10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities

10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities

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10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities

10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities.  Data destruction software, sometimes called data sanitization software, disk wipe software, or hard drive eraser software is a software-based method of completelyerasing the data from a hard drive.

When you delete files and then empty the Recycle Bin, you don’t actually erase the information, you just delete the reference to it so the operating system can’t find it. All the data is still there and, unless it’s overwritten, can be easily recovered using file recovery software.

Data destruction software, however, truly does erase the data. Each data destruction program utilizes one or more data sanitization methods that can permanently overwrite the information on the drive.

If you need to remove all traces of a virus or you’re planning on recycling or disposing of your hard drive or computer, wiping your hard drive using data destruction software is the best way to protect yourself.

Note: Data destruction software is just one of several ways to completely erase a hard drive. Also, if a complete hard drive wipe isn’t wanted you’re after, check out my free file shredder software list for programs better suited for individual file destruction.

Below is a list of the best, completely free data destruction software programs available today:

1. DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke)

DBAN - Darik's Boot and Nuke - Data Destruction Software
Darik’s Boot and Nuke.

Darik’s Boot And Nuke, usually referred to as DBAN, is the best free data destruction software available.

DBAN is freely available in a ready-to-go ISO format so all you need to do is burn it to a CD or flash drive and then boot from it. The DBAN program’s menu interface is also very easy to use.

DBAN is an open source project.

DBAN is a great tool and should certainly be your first choice if wanting to completely erase a hard drive.

Because DBAN works from outside of the operating system, it can work with any version of any OS, like Windows, Mac, etc. More »

2. CBL Data Shredder

Screenshot of the CBL Data Shredder boot disc program
CBL Data Shredder.

CBL Data Shredder comes in two forms: you can either boot from it via a disc or USB stick (like with DBAN) or use it from within Windows like a regular program.

To erase the hard drive that’s running an operating system, you’re required to boot to the program, whereas deleting another internal or external drive can be done with the Windows version.

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The bootable version tells you how large each drive is but that’s about the only identifiable information given, whereas the Windows version makes it easier to know what drive you’re about to wipe clean.

The Windows version of CBL Data Shredder works with Windows XP through Windows 10.

3. HDShredder Free Edition

Screenshot of HDShredder in Windows XP

HDShredder is a data destruction program that’s available in two forms, both of which work with one data wipe method.

You can use HDShredder from a disc or flash drive and boot from it for erasing the drive that has Windows installed on it, like the C drive. Alternatively, you can install HDShredder to Windows like a regular program and use it for securely erasing data from a different drive like a flash drive or a different hard drive.

Note: Several additional features appear to work in this free edition until you try to use them, after which you’ll be told you need to upgrade to a paid version to use it.

The Windows version can be installed on Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP, as well as Windows Server 2003-2012.

4. HDDErase

HDDErase - Data Destruction Software

HDDErase is probably the best Secure Erase based data destruction software available.

The easiest way to use this software is from the bootable ISO image included with the download. You can also create any boot media you want (floppy, disc, flash drive, etc.) and copy the HDDERASE.EXE file to it.

The HDDerase program was created by researchers at the Center for Magnetic Recording Research (CMMR) at the University of California, San Diego, supported by a grant from the National Security Agency.

 

Important: CMMR, the University of California, nor the National Security Agency provide any kind of support for HDDErase but the information in the HDDEraseReadMe.txt file that accompanies the download should answer most questions you might have.

You can use any operating system (like any version of Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.) to create the bootable media. And because of how HDDErase is used (outside of the OS), you can erase any operating system with it.  10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities.

5. MHDD

MHDD - Data Destruction Software

MHDD is another data destruction tool that utilizes Secure Erase.

The thing I like best about the software is the variety of easy-to-use forms that it’s downloadable in. You can download an ISO file for disc or flash drive booting, a floppy image, the program itself ready for your own boot disk, and more. 10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities.

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Data Sanitization Methods: Secure Erase

There is plenty of documentation, a FAQ, and even a forum for the MHDD data destruction program, all accessible from their download page.

Download MHDD for Free

Note: only utilizes the Secure Erase method for data destruction if you use the FASTERASE option available in the program.

Like the bootable data destruction programs from above, MHDD can erase any hard drive so long as you use a working operating system to burn the program to a disc/floppy/drive.

6. PCDiskEraser

PCDiskEraser - Data Destruction Software

PCDiskEraser is a free data destruction program that runs before the computer boots up, like DBAN and the other programs from above.

Using PCDiskEraser is really easy because you simply select the disk that should be erased, confirm the selection, and then PCDiskEraser immediately begins shredding the whole disk.

Note: I was unable to use my mouse in PCDiskEraser even though a cursor was available. Also, I had to use the tab and space keys to move around within the program, which wasn’t a huge concern but did make using it a little harder than it had to be. 10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities.

7. KillDisk

Screenshot of KillDisk v10 in Windows 7
KillDisk v10.

In addition, Active KillDisk is a freeware, scaled-down version of the KillDisk Pro data destruction tool.

Data Sanitization Methods: Write Zero

Like the above bootable data destruction software, you can download a simple ISO file for burning to disc or USB drive. Also, You can also install a regular application to run KillDisk from within Windows. 10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities.

 

Unfortunately, some of KillDisk’s settings work only in the professional version.

KillDisk works in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. There’s also a Linux version available.

8. Format Command With Write Zero Option

Format Write Zero in Command Prompt From System Recovery Disc - Data Destruction Software
Format Write Zero in Command Prompt From System Recovery Disc.

Also, Beginning in Windows Vista, the format command was granted the ability to write zeros during the format, giving the command basic data destruction abilities.

 

Also, Since all Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista users already have the format command at their disposal. This is a quick and effective data destruction method. Granted. You won’t be able to satisfy some stringent data sanitization standards, but if that’s not a concern then this option is perfect.

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Important: The format command included with Windows XP and prior operating systems does not support this option. However, there is a way to use this method on a computer with Windows XP if you have access to another computer with Windows 7, 8, or 10. 10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities.

Also, Note: The instructions I link to here explain how to use the format command either as a data destruction tool from a bootable disc, enabling you to completely erase the primary drive, or as a way to erase any other drive from Command Prompt from within Windows.

9. Macrorit Data Wiper

Screenshot of Macrorit Data Wiper v3.2.1 in Windows 8

Macrorit Data Wiper is different than the above programs in that it doesn’t run from a bootable disc. Instead, you must open it from your computer like you would a regular program.

Data Sanitization Methods: DoD 5220.22-M, DoD 5220.28-STD, Random Data, Write Zero

The program has a very nice look to it and is super easy to use. Just select a hard drive that should be erased and choose a wiping method. Also, Click the large Wipe Now button, type “WIPE” in the box to confirm you want to continue. It is and then click Start to begin the process.

Windows is the only supported operating system. Also, and because you have to install Macrorit Data Wiper to the hard drive, you’re unable to use it to wipe the primary drive. 10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities.

I tested Macrorit Data Wiper in Windows 10 and Windows 8. But it also works in Windows 7, Vista, XP, and Server 2008 and 2003.

10. Eraser

Eraser - Data Destruction Software

Eraser is pretty easy to use and serves as a well-designed data destruction program with some unique features.

As far as advanced options go, Eraser wins the data destruction competition hands down. With the software, you can schedule data destruction with all the precision you’d expect with any scheduling tool.

Important: Because Eraser runs from within Windows. Also, You can not use the program to erase the drive that Windows runs on, usually C. Use a bootable data destruction software program from this list or see How To Format C for other options.

To conclude, Eraser works in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. Also, Eraser also works on Windows Server 2008 R2, 2008, and 2003.  10 Free Hard Drive Eraser Software Utilities.

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