How to erase a hard drive with dban

Written by j.t. barett
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How to erase a hard drive with dban
DBAN securely erases all the data from a hard drive. (hard drive image by iMAGINE from

If you're looking to wipe all the data from a hard disk, such as before selling your computer or to recover from a virus infection, you can use the free software tool Darik's Boot and Nuke, or DBAN. It offers a variety of disk erasure methods based on industry standards. The program loads itself from a flash drive, floppy disk or CD, independently of your hard disk and operating system, and erases most hard disks connected by PATA, SATA or SCSI interfaces.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Flash drive, blank floppy disk or CD-R

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  1. 1

    Download the DBAN software to your hard drive from the Darik's Boot and Nuke website (see Resources.) If you download the file with the .ISO extension, you'll need to burn it to a blank CD-R with Nero, ISOburn or other software to create a bootable CD. If you download the file dban-1.0.7_i386.exe, double-click this program to create a bootable floppy disk or flash drive.

  2. 2

    Insert the floppy disk, bootable CD or flash drive into the computer containing the hard drive you want to erase. Restart the computer. You should see the DBAN start-up screen.

  3. 3

    Press the "Enter" key at DBAN's "boot:" prompt. Press the "M" key to see a list of erase methods. If your computer contains sensitive data, press the "K" key a few times, then press "Enter" to select the "Gutmann Wipe" option. If your computer has more than one hard drive, select the one you want to erase by pressing the up/down arrow keys followed by the "Enter" key. The DBAN software will display the word "[wipe]" next to the drive you select.

  4. 4

    Press the "F10" function key to begin erasing the hard drive. The DBAN software will display progress statistics as it works.

Tips and warnings

  • Since DBAN loads itself from a CD, floppy disk or flash drive, you can run the program even if your hard disk won't boot, such as after a virus infection or other serious data problem. If your computer has a hardware problem, it may not be able to boot from any device.
  • When you reboot, enter your computer's BIOS mode to make sure you're starting from the CD drive, floppy disk or flash drive. Otherwise, your computer will simply start your normal operating system without running DBAN.
  • The Gutmann Wipe and DOD erase methods take several hours to complete. They write data in many complete passes on your hard drive. Allow plenty of time if you choose these methods.
  • Use this software only if you are completely sure you want to erase your hard drive. It will wipe out all files, Windows software and programs on the disk.
  • Create backups of any files and software you wish to keep.

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