Ever buy a used Hard Drive on Ebay or Craigslist? Ever look to see if there was any data on it? I have, and let me tell you, it is downright scary what people will leave on HDD’s when they sell them as used. I recently purchased 12 used 250 GB SATA HDD’s from Ebay for a NAS project I was working on, and of those 12, 9 of them had not been so much as formatted.

Of those 9, all but one had data that would have been usable for identity theft: files with credit card information, copies of bills, saved email that had account information, not to mention the astounding number of ummm, not safe for work pictures taken by (or of) the former owners. In all cases I could have contacted the former owner, as on all 9 drives I found current addresses and phone numbers for the former owners.

This is 2009, I would have thought that by now better than 25% of people selling used hard drives would know better.

As an IT Professional, I get used computers all the time (for some reason everyone I work with thinks I need every used machine I can get my hands on, especially if it has a “Designed for Windows 95!” sticker on it!). The ratio of these HDD’s that I get with data still on them is more like 95%. It’s easy to format a HDD, until you get one that just won’t format. Mostly the ones I’ve seen this on were disks that I installed an obscure linux distro on, and then for whatever reason decided to install Windows on. The Microsoft format tools are not always capable of handling partitions like this, which is where DBAN comes in.

Darik’s Boot And Nuke (or DBAN) is a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.

One of the really great things about DBAN is that it can run from a floppy, or be burned to a bootable CD, which means it can be used on almost any computer. Better than that, DBAN has many options for how it wipes the disk, ranging from the single pass “autonuke”, to the 35 pass random data Gutmann method, and of course DBAN also offers users a method for definable number of passes.

In short, DBAN excels at destroying all data on a Hard Disk. You can find more information on DBAN here.