Disk Wipe – Why & How

Computers have become more widespread than ever, with every business and organization usually relying to some extent on these information machines. They facilitate the performance of many otherwise tedious tasks within any organization, and really help to boost productivity.

Many measures have been developed to help protect data from unauthorized access. These include password protection schemes, encryption, and so on, which can provide layers of security to shield important information. But in general, these schemes are still, at least in theory, not entirely foolproof. Given enough time and resources, dedicated hackers would still be able to break the codes and access the data within.

Physical protection of the digital storage devices is also another option. However, this is not always feasible, or even possible. And when the hard disks containing the confidential information are to be disposed of or transferred to other locations, this physical security may not be possible to be retained.

In these cases, there is another way to ensure that data is inaccessible, and that is to perform the disk wipe operation. A disk wipe permanently and securely deletes all information on a hard disk, leaving virtually no chances for recovery. These utilities are necessary because ordinary file deletion or even hard disk reformatting does not actually delete data for good.

To securely and permanently delete single files or groups of files, software utilities known as file shredders are used. These file shredders take deletion one step further by actually physically overwriting the shredded file on the disk with randomized data. That is, instead of leaving most of the file data intact on the disk, file shredders actually replace this data with random, uncorrelated information. This makes it much harder, if not nearly impossible, to be able to recover the original data.

A disk wipe, on the other hand, physically overwrites the data on the hard drive with random sets of data. That is, the data is garbled by the disk wipe software to make it almost impossible to be recovered. The entire hard disk is then overwritten with random data so as to eliminate all traces of the data that was previously on the hard disk. The benefit of performing a disk wipe is obvious. The chances of recovering deleted data from the hard disk are greatly reduced and almost disappear.

And it is rather easy to wipe a hard disk. All that is needed is a copy of the disk wipe software to be used on some removable storage media. Typically, when this removable media is connected to a hard disk, the disk wipe software automatically executes and performs the wipe. This makes it possible to perform disk wipes in bulk, which is a good thing for companies and large organizations.

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