Wiping hard drives?
June 28, 2006 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Wiping non-Windows hard drives?

Can anyone recommend a program for wiping the drives on Sun, Linux, etc servers, we have lots of solutions for Win servers but nothing else.
posted by Cosine to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
If you want to nuke from orbit, then use DBAN.

If you're talking re-format for re-use, then each OS will have its own tools. What are you looking to do exactly?
posted by team lowkey at 11:35 AM on June 28, 2006

They need to be reusable, if not we would just degauss them.
posted by Cosine at 11:37 AM on June 28, 2006

Seconding DBAN. Connect your servers' drives to a spare x86 or PPC machine, boot DBAN, and poof.
posted by toxic at 11:43 AM on June 28, 2006

DBAN just makes the data unrecoverable. The physical disk will be re-usable, but DBAN won't format the drive for you. Is that what you're after, or are you looking for a formatting tool?
posted by team lowkey at 11:44 AM on June 28, 2006

You say "wiping." Do you mean so that others can't access the old data? How draconian does it need to be?

It should be noted that formatting your drive does virtually nothing for destroying the old data. Just formatting will not prevent someone from recovering the old data.

Under Linux, use wipe or shred. These work using a Gutmann method. Make sure you run the command on the device file (e.g. /dev/hda, /dev/sda).

If you just want to erase the whole drive, see man dd(1)

shred(1) is in coreutils on debian and ubuntu.
posted by omiethenull at 11:51 AM on June 28, 2006

We use Wipe Drive Pro 4 at work. Seems to work pretty well for us.
posted by smallerdemon at 12:00 PM on June 28, 2006

Please don't perpetuate the myth that the 35 pass Gutmann method does anything of value on modern drives. The drives his original paper targeted are nothing like drives of today. To quote the man himself, "For any modern PRML/EPRML drive, a few passes of random scrubbing is the best you can do."

Therefore, "dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/hdc" is really all you need.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:14 PM on June 28, 2006

That's probably referring to the fact that the drive will remap bad sectors. It is still helpful to run shred on a drive if there aren't a lot of sectors remapped. I'm not perpetuating any myths. There's not a lot you can do in the end to guarantee that absolutely no one can recover _any_ data from the drive short of physical actions.

But, good catch either way, Rhomboid.
posted by omiethenull at 12:24 PM on June 28, 2006

dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/hdc

may be quite a lot faster.

Even this will take a long time to scrub a modern-sized disk.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 12:38 PM on June 28, 2006

No, it has nothing whatsoever to do with bad sectors! The Gutmann method took advantage of specifics of the MFM and RLL encoding methods in use at the time. No drive made in decades still uses these. Read your own link for god's sake!
posted by Rhomboid at 1:05 PM on June 28, 2006

As a suggestion, KillDisk, complies with department of defenses sanitizing standards and still can be reused (zero fills drive). www.killdisk.com.
There is a free version and a licensed version, both run in DOS. I do not deal with this at the server level, but they might supply something more specific.
posted by lutzla23 at 1:10 PM on June 28, 2006

Thanks for all the suggestions however nearly all of them appear to be for x86 class processors, as I mentioned we already have plenty of these, I am looking for something for Sun boxes, Mac's etc.
posted by Cosine at 2:02 PM on June 28, 2006

Suns and (modern) Macs are running UNIX, right?

In that case, Rhomboid and Maxwell_Smart gave you the answer that will work on any of these boxes. And it's even included, no extra software needed!
posted by shepd at 2:08 PM on June 28, 2006

OK, maybe if I phrase the question better...

I am looking for a program that can be booted from floppy or cd and will wipe out partitions on x86 machines AS WELL AS Sun/Mac/Etc hardware, anyone know of anything?
posted by Cosine at 2:56 PM on June 28, 2006

And for a Mac, Apple's own Disk Utility has built in tools to obliterate the data. Seriously, take a look. Click "Erase" and then "Security Options."

For the Sun boxes, just yank the drives and put them into another machine. SCSI interfaces be damned. We do that around here.

And then if it's an older drive, we just take them to Nevada and blow the unholy crap out of them with various firearms. The scrap parts are then dumped into a box and given to a company like Shred-It.
posted by drstein at 2:57 PM on June 28, 2006

For Solaris it would probably not be /dev/hd_ but rather something like /dev/dsk/c_t_d_s_ (where each _ is a digit) representing the physical disk. a couple of examples here.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:59 PM on June 28, 2006

Oh, for booting just use any bootable media. 'dd' should be available on just about any recovery/boot/install disk in existance.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:00 PM on June 28, 2006

I am looking for a program that can be booted from floppy or cd and will wipe out partitions on x86 machines AS WELL AS Sun/Mac/Etc hardware

I doubt there's such a thing. Boot disks made for an x86 processor won't work on an UltraSPARC processor or on PowerPC processor. You'll need one for each architecture, regardless of the operating system on the machine.
posted by CrayDrygu at 3:23 PM on June 28, 2006

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