How to Wipe a Hard Drive

It's a good idea to wipe your hard drive before selling hardware or after purchasing a used computer.

How to wipe a hard drive

Wiping a hard drive may sound like something a person who diligently cleans their computer hardware does, but in computing, it means permanently deleting all the data on a storage unit. There are several good reasons why you may want to wipe your hard drive. Perhaps you want to protect your privacy before selling or giving away your hardware. Or maybe, you want to start fresh after buying a preowned computer.

You may even want to wipe a hard drive that you suspect carries some stubborn or sneaky malware. Though you may also have hardware problems that look like malware problems, so check for all issues before taking a drastic step.

Please also backup your essential data, such as your cryptocurrency, pictures, documents, and video game save files because you’ll lose everything for good. Once you’re ready, try any of the following software or hardware options:

How to wipe a hard drive - Windows 10

  1. Press the Windows key.
  2. Type “Settings” to find the Settings app.
  3. Open Settings.
  4. Click Update & Security.
  5. Click Recovery.
  6. Click Get Started.
  7. Use the Remove everything option.
  8. Chose Local reinstall.
  9. Select Wipe the drive after clicking Change Settings
  10. Click Confirm.
  11. Click Next.
  12. Click Reset.

How to wipe a hard drive - Windows 11

  1. Press the Windows key.
  2. Type “Settings” to find the Settings app.
  3. Open Settings.
  4. Click Update & Security.
  5. Click Recovery.
  6. Click Reset PC.
  7. Use the Remove everything option.
  8. Chose Local reinstall or Cloud download.
  9. Find and click Change settings in Additional settings.
  10. Enable Clean data.
  11. Click Confirm.
  12. Click Next.
  13. Click Reset.

How to wipe an SSD

Check if you have an SSD or HDD because solid-state drives, while faster and more efficient than hard disk drives, are trickier to format. The steps listed above for Windows 10 and Windows 11 aren’t always comprehensive enough to wipe an SSD. Even after using the Windows tools to format your SSD, you may leave behind fragments of data that could put your privacy at risk.

Thankfully, you have several options at your disposal:

BIOS

  1. Restart your computer.
  2. Enter your Bios.
  3. Find the storage drive you want to wipe.
  4. Find a Secure Erase option.
  5. Use Secure Erase to wipe your drive.

Manufacturer Software

Visit your storage drive’s manufacturer’s website to find maintenance software that allows you to wipe your drive. This is one of the best ways to format your drive securely and completely. For example, you can use Samsung Magic to manage your Samsung SSD.

Third-Party Software

Some third-party tools can also help you erase your drive securely. These tools are user-friendly and also powerful. HP recommends GParted and EaseUS as the best options. Other reputable alternatives include Disk Wipe, Active KillDisk Freeware, and AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard.

How to physically wipe your hard drive

It’s possible to wipe a hard disk drive with a magnetic force, though this won’t work for a solid-state drive because SSDs use electronic circuits instead of magnetic disks to store data. This step is drastic because it can permanently damage the hardware. It’s best to use this option for a drive you’re throwing in the trash and have already wiped with software.

  1. Remove your HDD from the computer with a screwdriver.
  2. Place an extremely powerful magnet on one side of the drive.
  3. Wait for 5 minutes.
  4. Rub the drive thoroughly with the magnet.
  5. Flip the drive.
  6. Now, repeat step 2.
  7. Leave it there for another 5 minutes.
  8. Rub the magnet across the drive.
  9. For good measure, carefully drive some nails through the hard drive with a hammer.

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