Wiping hard drives before computer transfer

Marty Hoag Marty.Hoag at ndsu.nodak.edu
Thu Jan 23 22:14:16 GMT 2003

    I'm curious what others are doing to remove data and
software from hard drives of surplused or "passed down"
PCs and Macs.  Besides things like FERPA and licensed
software concerns, there could be some liability if we
passed along a machine which had already be compromised
and potential embarrassment of revealing old data.

    As a public institution we are to either pass along
the systems internally or send them to purchasing as
surplus (they often old spot silent auctions on the old
stuff).  Our "Lan Group" provides desktop support to many
departments on campus and is often requested to remove
the old data but I suspect some machines are getting
through to surplus or to some other department without
expert attention.

    Doing some Google searches reveals a plethora of
products available with wildly different pricing
models (e.g. per wipe, per technician, etc.).  One
staff member created a Linux bootable CD-ROM with
an open source tool but that took 6 hours to wipe
a 20 GB hard drive (doing 7 passes).  I had tested
Symantec's gdisk on a 10 GB drive doing the "DoDwipe"
(also supposedly 7 passes) and that took little more
than an hour.  I ran across web pages for things like
PDWIPE, Disk Wipe, Wipedrv, Paragon Disk Wiper, Wipe,
gdisk, and Declasfy.  I know nothing about Macs so I
don't know what is available for them.

    In our distributed environment it would be nice
to have an institutional license for something on a
bootable floppy and cd-rom which: the end user could
just boot, would list the disks on the system, ask
the user to confirm, then just do its thing.

    Anyway, I'd be curious about policy and software
(or hardware) solutions.  I'm most interested in cases
where you do NOT want to destroy the drive itself since
that is pretty easy given a few tools a big enough
sledge hammer.  Depending on the responses I'd be glad
to summarize the comments.   Thanks!


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