What Happens During Hard Drive Wipe

What Happens During Hard Drive Wipe

Hard drive wipe refers to a secure wipe procedure that leaves no trace of data that is used to be stored on a wiped hard drive. This is usually done using special software programs designed for this purpose. It should be noted that erasing a hard drive is different and far safer than just deleting all the files that are on the hard drive.

This is because when a file is deleted, it is not completely deleted from the hard disk. What actually happens is that the file is only marked as deleted, and the hard disk space occupied is marked as ready for use. So the file is no longer listed in its directory. Also, the space where deleted files may actually be overwritten by new data is inserted into the hard disk.


For many applications and users, deleting this file might be enough. A more complete deletion will only be a waste of system resources, and as such is usually not applied. However, there are certain cases where wiping is safer that a hard drive wipe becomes desirable.

For example, computers that handle important information might eventually be moved, or replaced. In this case, it might be desirable to ensure that important information cannot be recovered afterwards, if a malicious act can be carried out with this data at hand. For example, financial information such as credit card numbers, account numbers, and balances can be recovered from hard drives that are recycled but not cleaned up.

Likewise, even personal computers can benefit from the removal of hard drives, for example when they are resold or given away. Simple precautions to erase a hard drive can prevent or at least reduce the risk of identity theft and the acquisition of other important personal information.

One of the easiest ways to erase a hard drive is to get a copy of the hard drive erasure program that can be automatically run from a CD or other removable storage device. In most cases, the process of erasing the hard drive then consists only of plugging in the storage device that contains the appropriate program to the computer for removal.

Hard drive erasure works by overwriting existing data with random data, often several times. This has the effect of covering up pre-existing data and making it almost impossible to recover. The number of overwritten standards ranges from seven to thirty-five overwriting data layers.

Hard drive removal also helps by being a more environmentally friendly alternative to physical destruction of the hard drive. When disposing of a hard drive that contains confidential information, the user might want to choose to make the drive physically usable. However, there are recycling facilities that will reuse hard drives. To do this, they are required by law to erase the hard drive so that making the previous data cannot be recovered.

Hard drive wipe is a useful procedure that is increasingly needed in this information age.