Why does Eraser crash, or what can I use instead?
November 22, 2008 7:53 AM   Subscribe

The Windows program called Eraser fails partway through erasing unused space on my drive. Why? Or, recommend a different, free drive erasing utility?

Eraser used to work for me. But for several versions (the last year or so?), it won't complete the "erase unused space" job. I set it to run overnight and it only ran for 30 minutes and erased 9 GBs.

I am running Windows XP SP3 on a three year old Dell system. No other programs running to speak of, no anti-virus or anything like that.

I downloaded the latest version here:

Anybody experienced this or could you recommend an alternative (preferably free) erasing program? I'm thinking of selling my computer once I upgrade to a new one, and I don't want my years of "deleted" data on the HDD.

posted by wastelands to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to wipe the drive before sale, use a wipe CD like DBan. Until then, if the drive doesn't leave your possession, what's the point of overwriting it constantly?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:21 AM on November 22, 2008

File Shredder does this.
posted by caddis at 9:12 AM on November 22, 2008

Response by poster: Inspector.Gadget: thanks, although I don't think that will work. I specifically want to delete free space, since I don't want to make whomever buys my computer having reinstall everything onto an empty disk. I can give them the XP OEM CD of course, but beginner users won't want to deal with that. Easier for me to "delete" everything personal off the drive, but leave the OS, Open Office, etc. so people have something to start from.

caddis: Thanks. That looks like it may work. I will give it a shot.
posted by wastelands at 1:25 PM on November 22, 2008

The eraser is a terrible program. Its notorious for messing up free space on hard drives and destroying windows installations. DO NOT USE ERASER. EVER.

If you just want to over-write the free space on your drive you can use sysinternal's sdelete. sdelete -z will just wipe free space.

I can give them the XP OEM CD of course, but beginner users won't want to deal with that.

You could always just wipe the disk with DBAN and then reinstall XP before selling it. Kind a pain, but much more secure.

I think for typical uses just deleting your profile and doing an sdelete -z is good. Perhaps install the trial version of CCleaner and running that once too.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:42 PM on November 22, 2008

Response by poster: damn dirty ape: Thanks. That looks good too.
posted by wastelands at 5:05 PM on November 22, 2008

if you want to use a program that totally deletes everything/writes over it look at killdisk

have had experience with it before (deleting drives from my University that we then gave away through a community outreach program) and it works quite well- though it is a time consuming process

from website:
If you use FDISK, FORMAT utilities, or DELETE standard operating system command for data removal, there is always a chance to recover deleted files (using undelete file or some data recovery software) and use against the owner's will. We highly recommend you to run this FREE utility for the hard and floppy drives you want to dispose of, recycle, re-use, sell or donate to somebody.

Active@ KillDisk conforms to US Department of Defense clearing and sanitizing standard DoD 5220.22-M. The most secure Gutmann's data destruction method is also implemented. You can be sure that once you clean up with Active@ KillDisk, sensitive information is purged out forever.
posted by knockoutking at 10:38 AM on November 24, 2008

Response by poster: knockoutking, I've used killdisk at a job before. Good program, but as stated above, not quite what I'm looking for. I've been using File Shredder and liking it.
posted by wastelands at 6:49 PM on November 25, 2008

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