Another project I had been wanting to try for a while was wiping old hard drives of computers I would like to recycle. Deleting all the files really just tells your hard drive that they aren’t there anymore. It doesn’t actually remove the coded bytes from the magnetic media. It is possible to still read the disk and see all your secrets.
I had been aware of Darik’s Boot And Nuke, but never got around to trying it out. This software can use several methods of erasing and overwriting your hard drive to thoroughly clean your data.
You downloaded it and burned it to a CD-R. Then I set up my old PC to boot from the CD-ROM drive, put the disk in, and restarted the PC. It booted up to a very basic text interface with a few options. I chose the Department of Defense 5220.22-M Short (3 passes) method. It took over an hour to run, so I am glad I didn’t choose 7 passes. Now my disk is safe to recycle, although to be really paranoid, I may take a hammer to it and throw it in a bonfire. You know…just in case.