ERASURE of Hard Disk Drives (HDD any disk of any kind)           
 

You are here because Windows installer does not like your HDD format,  well Windows does in fact reject  over 100 different formats , most are ALIEN. (it will reject far more, with corruption in any partition)
The installer will not like installing over any GPT partition to MBR or the reverse this and  is now a security block;  the cure is to erase the disk first.
or you just  want to erase data before selling you old HDD /SDD for security reasons.
The most easy ways to erase if Windows boots up and runs now  is inside Disk Manager of Windows, just  right click a drive, (not your boot drive) and pick delete volume. (I don't trust it... but sure most easy wins there.
The Windows boot installer media, we can  click blue screen REPAIR my computer, then Advanced and last  and using command prompt (using same rules seen here)
The below are the HEAVY HITTERS, No matter what is wrong (not bad HDD)  it works and is complete. A.K.A as security erasure applications, or Apps for short.
In all cases we test the HDD First using SMART checks utilities.. or on any external HDD.
The best apps are free (vast) and do at least  a 1 pass of 0's on the drive, and more than good for any home users, not a criminal. (if running a business, we crush drives no longer wanted)
Microsoft has no wipe or true erase features. (no yet) but is not ever a problem finding one , as this page approves. (I use killdisk.exe)


Hard disk Drives,  ERASURES , can be very easy.  Do not erase the boot drive live, as it runs now,  (like deleting a cars tires at 50MPH a hopelessly bad idea)

I like using Killdisk.exe best, it runs in windows or DOS and works best and is free. (if the above fails use killdisk) I use this for alien drives, say MAC to  PC , LINUX to PC, alien formats are that.
In a MAC use this.( or see the comments on NTFS/FAT32/exFAT/HFS+ below)
First off, learn to backup your data first. (OK?)
If all you want to do is wipe (truely)  only some Partitions,  I use  AOMEI partition wipe feature,  first then secondly I  delete said partitions (no, do not delete C: booted live active partitions).
To only delete a partition of photos of grandma cooking rhubarb
pie, I do this.
Best is this way. (wipe data first then delete things last)

AOMEI Partition Assistant(free)

The best way is seeing all disks at one time on the PC so you do not get the wrong drive, nor wrong partition
I advice all partitions and drives all have volume names and partition names first, again not to make a crying towel error.


Lots of reasons exist to erase any HDD, (security, make Windows installer happy now  that all  alien formats are gone, or just feel like doing this for any reason)

I don't sell un-needed hard drives or bad drives ever, in all cases  I crush them, (15lb.sledge hammered) or if still good, I use it on my external HDD USB enclosure type case and erase , with killdisk.exe.
DOD/NSA/CIA now shreads HDD. (extreme) Hammering hard, it works just as well. (or drilling 1/4" (6mm) holes through the platters sure. infact 3 or more holes through the whole drive works great.)
There are lots of good reasons to erase any HDD data (true erase) 
  • Selling an old HDD or SSD. (even M.2) {you, not me} or selling a whole PC of any kind. ( or click new way here, above)
  • Buying any drive and you do not trust the seller or see the "Seagate wrapper " breached or are just paranoid like me it has kiddy porn on the drive (dang)  that some buyer returned  or is infected.
  • Windows Installer does not like the drive (normal sure on alien formatted drives, or even normal formatted drives that windows does not support upgrades, like XP to W10) (or Apple formatted?)
  • The HDD came from a Apple PC or MAC (HFS+) this PC program can read HFS MacDrive.  Next time format the MAC using FAT32 and both PCs can read the data. Or use exFAT MAC with snow leopard up)
  • If a Linux PC or from Android or Chrome note book and now you want to use it on real Windows PC, so erase it. (or use FAT32 or NTFS and both PCs can read the drive ,kernal 2.6+)
  • You have an infected drive, and you know that this is the cure (It sure is !) We test the drive first with Linux SMART tests, then erase it next and last fresh load W10. (ask the OEM PC maker for how to do that)
  • Or simply deleting one partition to expand another in to  the new space. (even Windows by it self can do that, shink or extend both)
A virus can hide in many places, but not in RAM , when ALL power is off, there is no data left in RAM, in fact is goes to random 1s and 0's for sure. 
 (RAM (DDR) is erased with no AC power cord attached and all huge sized batteries (laptops) removed . And PC not stuck in sleep mode
Yes if the RAM is infected and you use Windows 10 fastStartup feature, yes the (shutdown) saved image (hiberfil.sys) is now infected.  (so I do  not use fast startup ever)
99.99% of all viruses in the wild are on the HDD, the rumors of a  of virus hidding in the BIOS FLASH EEPROM (are pure lies and zero proof ever of this) 100% paranoia.
Lets be clear here,  zero power exists in the PC now, AC or DC power,  all power is removed,  and you erase the HDD on a good PC, there is no more virus there (99.99999) pure, just like the famous SOAP.
If wise erase using a drive enclosure, as 2nd USB drive. ( use killdisk.exe)

There is no where else to hide a virus just the HDD so we erase it.  (not withstanding infected CD's, emails, usb memory sticks and the like  ) The focus is YOUR  PC not the internet.
Warning: Do not accidentally erase the wrong drive.

The best way to erase is booted from a USB stick, and run say KILLDISK from that stick and only 1 to be erased HDD is present. (safe as moms arms)
Or boot to Linux media,  with your  home made USB thumb drive,  and lick TRY ME, and use linux to erase anything you want.

What eraser is best? (killdisk.exe ) wins in my book. (on all accounts , not NSA level 7 pass paranoia)
Well that depends on only 2 factors, cost, and level of your Paranoia (not a bad word here). (my 2 top factors, other folks have there own ideas on what is best or even SPEED)
For me , it is free and at least a  1 pass of zeros, makes me happy.
The other factor is all bytes on the drive are erased,  but maybe not HPA /DCO nor spared out damaged  sectors . (to do this magic some apps demand a  $40 bill (USD)
For sure all unused, all used and all slack space and the track 0 boot track will be fully erased, and DBAN does that well. (as does KILLDISK)
I will rank them by  best bang for the buck.
The best off all erase is found no new HDD and is SED, secure erasable disk, get the utility from the disk maker and have at it.
The FREE VERSION OF CCleaner wipes it,  (3 pass), but does not do the boot track, and 
not HPA /DCO secret sectors. Run CCLEANER then click TOOLS and see drive wiper.
Keep in mind erasing the BOOT drive the OS is now gone as is say the hidden Dell partition for Dells windows 10 recovery feature in there manual stated how to use it.)
Never clone any infected HDD or bad HDD, ever, never clone or copy any SMART failed drive, yes do try to recover data lost  , yes.

Next up is  DBAN  (we boot to USB or CD to run ) Now old as the hills, and is just linux wrapper.
 

Some OEM PCs have this special why to hide sectors on there HDD that you will never find and view !,  this is a  really bad idea, using  HPA/DCO  sectors. (see cures below)
(I think HPA is used for storage of your licenses on your OEM PC) It is safe data, space that only the OEM knows where it is located, (a secret) that no Virus knows it exists.
I do not worry those 2 locations called  HPA /DCO .  DBAN fails to erase those (new DBAN)  My Dell uses this for, Dell tools and recovery. (some folks will not want to erase these partition) Your PC your call.
 
Dban free
version: misses  (New DBAN does not support (inane  !) the common SAS drives seen in a vast sea servers  world wide, but v1.07 does)

HPA (Host Protected Area) – DBAN does not erase the HPA  These 2 marked in red are mostly paranoia worries.

DCO (Device Configuration Overlay) – DBAN does not erase the DCO either.

Remapped (bad) Sectors – DBAN does not erase bad sectors. (learn how HDD auto repair sectors works) The bad sectors are logically swapped to spares, even with 1 bit dead ! (erasing these are hard or $ )

DBAN does erase the MBR for sure.

The MBR might be infected or exploited  4096bit sized now,  The location is always track (cylinder) 0, side (head) 0, and sector 1    Notice how big this sector is now, lots of space at the end to infect) hint hint.

Option 2: GOOD OLD LINUX. (free it is)
Boot to Linux and free of cost this works. (even the DEMO disk works ! )

Read the wiki on it. (Linux commands) to erase HDD. (cost zero)


Near useless now, the free NSA secure erase 2008 last update and does not work with modern SATA drives (shows this HDD0 = none, etc) unless you force the SATA chip to IDE mode, (and really too tedious doing that)
The above does run under Rufus freeDos no problem, but can't find my SATA chips. (My guess what ever kernel is inside is brain dead for most modern South bridges in PCs) RIP
Option 3:
Wipedrive ($50) too much, for one drive. I can  buy  a new 1TB HDD for $35 ,why spend $50 to erase it. (home use)
Option 4: some HDD have a built in erase features, read your HDD manual at your HDD OEM makers web site, read about SED drive, secure erase drives.  (SED erase drive are lots faster to erase)
Opton 5: Is Killdisk my favorite.


KILLDISK: #1 in my book is this:
Next and my most favorite way is to use KILLDISK.exe ( only the paid version can do the  HPA/DCO secret sectors erasure paranoia deal)
This is for erasing the non BOOT HDD of any kind, (HDD/SSD, M.2 gum stick drives)
Thus is a great free product and also advanced paid product.  (I tested the newest Linux based version and the oldest DOS version , both worked !)
Killdisks   runs on a  USB boot drive (mem stick) option that I tested.  2018  new portable version.
Killdisk?   free does only 1 pass "zeros", the "Boot Disk Creator" launches at the get go for USB burn. 
The PRO version is better but is costly at  $39 and will do  vast types of passes  and has Windows PE command  center and Linux for a total of 3 centers to choose (GUI)

Both with Bootable CD/DVD/ISO/USB disk creator this feature USB is winner for free !
Install the above linked package, insert even as small as 128MB USB stick in PC,($2 cost)
Then and after the install on the PC,use the run box, type "boot disk creator", run that, pick USB then initialize the disk first(option) and then press next and bingo. 32MB sized and tiny!
The USB is now inviable to Windows,OS, (Linux structures reason) now test your boot stick by putting in any PC and using the boot menu or BIOS boot order to get the stick to boot first.

Killdisk has  sector viewer I LOVE,  you can see what is there, first or after, to see  that YES , endless zero written.
The OLD DOS version works too:
For fun I tested The DOS version 2008 of Killdisk, v4.1 and booted the CD and it works great.  ( even on a brand  new Z270p PC)
7MB sized ISO is tiny.
V4.1 even erased a 30GB drive, on USB2 HDD caddy port, in 30mins , slow ssd, and slow USB2. (but just wanted to prove DOS can do this , it showed up as drive port 84h.)
The ISO is here in zip file with docs. (free imgburn will burn the CD with 2 clicks of ISO).

Other APP's ( program applications), are many and vast but here are a few:
I like to avoid crippleware, works now but not later or does not work at all now must pay or works now but  only does some files erased or some partitions but not all.
Free and major features not dead, or die soon or are limited by file counts et cetra.


(if still free today) Time  and facts change fast  in the computer world as to APPS.

Keep in mind that doing a 1 pass is fast, doing 3 or more passes of  0 then 1s then 0s will take forever on a 10TB drive. I say go 1 pass. (30hour here not 90 hours) see?

In my opinion this one is best of all, free , and 1 pass)
 The Win PE boot up used, is bee's knees cool. (you could unplug all drives in  PC and then add  just one HDD to erase taking no risks.
Booting to virus free Win PC disk is best or even Linux media.
Same with Mini-Tools Partition wizard free (wipe disk)

AOMEI partition tools. wins too. Wipe hard drive or partition, is  free, as is there great Backerupper app.

Clear as day on free versions are best in my book,  I do not need paranoia erasures, here. In the end I pick KILLDISK!  or AOMEI or Linux. (or windows PE 7 with say 3 top eraser apps on this boot media?)

Why Erase? (erase is not delete they are not the same words or acts and the word WIPE implies erase yes.)

This is NOT PARANOIA here, this is real and imporant.

This is simple ,because Windows (or any OS) does not erase bytes of data, it only marks them for deletion, (the marker if curious is a "?" mark) The marker means deleted,  but is  ok to over write at any time.
There are active data space, free empty never used space, and deleted space and dead unused sector space, and slack space.
There is a thing call slack space (in a cluster) (besides erased and deleted files) DBAN does erase this too.. 
The tricky folks want to erase only slack space on a HDD then do so and great risk and lose data, do not do that on disk full of unbacked up data.
This is how the cops find bad guys. reading all files, all deleted files then THIS last (SLACK)

One can learn fast what SLACK is easy by using  binary hex hdd  sector editor or viewer, like that seen in KILLDISK package.
There are vast programs (called apps now) that can un-delete files offered today and all the way back to mighty Mr. Peter Norton (and his famous Norton Utilities).
Today even Windows can erase the command Cipher (at a cmd.exe prompt) type Cipher /? to see all commands or this to erase. or this cipher /w:C:\  (see here easy)
Microsoft offers a free Windows Sysinternals program called SDelete
The first thing to do is turn off the silly windows blinders, called folder Explorer View, TURN OFF hidden files[hide] and folders first. DO not work BLIND.


HDD:  The Hard Disk DRIVE (spinners or RUST DRIVES)  is really a magnetic storage media.
The atoms in the disc platters store data (track/cylinders) at the atomic level, atomic magnets. Per below:  (this is what the HEADS READ)
This bound current is due to the sum of atomic sized current loops and the spin of the subatomic particles such as electrons that make up the material.) "organic chemistry or pure physics atomic" Spin is only tool to understand"
Now the paranoia can rear its ugly head, some forensic labs can pull data off a HDD using a special machine that holds your removed disc platters alone and can read the weak data. (CIA fear) latent phantom data !
This springs forth , writing many patterns (passes) over and over, 11111111, 0000000, 10101010  and 01010101. (or 35 passes to Erase , rules) as seen deep inside CCLEANER, seen below.
CCcleaner does 1,3,,7 and 35 passes (3 max is good in my book) drive wiper, do not get confuse free space and   drive wipe here.

The erase command that only writes one pass of 0000000 (byte) will  be good enough for the average person, and me (not CIA and not folks doing things illegal)
If your HDD has the SED or FIPS option we use that to erase. (first)
If you use many passes on a HDD say 2TB it might take all week to erase.  (your call, erase it or crush it)  3 pass may take a day or 2.

Way are HDD more problematic besides being slow?
Only the HDD has this atomic atom latent image issue, (electron spin), and the SSD does not.
The SSD is pure digital , that   is really electron charge  on a floating gate of MOS Transistor.  EEPROMs  (Good luck on Hybrid drives, I've no clue but I'd treat it as a HDD)
The Erase on any SSD discharges those MOS gates very very will (using say Cipher)   This utility does not do WIPE, it only erases free space and deleted space, so delete first then use Cipher /w/h (X:\)
The beauty of cipher (inside windows) is I  can go to a folder, delete just its contents the cipher erase just that folder: But my web page here is really about full WIPING fully seen below.

Step one on any media like this is to read the label first on the drive, then get the data sheet and read it.
See if SED is there and learn to use it, most makers offer a free tool to erase there drive, properly, for selling  it. (say)
One trick I do is use my Windows 7, PE boot disk (DVD) with a suite of free erase tools on it and boot that and erase any drive in the system (using no BOOTED HDD) or a PE boot stick (USB)
C/NET covers SSD erase here, using Parted Magic

One way to wipe a drive before selling it,  is to  use and external HDD chassis, and USB cable.
Then use CCleaners wipe drive (3x)
I do 1 pass this tool has many limits, and MBR is one.

Speed of wipe 1 pass 1TB  3.5 hours, (read and weep?) do not do 3 pass.
 or 2 seconds on SED drive. SED means fancy Secure Erase drive, with built-in erase features)
2 pass double that. etc.



Nothing less than amazing, this link below!
Can we see inside atoms, no, but now we can see the actual atoms seen here, (this one line explains way we use mental images (spin) explains how magnets work (atomic particles)

Good old MS COMMAND PROMPT, or from Booted installer media or from CMD.exe run in the run box as admin. (elevated command prompt)

Now a click list (even move HDD to 2nd good PC and do step 4 with CMD.exe and to #1l.)

  1. boot w10 installer from USB port  (or use the start + RUN box , cmd.exe )
  2. click repair your computer
  3. click advanced.
  4. click command prompt
  5. type DISKPART (no space) enter, each command is executed by ENTER key.
  6. type LIST DISK (with space)
  7. See list of disks, find yours carefully by # (number)
  8. Type select disk # (with space)
  9. Type clean.
  10. Wait for it to finish.
  11. and type EXIT.
That is it, now the Windows 10 installer will like your new fresh clean HDD/SDD.
The Diskpart command clear does not wipe data, do not ever use  this if your HDD has private banking data (for example) on any partition.

or not.
Here are some NOTs


The commands can fail if the format is damaged or alien or even a bad HDD, drives 5 year old and older are very suspect.

other errors are MBR format not possible on UEFI enabled BOIS ( so change it)

error 2, can't have dynamic volumes there.

error 3, contains important data wording, do as you please, ignore this. just do it. (of you are backed up ignore this)

error 4, GPT volume not allowed

error 5, going deeper than 4 partitions,,  MBR 4 primary max. GPT is 128 parts.

There are more errors possible for sure bad hdd, or  corrupted partition and frankly endless, really

erase the drive,using KILLDISK as seen above



In the same Vein , HOW  to delete  one partition and not need to wipe it  first.
We only need to type into the run search box (start button) Diskmgmt.msc. (or use control panel + admin tools + computer managment + Disk Manager)  1 click or 4 click or 1, your choice.
See my photo below, to wipe first see here.






Now some more paranoia: ( The CIA/NSA/DOD/etc. crushes/ or/ shreds  the drive, if that gives you a  clue good)
The HDD is S.M.A.R .T  drive this brain inside, as I call it does in fact repair bad sectors found endlessly, on the HDD as they are found using spare repair sectors. (the Brain logically swaps sectors from old to new)
When the spares go dry (none left) the HDD IS BAD (useless as a brick) and no software on earth can repair a bad hdd, in fact the top maker even prevents that (attempts)
The HDD does endless self repairs, even for 5 long years, then when out of spare clusters,  the HDD S.M.A.R.T brain shows "fail" the drive is dead, and my not like being erased, so crushing is best)
This  fact the SMART brain, can leave   old data lingering .  also spared out bad clusters may have old data there only the POLICE can find. ( crush all bad or old drives is the best practics)
Brain as in Alan Turing brain. (and AI) All HDD made go bad from day one the brain repairs your drive full time until the spares are used up. wiki S.M.A.R.T and read.

No matter what you do NSA can read your HDD, after the erase, (might) there are machines that the use , that the Forensic lab uses that remove your patters, and can read latent domain data or read data
that leaked to side of tracks (cylinders they are called and data is stored on sectors of a track. 
This latent data might be read by what I call the NSA effect.
I forget all that , all I care is the act of erasing all viruses and data, on any HDD. that is it over and out.
When I get done with any HDD I in fact, crush it.  ( I only worry PASSwords, but I do not store them in my PC) I use paper books to store key passwords and the general ones using LASTPASS.com (free)
Good luck to you.


version 5.  12-3-2018   I uses killdisk.exe or AOMEI partition tools free.