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Howto Securely Wipe A Harddrive With Linux

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Howto Securely Wipe A Harddrive With Linux
By drendeah

During this tutorial you will learn why it is important to wipe a harddrive and how to do it.

First of all, some explanations. A lot of people use storage media (such as hard drives, USB sticks, etc), and keep their private data there. Private data may include personal photos, that nobody should see, personal chat logs, credit card information, private projects you work on, and so on. Of course you don't want all this data to get into the hands of somebody you don't trust, or maybe you don't want anyone to see this private information.

Let's suppose that you use a separate hard drive to store all this private information. The hard drive is small, and you don't have any space left. You decide to buy a bigger hard drive. You go on and buy the new hard drive, and begin moving the files from one hard drive to another. You make sure there is nothing left on the old hard drive and indeed it's 100% free. Now, let's further suppose that you give this old hard drive, as a gift, to some friend of yours. What happens next is your worse nightmare. All your sensitive data is in your friends hand. Even if he is your friend, he has no right to hold that data. You wonder what is wrong, after all, you deleted the files didn't you?

Well, what went wrong is that, by simply deleting the files and directories, you won't achieve much. Files can be recovered after deletion. So just deleting them won't help. For the purpose of completely wiping the data, we can use a specially designed linux tool, called "shred".

For the purpose of giving some examples of "shred" usage we will be using a fresh install of Ubuntu 8.04.1. shred should already be installed, and ready to use.

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