[ubuntu-uk] Shredding HDD data

Tyler J. Wagner tyler at tolaris.com
Wed Aug 11 14:15:32 BST 2010

On Wednesday 11 Aug 2010 11:01:16 Byte Soup wrote:
> One of my family wants to shred some HDDs before discarding them, or giving
> them away on freecycle. What application would you all recommend to do
> this? I have used "shred" to remove files, but I dont think it can do an
> entire disc (i.e. some previously deleted files)

I use shred to dispose of drives every month.

DBAN, as others have recommended, is handy. But you don't need it. You can 
boot on the disk you want to shred, or an Ubuntu Live CD (which has shred), or 
from a machine that has another boot disk and is cabled up to the target 
drive. Then shred the drive:

shred -v /dev/sdb

Yes, it works on drive devices. Yes, you can do it to a live drive, even one 
hosting the filesystem you booted from, and it will keep running. Very shortly 
after, the running system won't be good for much besides watching the output. 
-v will keep you informed of progress. It usually takes my server 48-72 hours 
to make 3-4 passes shredding a 500 GB SATA drive connected via a USB drive 

I doubt anyone will have the resources or motivation to recover a drive after 
even 1 pass of shred, much less the higher numbers recommended by security 


"... jingoism, racism, fear, religious fundamentalism: these are the
ways of appealing to people if you’re trying to organize a mass base
of support for policies that are really intended to crush them."
   -- Noam Chomsky, in "Understanding Power"

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