“Better safe than sorry.” As computers become more and more a
commodity item, with a new machine replacing an old every few
years, it is easy to forget about all that data left behind. To a
dumpster-diving agent of corporate espionage–or just a nosy
neighbor rooting through your trash–an abandoned PC is a
storehouse of secrets just waiting to be plucked.
Simply deleting files, or even formatting the disk, does nothing
to stop a determined snoop. This program, a powerful (and free!)
set of tools, promises to do something much more useful. Using a
variety of data-erasure algorithms (from fast and slightly-risky to
slow and suitable for James Bond), it will make sure nothing can
recover data from a discarded hard drive. Whether you’re passing an
old computer on to a child or co-worker, or tossing it in the
trash, this software helps ensure that no data remains.
I tested it on a 1-gig USB Drive. Given how easy it is to lose
those things–and how often they are used to transfer corporate
data–it seemed like a good test. As promised, it wiped every bit
off the drive, replacing them with zeroes. Even the drive’s boot
sector was wiped, as the documentation warned it would.
The program can be run from Windows (use it only on drives with
no open or active files) or it can be used to create bootable CD or
floppy disks. Once booted, the program can wipe Windows, DOS, or
*nix drive partitions.
This isn’t a file-by-file erasure tool; use it only when you
want an entire disk gone forever. While there are several stages of
“Are you sure?” to go through, once the program has done its job,
there is no turning back.