vendor. It is called GDisk 2003 and it works great, but it COMPLETELY wipes everything.

    Here's my question. Does anyone have any knowledge of this type of software? I'm not even sure it will work when I insert it and boot the laptop because we've only used it on ones that work, not ones that are damaged. But if I can get it to work, do I care if it COMPLETELY wipes the hard drive (O/S and all) before I pop it out of the laptop and install the new one? You see, like I said, we've only used it to wipe drives from machines we are returning to the vendor. How it ultimately affects the machine, the bios, etc. I don't know and haven't cared - until now. Since I will be keeping my Thinkpad and simply replacing the hard drive, will using GDisk screw up anything else, like drivers or bios, or eeprom? Is it safe to assume it will ONLY affect the hard drive and nothing else on my computer? And then I can simply pop the new hard drive in and do a clean Windows install and all will be fine? Basically, is there any "gotchas" I need to be aware of?

    Thanks in advance,

    imaginos
     
  2. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

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    Did a quick read up on GDisk. It has a lot more functions then just wiping the HDD, none of which should\will effect anything other then the HDD. Of course your drivers will be gone as they are either native to the OS or installed after your new HDD, OS and peripherals are installed. Your Bios are safe. If your HDD is toast then GDisk, or any other wiping utility may not even see it. In that case your info. should be quit safe as it would be very labor intensive = expensive for anyone to try and recover it if it is possible at all
     
  3. imaginos

    imaginos Registered Member

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    Thunderz, thanks. Quick follow up: Wouldn't I need to do EVERYTHING (including drivers) from scratch anyway after I install the new hard drive? So I would lose the drivers by default after taking out the old hard drive anyway, wiped or not, right? In other words, in the eyes of the computer itself, simply removing the fried hard drive without wiping it would be the same as removing it after wiping. Same impact to the machine, right?

    I'm just being cautious because I just don't want to render my PC useless after wiping the current hard drive in it. I would think I'd be safe since I have to put in a brand new one anyway and reload.

    Thanks.

    imaginos
     
  4. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

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    I understand your caution. All your statements are correct. I do not think you will have any problem with un-wanted data recovery from the old HDD. Ran into a similar situation on a warranty repair of a HDD I did a while back. OEM required the original drive to be returned. The end user refused to release the old drive for fear of personal data being recovered. I threw every bootable format tool I had at the drive. Done even recognized its` presence. This finally convinced the customer that it was about as safe as could be to release the HDD for return with minimal fear of the recovery of any personal data.
     
  5. imaginos

    imaginos Registered Member

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    Thanks again, ThunderZ. I will try to wipe it. If I can't, I'll not lose any sleep over it.

    imaginos.
     
  6. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

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    :thumb: Curious if the utility will even see it. Keep us posted.
     
  7. Alphalutra1

    Alphalutra1 Registered Member

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    This utility has always worked the best for me. And it does an excellent job of securely erasing EVERYTHING on the drive http://dban.sourceforge.net/

    Cheers
     
  8. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    2nd :thumb:
     
  9. imaginos

    imaginos Registered Member

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    Well, I hooked up and external floppy drive to box and started up the machine and it didn't find GDISK. It just keeps going to the same blue screen. I suppose that means that the drive is totally hosed.

    Thanks for your advice.

    imaginos
     
  10. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

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    hmmmmm. May or may not. Is the external floppy drive USB. If it is are your BIOS set to boot from it?
     
  11. imaginos

    imaginos Registered Member

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    The external floppy drive I'm using connects via the parallel port in the back of the Thinkpad.

    So I need to tell the BIOS to boot from this drive? Okay, I believe you, but not sure how to do it. I know how to get to my BIOS (press F2) as I've been there before to turn off my pci bus power management (it intefered with my video editing software and firewire card). But that's all I've ever done.

    If I go into the BIOS "GUI" will it be obvious on what I need to do? Will I be able to change it back when I go to reinstall the new hard drive?

    Sorry for what might seem to be stupid questions, but I'm trying to understand and learn.

    Thanks.

    imaginos
     
  12. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

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    Sorry, can not give you exact instructions on this one. BIOS features varies from mobo and PC manufacturers. On most you will see a "Boot order" option when you first start your machine. In your case I believe you should pick "other" if it is available. Changing the setting in this manner will mean you will not have to change it back on the next re-start as it will default back to however it is set in the BIOS menu. If you do not see a "Boot order" option then go into the BIOS menu as you have before. Somewhere in the menu options you should find an option for "first boot device" or "start up options" or similar. Yes, you will be able to change these settings back.
    Another option is to go to the link Alphalutra1 provided. The program there has an option to create a bootable CD to run it from. You may still have to change the boot order but your PC should have no problem finding the CD drive.
     
  13. tradetime

    tradetime Registered Member

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    F12 used to be the hotkey to select temp boot device, hit it at the first instance of the IBM screen.
    As mentioned a DBAN floppy does a decent job.
     
  14. ThunderZ

    ThunderZ Registered Member

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    Had forgotten we are dealing with a Thinkpad. F12 it is, at least on my old T21.
     
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