Free hard drive eraser is a program that helps to wipe hard disk data completely. Hard drive eraser is important particularly when you want to dispose your computer hard drive or give it to a third person. In this situation, you have two choices about the hard disk either you give as it is with all your personal data or destroy the data before giving it.
Specially, if you were saving important and sensitive information on the hard disk, you should not allow anyone to have or see your data. You may think that deleting the files and formatting the disk will do the job; however, the truth is the other way. The data still resides on the disk even after deletion. It is only marked as “deleted” in the Windows file allocation table and not readable to the current operating system.
And, using hard disk data recovery software we can easily restore deleted data. That is why we use free hard drive eraser to make sure that the data is wiped completely and unreadable, so that it will not be recovered using recovery programs.
The best way to destroy hard drive data is damaging the hard disk physically or shredding the platters, which makes the hard drive unusable. This does not mean that data eraser is not effective, it does. If you use data eraser, it will make very difficult to recover the data even though you use best recovery program. Moreover, it depends on the type of free hard drive eraser you use.
Generally, data eraser wipes information by overwriting the existing file structure with new information several times or Zeroing the hard disk. This overwriting process will make the file unreadable and unusable. The more you overwrite, the harder is to recover the file.
Here is an excerpted article quoted from Active@KillDisk, that tells how their software erases data (by the way, Active@killDisk is one of the best free hard drive eraser software)
“Active@ KillDisk communicates with the system board Basic Input-Output Subsystem (BIOS) functions to access hardware directly. It uses Logical Block Addressing (LBA) access if necessary to clean FAT32 drives more than 8 Gb in size. To erase data it overwrites all addressable locations on the drive with zeros (FREE version). Active@ KillDisk Professional version suggests several methods for data destruction. For example, in US DoD 5220.22-M method it overwrites all addressable storage and indexing locations on the drive three times: with zeros (0x00), complement (0xFF) and random characters; and then verifies all writing procedures. This complies with the US DoD 5220.22-M security standard.”
To ease the selection of data eraser, the following tips will help
Popular free available hard drive erasers
If you are looking for free hard drive eraser, you may try one of the following applications. I have never tried both of them, but selected based on other users review.
So far Active@killdisk is the best data eraser among from freely available data eraser programs. It has professional version as well. It overwrites data using physical level one pass data destruction method. It supports SSD (unlike other disk type, SSD is encrypted by default which makes the destruction harder, but Active@killDisk will also take care this as well), IDE, SATA and SCSI drives. For more information visit www.killdisk.com
- Disk Wipe
Disk wipe is the other free hard drive eraser tool both for personal and commercial use. It will prevent recovery of data by filling useless data multiple times. It is released under GNU. It wipes data from partitions and disk volumes. Visit www.diskwipe.org for more information.
If you do not want to erase hard drive completely, but only selected files and folders, you can use digital file shredder utilities such as TuneUP utility, Heidi Eraser, File Shredder (freely available) and Zilla Data nuker (freely available).
Generally, no one tells for sure that data will be completely erased even after using free hard drive eraser. However, disk eraser can still help to wipe data permanently from computer hard disk and make it more difficult to recover back the files.
Hope this article has given you an insight about wiping data from your computer securely.