Recently I have been faced with the need to wipe a bunch of hard disks removed from some old (indeed, in one or two cases, very old) PCs before disposal. Normally I would have used DBAN to do this because it gives me a nice warm feeling that I have taken all reasonable steps and no-one (short of a very specialist forensic recovery laboratory) is likely to be able to read the disks thereafter. The latest version of DBAN (post version 2.0) even (supposedly) supports USB disks. I say supposedly because I couldn’t get it to work on my setup.
I have a USB to SATA/IDE disk converter which is very useful for quickly mounting disks which would otherwise need to be installed internally. The fact that DBAN can now handle such disks made it a no brainer choice when I was faced with the task of wiping half a dozen assorted disks of varying vintage. Howver, every disk I tried resulted in a DBAN failure followed by an advertising page for the commercial disk erasure product called blancco. Worse, it appears that Darik’s own web page now advertises blancco as a preferred product. Wierd.
Given the DBAN failure I had to fall back on dd. At least that works. And a wipe once with dd (dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb), followed by a repartition and reformat with gparted then another dd, this time with random data (dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sdb) is probably enough to stop the the 1992 Parish Council minutes appearing anywhere they shouldn’t.
But oh boy, dd is slow when using /dev/urandom – so I cheated and stuck to /dev/zero.