Destroy & Erase Data Like A Pro With These 5 Free Hard Drive Wipe Tools

You want to sell your old computer and you’ve heard that you should securely erase hard drive data first, but how?

There’s a bunch of free hard drive wipe tools available that can make erasing data a breeze, and will ensure that your personal information is permanently and professionally erased.

In descending order, these are what we consider to be the top 5 picks available in 2018…

Our Top 5 Free Hard Drive Wipe Tools for 2018

5. Macrorit Data Wiper

Rating: 3/5 stars 

The Macrorit Data Wiper enables you to permanently wipe data from separate sections or even the entire disk. There’s also a high-speed feature that lets you wipe sensitive data much quicker.

The good:

  • This program deletes the data through sanitization methods such as DoD 5220.22-M, DoD 5220.28-STD, Random Data and Write Zero.
  • It’s dead easy to use. All you have to do is select the wipe target, security method, and click “Wipe Now”.

The bad:

  • This is a Windows-only tool and can only be used on Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP.

4. HDD LLF Low Level Format Tool

Rating: 3.5/5 stars 

As the name suggests, this is a low-level free hard drive wipe tool and it erases the whole surface of the disk, thus making data restoration afterwards mission impossible.

The good:

  • This tool supports SAS, SATA, IDE, USB, SCSI and Firewire hard drives. It’s also compatible with MemoryStick, SSD, MMC and CompactFlash media.
  • Using the HDD LLF Low Level Format Tool is pretty straightforward – simply choose the device that you’d like to be wiped and click “Format This Device”.

The bad:

  • There’s a 180 GB speed cap, although you can have that removed if you pay $3.

3. KillDisk

Rating: 3.5/5 stars 

KillDisk is a hard drive eraser tool that has a free version that utilizes the one-pass zeros sanitation method. This tool lets you permanently wipe data on hard drives, camera flash cards, RAID disk arrays, USBs and SCSI storage devices.

The good:

  • There are both Win 32 and 64-bit executables and DOS executables included, plus you can wipe other hard drives running on different operating system like Linux, OS X etc., by using bootable wipe.
  • Using KillDisk is easy – simply pick the disk/device that you want to be formatted and hit “Kill”.

The bad:

  • Nil.

2. Eraser

Rating: 4/5 stars 

This is yet another tool that lets you completely erase all sensitive data on your hard drives. Eraser is an open-source software that only works on Windows and relies on complicated algorithms by overwriting and shredding the files on the hard drive more than once delete them in an efficient and adequate manner.

The good:

  • Supports the following sanitization techniques – Guttmann, Random Data, Schneier, RCMP TSSIT OPS-II, GOST R 50739-95, DoD 5220.22-M, AFSSI-50-20. HMG IS5, AR 380-19 and VSITR.
  • Using Eraser is a breeze as all that you have to do is right-click on a file, folder or disk, then click on the Eraser icon and hit the “Erase” button.

The bad:

  • Only works on Windows.

1. Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBan)

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Arguably the best free hard drive wipe software to the DoD standard. You’ll hardly find a disk wipe review that doesn’t praise DBan. It works on all kinds of operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Mac OS etc.

In order to use the DBan data wiping software, you have to burn a copy of DBan on a CD, then restart your computer and choose the boot from CD option. After that, you’ll see the DBan interface and you can type “autonuke” for the automatic mode or press Enter to use the interactive mode.

Then you have to select a wiping method (the M key), a verify method (by pressing V), select a hard drive to wipe (Space) and when you’re ready, simply press F10 and the data wiping process will start.

The good:

  • It comes with a lot of supported sanitation methods including DoD 5220.22-M, Gutmann, Write Zero, RCMP TSSIT OPS-II and Random Data. You can essentially use this tool both for emergency or bulk data wipe, depending on your needs.

The bad:

  • You may need a third-party ISO burner and possibly some extra outside advice to organise a bootable CD for DBan.
  • You need to boot your computer from a USB device if you choose this method.

Why Is It Important To Securely Erase Hard Drive Data?

Because identity fraud is skyrocketing on a global scale.

16.7 million people were victims of identity fraud in 2017 in the US alone. And cybercrime continues to spread with attacks and breaches increasing by 44.7% during the same period.

What this means is that if you don’t properly erase all the data on your hard drive, there’s a high likelihood of it falling into the wrong hands. Professional scammers know how to recover data from hard drives, even if you thought that the data was permanently deleted.

Understanding How Data Wiping Standards Differ

There are different data wiping standards that rely on different ways of erasing data. And your industry may stipulate the use of a particular method over another (Government require DoD, for instance). Not all free hard drive wipe software will use these standards, so be sure to check for compliance.

These are the most popular ones and how they work:

  • DoD 5220.22-M – It has three passes: pass one writes a 0 and verifies it, pass two writes a 1 and verifies it, and pass three writes a random character and verifies the write.
  • Gutmann – This method utilizes a random character throughout its 1 to 35 passes, with some complex overwriting patterns in-between.
  • AFSSI-5020 – Similar to DoD 5220.22-M. It has three passes (one with 0, one with 1 and one with a random character) but sometimes it may differ in the order and number of passes.
  • Schneier – The Schneier method generally has seven passes: one with ones, one with zeros, and five with random characters.
  • Write Zero – The name speaks for itself. Here, there is usually only a single pass and it overwrites all data with zeros.
  • Random – This method may utilize one or many (up to twenty or even thirty) passes and every single pass writes a random character.

What About Bulk Ways To Securely Erase Hard Drive Data?

Free may work in small batches for individual use, but these DIY, free hard drive wipe options do not offer guarantees, certificates of data destruction (for liability), and the labor cost of running the software on individual computers can add up to a significant sum…

Off-site hard drive shredding services are perfect for organizations looking to securely dispose of large quantities of storage media. Using options such as data wiping, media degaussing, and hard drive shredding, we can ensure your legal obligations for data privacy protection are met.

Arrange a pickup or find a drop-off location near you.

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