Wiping a Hard Drive in 4 Easy Steps

When it’s time to
sell your computer, you’d want to wipe out the hard drive completely. After
all, you don’t want to leave any personal or work-related files that other
parties could exploit. In this post, we’ll show you how you can delete all the
data in your PC permanently.

Deleting vs Wiping Data

Anyone can delete
data. Moving items to the Trash Bin is not hard to do. But that’s not the same
as wiping data. A deleted file can be recovered through a file recovery program
or hardware. Formatting a hard drive before selling is good practice but even
that won’t be enough to wipe out data.

That said, you
need to be sure that you want to wipe out your hard drive before you proceed.
You will no longer be able to recover the wiped data after the process is complete.

Wiping Your Data

Follow the
instructions below to wipe data off your Windows 10 computer.

1: Do some prep work

Before you begin,
you need to prepare for the hard drive cleanup. Here are some of the things you
will need.

Data destruction software

You need to do some research. Some sanitization software can only wipe hard drives but not SSDs (solid state drives). You should also look for software that can work on bootable drives like flash drives if you’re wiping the entire computer.

Data Backup

Needless to say,
back up all important files before you proceed. You can copy-paste all your
data to a temporary location outside of the drive you’re wiping.

Explore your
backup options. In Windows 10, go to Windows
> Update & Security

Backup. Here you’ll find
several options for backing up your files.

Product Information

Be sure to have
all your product information on-hand. Make sure you secure serial numbers for
your Windows 7 OS, for example. You will need those if you’ll be reinstalling
software on another machine down the line.

Bootable Disk

You will need a
dedicated USB drive for your data destruction software. You won’t be able to
run an application in your computer if you’re wiping it clean. That’s why you
need to save the program on an external drive. Saving it on a CD would also

Most sanitization
programs are saved as an ISO image file. Simply copy-pasting the ISO file
wouldn’t work. Look into how to burn an ISO file to a CD or flash drive if
unsure how to continue.

Step 2: Do a Windows Reset First

Go to Windows Settings > Update & Recovery > Recovery. Under Reset This PC, click Get

You will then be
asked to choose an option. You can either keep all your files or remove
everything. Click Remove Everything.

Windows will
proceed to delete all your files.

Note: If asked whether you’d
like to not only remove files but also clean the drives, select Remove Files and Clean the Drive.

Step 3: Run the Data Wiping Program

Each program runs
differently but most come with easy-to-follow instructions. You will likely
need to reboot your computer to run the program. Insert the CD or flash drive
and then restart your PC. As it restarts, your PC should give you access to the
data destruction software.

If you’re having
trouble loading the program, you’ll likely need to make some changes in your
BIOS settings.

To access BIOS,
go to Windows Settings > Update and Security > Recovery. Under Advanced Startup, click Restart

On the next
screen, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Select UEFI Settings > Restart. This will open BIOS after the
system reboots.

interface will vary depending on what motherboard you use. However, all BIOS
will allow you to revise the boot order. Edit the order to prioritize CD/DVD or
removable devices. This will let your computer run the content of your CD or
flash drive respectively.

Step 4: Physically Wipe the Hard Drive (optional)

If there are no
plans to use the hard drive again, you should consider physically wiping it.
You can use a rare earth metal to do so. Others resort to dismantling the drive
by screwing it apart before disposing of the entire thing.