Re: Does reformatting really remove ALL infomation?

Re: Does reformatting really remove ALL infomation?

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Posted by Henry on December 04, 2001 at 08:58:31:

In Reply to: Does reformatting really remove ALL infomation? posted by shelly on December 01, 2001 at 07:46:01:

: i was wondering because a friend of mine said that even after re formatting (pc win.98) that the computer still keeps information. I have a computer that i want to give to a local school so i wish to make sure EVERYTHING is removed from harddrive.

: if reformatting doesn;t remove everything what should i do to really make sure that no previous information can be retrieved? is there special ways to reformat other than inserting the 'product recovery and diagnostic cd'?

: i hope someone can help me with this as i greatly appreciate it .

Simply deleting existing partitions, building new partitions and formatting the HDD overwrites/destroys LINKAGES to your data, BUT DOES NOT ERASE OR OVERWRITE ANY OTHER DATA. Anyone with a little knowledge and enough time can recover your personal files COMPLETELY. A safe way to "erase" data on an IDE HDD is to overwrite EVERY SECTOR of the data with zeroes. The utility or function to perform this is {incorrectly} called a "Low Level Format" utility; it does not format anything - it writes zeroes to every user accessible sector on a HDD. You can get one for your HDD from your HDD maker's web site; typically, it may be a standalone program for HDDs up to about 8.4GB or it may be included as a function in the HDD maker's diagnostic utility (might be an erase, clean, wipe, ... function). You WILL NOT HARM YOUR HDD if you use the HDD maker's utility found on the maker's web site; I DO NOT RECOMMEND using one maker's utilities on a different maker's HDD. Some mainboards now have a "low level format" function in CMOS Setup. I DO NOT HAVE personal experience with this function so I cannot attest to its safety, but I expect that it simply writes zeroes to every user accessible sector on the HDD.

If you want to donate your old HDD then you should "sterilize" the drive as indicated - write zeroes to every sector(aka perform pseudo low level format). Experts (like the FBI) can still recover your files using special tools (there IS a measurable difference between a bit that was zero to begin with and overwritten by zero and a bit that was one and overwritten by zero - your drive electronics ignore the difference, but that difference can be detected and your files can be restored) basically too expensive unless valuable files or criminal investigation. If you are REALLY paranoid - write zeroes multiple times.

The only way I know to really destroy data on a HDD is to disassemble it, degauss the platters then INCINERATE all parts until nothing but smoke signals remain.

You WILL NOT affect security of the data on your existing HDD by replacing it - UNLESS YOU WRITE ZEROES TO EVERY SECTOR ON IT.

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