Do you have to free up space on external mass storage external hard drive, or do you want to delete certain confidential information?
Maybe you are getting rid of the device, selling it or lending it to another person. Alternatively, it may now be junk, and you need to be certain no one can see what was on there.
In all cases, you may have to be sure your confidential data will be erased and will not be recoverable in any way. (Read What To Do With A Old Laptop)
Here, you can find out more about why a device should be wiped and how to do it, including helpful utilities suitable for different operating systems.
You can also learn how to make sure that no one can physically read the external hard drive.
Is it Possible to Completely Erase a Hard Drive?
Simply “deleting” a file of an external drive does not erase it. When you want to wipe data, the OS doesn’t delete files. It changes the first letter to a dollar sign or other and mark that space as usable.
Most easy to use third-party data recovery software can recover your rights reserved data as it bypasses the change the OS has made.
To wipe data from external hard drives, you can try the formatting features in Windows and macOS operating systems.
The OS performs a write-zero pass and fills spaces with zeros. It may stop some data from being retrieved if written over a few times, though you can still use a data recovery utility designed to bypass a write-zero pass on your external hard drive.
How Do I Delete Everything off My External Hard Drive?
When you have a hard drive you wish to clean, all you need to do is follow these steps, and you can see how easy it is to clean hard drive on a computer or Mac.
Clean Disk in Windows 10
The quickest way to format your external hard drive is inside the “This PC” window.
- Open windows search or hit the start button and type “This PC.” press enter to open.
- Select the hard drives you want to wipe, right-click and select a format. You can use this for a USB drive as well.
- Inside the formatting, menu options are several choices. Select your format settings and press Start to wipe your drive.
Note* Quick format is faster, yet data can be recovered. Slower formats use a zero write pass to delete data more securely.
Alternative Method in Win 10
It is possible to do this another way inside Windows.
- You can format your drive using ‘Disk Management.’
- Press Windows Key + X and select “Disk Management”.
- Here you’ll see any partition you have on all your drives (be sure you know the drive letter of your external disk drive)
- Right-click the drive you wish to format and select “Format”.
- You can also delete the partition after formatting. If using the disk again, you will need to assign a new partition.
Wipe Hard Drive on a Mac
Wiping a hard drive in macOS is as straightforward as in Windows.
- You will need to use the Disk Utility.
- Open the ‘Applications’ folder in Finder.
- In the utility folder, open the ‘Disk Utility.’
- This opens a new window and presents your Mac’s storage media. If your hard drive isn’t displayed, select the View drop-down and select ‘Show All Devices’
- Select the volume or drive you to want to erase.
- Click Erase button toward the top of the Utility window.
- Choose a new name, then format your drive.
- You now have options for wiping your drive. These differ if your external drive is a hard drive or SSD (solid-state drive). With an external hard drive, the Utility offers a Security Options slider. You can toggle this to overwrite data multiple times. It isn’t available for SSDs.
- Click Erase on the bottom of the pop-up window to start the disk wipe
How do you destroy an external hard drive?
An average computer or external hard drive may contain social security numbers, credit card details, bank account numbers and social networking site logins and passwords.
You have found how easily anyone can recover data using the right recovery utility. Nevertheless, it is essential to remember to back up any data from the external hard drive you want to erase.
The first option is a data-wiping program. Using these allows you to wipe data from an external hard drive, yet you wish to keep using the drive.
However, it is still possible for some people to recover the data. If you don’t want to use the hard disk, the way to make certain the data is unreadable and unrecoverable is to make sure the disk can’t spin.
When recycling an old external hard drive, it is safest to destroy the magnetic disk or platter. To do so, remove the case until you have access to the internal disks.
You may have to hit the sides until it opens. After opening, remove the disks (newer hard disks come with multiple disks). Press, squeeze, hit or bend these plates to make sure they are entirely deformed.
When finished, you can pack the bits and send them for hard drive disposal at the recycling centre.
It is easy to remove data from external hard disks, although using built-in tools may not be the best option. You can find many third-party utilities, which can permanently wipe over the blocks on the disks to make them unreadable.
Anyone who has concerns over their privacy should also think about their connections. Sending or receiving data needs the same attention. The one way to do this is using a VPN. These encrypt your data from your device to the destination, and also in reverse.
Keeping your data safe on a hard disk is vital as long as it doesn’t get compromised before you have the chance to save it.