How to Erase a Computer Hard Drive
Level of difficulty:
The hard drive is considered as the storage center of a computer. All of your files, folders, programs, and even the Operating System are saved in the hard disk. When the hard drive is totally erased, these programs will be erased with it too. However, some people choose to erase a hard drive because they may simply want to renew or reformat their computer or they want to get rid of a hard-headed malware.
- External storage media (e.g. CDs
- flash disks
- or card)
- hard drive
- device drivers of everything in your CPU
- Operating System installation CD
Check if you already have backup copies of all the files saved in the hard drive. If not, better make back up copies of your files first before proceeding to the next step. You can do this by burning a copy of your files in CDs or DVDs or by simply making copies in flash disks or media cards.
Does your computer have a system recovery disk? If yes, proceed to the next step. If not, proceed to Step 5.
Place the system recovery disk in the applicable drive. This special disk will help you to easily format and reinstall the Operating System.
Follow the on-screen instructions from the disk. This will lead you to erasing the hard drive and may also help you to re-install the necessary applications after formatting.
Use the DOS command prompt to format or erase the hard drive. Do this by opening the command link prompt. You can do this by clicking the 'Start' button and choosing the 'Run' option. Type the 'cmd' command in the open field and press 'Enter' or click 'OK'.
The window for Command Line will open. Type 'format c: /u' or 'format c: /q'. The 'c:' here is the drive you want to erase. Meanwhile, the '/u' means unconditional format and the '/q' means quick format. The unconditional format is considered more secured than the quick format.
Insert the installation CD of the Operating System after formatting the hard disk. You will be guided with the on-screen instructions on installing the Operating System.
Formatting the hard drive may not totally erase its contents. Most computers are set to store copies of files in a hard drive. These copies may not be deleted even when formatting the hard drive. If you want to totally erase the hard drive, you need to use a special program called disk wipes for that. Some free disk wipes you can use are the Disk Redactor, Free Disk Wipe, QuickWiper, and R-Wipe & Clean.
Some bits of data in a hard drive may still be recovered even after using a good disk wipe application. There are some IT professionals who can do this. If you do not want this to happen, the only way you can do is to physically destroy the hard drive.