ERASURE (HDD)           
 

Hard disk Drives,  ERASURES , can be very easy.  (2018 year centric)
I don't sell drives ever,  bad drives I crush, (15lb.sledge hammered) or if still good, I use it my external HDD USB cases.
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.
  • 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?)
  • 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.
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.
The Virus might hide be supported by data hiding in the NVRAM spare memory locations (again not if all power is remove first , and the COIN cell.
The Virus is not in the BIOS. (myths be damned)
There is no where else to hide a virus just the HDD so we erase it.  (not withstanding infected CD's, email, usb memory sticks and the like)
Warning: Do not accidentally erase the wrong drive,  best is to remove all drives in the system except the drive to be ERASED. (or it would be easy to do lots of damage , at a wrong click)

What eraser is best?
Well that depends on only 2 factors, cost, and level of Paranoia. (my 2 top factors, other folks have there own ideas on what is best)
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 takes  $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.
 CCleaner wipes it,  (3 pass), but does not do the boot track, and 
not HPA /DCO secret sectors. .
 

 DBAN  (we boot to USB or CD to run )
 

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 used for storage of your licenses on your OEM PC) It is safe data, space that only the OEM know where it is located, (a secret) that no Virus knows it exists.
I discount then need to erase this   HPA /DCO .
 
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.

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

The Non Option but Google loves to find (bad) is this.
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)


Next is KILLDISK ( only the paid version can do the  HPA/DCO secret sectors erasure paranoia deal)
In all cases, use an old PC (what eva') you have laying about and remove all valued HDD/SSD/M.2 Drives first, and last add the Drive to be Erased now.  (be safe first)
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 wins out on the USB boot option that I tested.  2018  new  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. (tried this on a very new  Z270 motherboard, and works there and my 10 year old laptop HP8540)
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).


 

Blancco , erase is a pain for home users, for 2 reasons, 1 product they sell expires dead in  1 year time and the other only does 1 drive, and goes dead for $20 each and every drive erased. 
Expiring support is cool, but expired  dead, un-cool IMO.
No lie this is a very good product, but no good home licenses exist , so is 100% Business class product.
If I can't put it  on a USB stick and it runs forever , I don't want it. (hint; lots of better fish in the sea)



The winner: (on the rule of many passes for free beating out killdisk above.) Is EaseUS:
In my opinion this one is best of all, free and for sure the $39 version (less with discounted coupon) The Win PE is bee's knees cool. (you could unplug all drives in  PC and then add say , one that needs wipe and boot PC and do so.

Easeus  Partition Manager Home edition which has drive wiper. (free version does this (2018) and only email address demanded, I use disposable email to do that) Run APP, click drive pin WIPE DATA.
1 to 10 passes you can pick , not only this but it can for $39, create windows PE boot disk and work this way, booted from USB or DVD-r (includes saving to ISO file).
2nd runner up is :
Same with Mini-Tools Partition wizard free (wipe disk)

Clear as day on free versions, one can add a  DTBE ,drive to be erased to your SATA or USB port, . and then erase away. Free of charge. ( this wins the free award)
One more hint, is to plug the DUE, the drive under Erase into your fastest SATA port, for faster Erase.  (learn that it can not erase any faster than the drive spins or allows.) (SED erase drive are lots faster to erase)

Why Erase? (erase is not delete they are not the same words or acts and the word WIPE implies erase yes.)
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. 
There is a thing call slack space (in a cluster) (besides erased and deleted files) DBAN does erase this too.. 
The tricky folks that want to not erase a whole disk ask how to delete, just slack space (endless  answers or risk that)
If slack space on the right has old data and is secret data , this needs to be erased! The top orange arrow is end of logical file space not physical, oops!


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)  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 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)

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 3 pass this tool has many limits, and MBR is one.

Speed of wipe 1 pass 1TB
3.5 hours, or 2 seconds on SED drive.
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)

I like this funny answer to wipe.  from one poster: (my guess too much free time?)
Fill the HDD with video movies,  vob,mkv, mp4 what ever you have and is the largest ones, first delete all things you don't want there, seen by you with hidden file attributes turned off, in explorer.
Fill the disk full video files. (the bigger the better , say full of Blue-Ray DISK images?40GB each?
Now all data space is full, of that video, erase it or now  , using even DBAN or Killdisk.  (a good video would be "Every thing to know about IRS tax code"  let them steal that.)


version 1.  12-3-2018  (The best for free is Dban, and Killdisk. (run off boot CD or boot USB stick and all other media removed)