Darik’s Boot and Nuke

Formatting your hard drive DOES NOT erase the data on your hard drive!

Have you ever thought about what you store on your personal computer? If you are like most people, then you store anything thats in digital form, on your computer. Chances are those digital files contain personal and sensitive information that can reveal your identity and contrary to popular belief, formatting your hard drive DOES NOT erase the data within! I can not emphasize this point enough.

Its actually quite common for people to simply format the hard drive when either donating, selling or simply giving away their PC thinking all their data is gone and un-recoverable. It would be a challenge for the normal user to retrieve such data from a formatted disk but why not make it close to impossible for anyone, including those pesky “alphabet soup” agencies? I’m the paranoid type so why not securely wipe your hard disks before getting rid of them?

In my opinion, the best tool for that job is “Darik’s Boot and Nuke” (http://dban.sourceforge.net/)or DBAN for short. From the “readme.txt” file included in the downloadable package:

Darik's Boot and Nuke ("DBAN") is a self-contained boot floppy that securely
wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely
delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an
appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.

If you dont make any changes to the default settings, its as simple as:

  1. rebooting your PC with the floppy or cd-rom in the appropriate drive
  2. wait for DBAN to start up
    • press the F2 key to learn about DBAN or
    • press the F3 key for a list of quick commands or
    • press the ENTER key to start DBAN in interactive mode or
    • enter autonuke at this prompt to start DBAN in automatic mode
  3. Thats it! Sit back, relax and let DBAN do the rest!

Like mentioned above, DBAN will also allow you to alter its default config files to suit your specific needs. Some options would allow you to simply reboot the PC with the appropriate floppy or cd-rom in the system and forget about the rest. This is usually left only to the “tinkering types” or the anyone in a professional environment looking to do mass wipes. So venture at your own risk.

With that in mind, not too long ago I had to automate a secure wiping process for work. Close to 100 drives in total. OK, I didn’t “have to” automate the process but who wants to sit there and mess with menus and such when it can be automated? So I made changes to the default DBAN configs. Here are the simple changes I made to the default “SYSLINUX.CFG” config file that automated the entire process. In the end, all I had to do was swap out drives once the wiping was done per drive. It was nice and painless process. NOTE: I am assuming that you have already extracted the contents of the download. Visit the website if you are not sure how to extract/write the contents.

  1. Set the PROMPT to “0”

    # Set this option to zero if you wish to skip the boot prompt.
    PROMPT 0

  2. Added the “–autonuke” option to the “APPEND” line under the “quick” label

    LABEL quick
    KERNEL kernel.bzi
    APPEND initrd=initrd.gz root=/dev/ram0 init=/rc quiet nuke="dwipe --autonuke --method quick"

This allowed me to securely wipe the drives and to “Be really sure” with the –autonuke option. Read the included documentation for other options. Like always, your mileage will vary.

I hope you can put your paranoid minds at ease now! 😉

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