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Does DBAN really erase everything?

I’ve used DBan on several occasions and it does appear to completely wipe
the hard drive. I thought I read somewhere recently that this might not be the
case. What’s your opinion?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #59
, I look at a minor security issue with DBan.

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DBan – Darik’s Boot And Nuke

Well, my opinion is actually that DBan is more than sufficient for most of
what you want to do.

If you’re giving away a hard drive, running DBan on it is going to overwrite
the data that you care about, the data that you stored on your machine.

Now, there is an article that I found (actually, it’s several
articles out there) that actually shows some things about DBan; specifically,
that it may not always be erasing absolutely everything on the hard drive. But
in most cases (and I will say most cases), the little things that it
leaves behind aren’t particularly important; aren’t things that you may care
about.

So I will link to an article, “Securely erase a hard drive; DBan may not be sufficient” in
the notes for this recording.

Disk partitions

But I will say this. The most common scenario where DBan didn’t erase what
you thought it did is if it only erases a specific partition and you have
multiple partitions on your hard drive.

Now, DBan is supposed to erase the entire hard disk. I understand that. But
it is possible to mistakenly delete or overwrite only a single partition. So
it’s important to use DBan properly and to use it in such a way that it does
erase the entire hard drive.

Confident in DBan

But technological nit-picking aside, I am more than secure in my own
situation where I give away hard drives by simply running DBan and making sure
that it actually erases the entire hard drive.

Like I said, that is 99.9% (actually, it is probably even more than that) of
the data that you honestly, truly care about making sure doesn’t get into
other people’s hands.

So, go ahead and continue to use DBan; continue to use it when you give away
hard drives, when you are getting rid of hard drives of any form, to ensure
that the data you care about isn’t also something that you’re giving
away.

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8 comments on “Does DBAN really erase everything?”

  1. Does it matter?

    if the data potentially on that drive is that sensitive, take a sledgehammer to the thing.

    If its not, run DBAN and get on with your life.

    Reply
  2. Leo,

    If I recall correctly, I remember reading an article that stated hard drives ingnore areas identified as damaged or corrupt. When a drive is wiped or formatted, these areas are untouched and may be accessible with recovery software of forensic tools. Do you know if this is true or if DBAN is able to wipe these areas, should they exist?

    Reply
  3. I use a small 15 line debug script that DOES eliminate everything. It puts the H.D. back to the way it came out of the factory. I guess that you could pick out individual bits from the platter, but I don’t know if it would be of any value.

    Reply
  4. @Mick: I am also very interested in your 15-line debug script. Is there some way you could point me to it, please. Thanks very much.

    Reply
  5. DBAN will erase the contents of every hard drive that it finds. (This from the DBAN site and also displayed when running.)
    Beware if you have more than your C: drive in the computer. Disconnect all except the one you want to erase.

    Reply

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