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How to permanently delete data off a hard drive


Today I will show you how to permanently delete a file or hard drive so that data can not be recovered using data recovery tools. This comes in handy when you have sensitive data you need to get rid of.

For the purpose of this tutorial I will be using Linux Mint 17 (steps work on all Linux distributions) however if you have a Windows system boot the system with a Linux Live CD and mount the hard disk. This tutorial will show you how. Once this is done you can then use the steps outlined below.

To delete data securely we are going to use a tool called Shred.  Shred comes preinstalled on Linux so you don’t need to install it.  The following example will show you how it works.

Open up a terminal and create a file called test1 on your desktop by typing:

sudo touch /home/chris/Desktop/test1

Now we need to enter some data into the file so type:

sudo nano /home/chris/Desktop/test1

This will open up the file as shown below.  Enter whatever data you like into the file and then save and exit.

Now it is time to delete some data.  In your teminal type:

sudo shred /home/chris/Desktop/test1 

followed by:

nano /home/chris/Desktop/test1

As can be seen from the screenshot above Shred has completely scrambled all the data inside the file test1 making it unreadable.

All that is left is to delete the file so type:

sudo shred -u /home/chris/Desktop/test1

Shred will then overwrite the data 25 times with garbage while also renaming the file 11 times.  Your data is no gone.

To perform this operation on a hard drive you would open up a terminal and type the following:

sudo shred /dev/hda

where hda is your hard drive and /dev/hda is the mount point.  This would take some time to delete all the stuff on the drive so be patient.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

How to recover data using a Linux Live CD

I have touched on this in a previous post but today we will have another more detailed look at how to recover data using a linux live CD.  Live cd’s can be easily downloaded off the internet and most distributions now have one.  For the purpose of this tutorial I have used a Linux Mint 11 live DVD which acts in exactly the same way.

The data recovery procedure is as follows:

1. Load a live CD / DVD and wait until the desktop environment is visible.

2. Open up a terminal and type sudo fdisk -l.  Write down where your partition is installed e.g /dev/sda1.

3. Next type sudo mkdir realroot.  This will make a directory on the desktop.


4. Next type sudo mount /dev/sda1 realroot (replace /dev/sda1 with the ID of your device obtained in No 1 above).  You should now be able to see your hard drive on the desktop.

5. Browse your hard drive to find the folders where your data is saved.  Locate your data and save to an external hard drive.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

 

Recovering lost data

Imagine the scenario, your computer will not boot and all your data (which you haven’t backed up) is still on the hard drive but you can’t access it.  What do you do now?  Today we will discuss three ways to retrieve your data.

Boot the system with a Linux live CD

These can easily be downloaded off the internet and burned to a disk.  The data recovery procedure is as follows

1. Load a live CD and wait until the desktop environment is visible.

2. Open up a terminal and type sudo fdisk -l.  Write down where your partition is installed e.g /dev/sda1.

3. Next type sudo mkdir realroot.  This will make a directory on the desktop allowing you access to your files.


4. Next type sudo mount /dev/sda1 realroot (replace /dev/sda1 with the ID of your device obtained in No 1 above).  You should now be able to see your hard drive on the desktop.

5. Browse your hard drive and save all relevant data to an external hard drive.

 

Remove the hard drive from the system and install into an external housing

As the title says open up the computer and remove the hard drive.  Buy an external housing (use the internet) and insert the hard drive into it.  You can then plug the housing into another computer and access all your files.  Word of warning here though, check the interface on your hard drive.  Older hard drives will use the ATA interface (connected by a ribbon cable) while newer hard drives use the SATA interface.  You can buy housings for either just make sure you buy the right one.

 

Use Data Recovery Software

If neither of the above methods work then you will have to try using data recovery software.  There are loads on the market but here at ComTech we use Digital Rescue.  The choice is yours so pick one that satisfies your needs.

So there you have it.  You can now access your files when the computer won’t start.  However one thought for you.  If you had backed up your files in the first place you would never have needed this tutorial.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

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