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How To Erase Your Hard Drive Before You Recycle It

DBAN Logo How To Erase Your Hard Drive Before You Recycle ItIn years (and decades) past, people tended to destroy their old and obsolete computing equipment. Get a new computer? Well, then it’s time to throw the old one in the trash bin. These days, however, people tend to think a little more “environmentally”. Therefore, rather than throwing an old PC into the dump, we typically recycle it or give it to an organization which refurbishes computers and gives it to the less fortunate.

A Recycled Hard Drive

Overall, this trend is extremely positive. Computer parts are either reused or recycled, rather than abandoned. The one problem with a reused or recycled computer, however, relates to its hard drive.

Most individuals are familiar with what a hard drive is. For those who are uncertain, a hard drive is simply a piece of computer hardware (something physical found within your computer’s case) which is in charge of storing long-term data; data which isn’t deleted when you power off your machine for the night.

The problem with a recycled or reused hard drive is that it likely is not empty. In fact, it likely contains a large number of personal documents on it. Why? One would think that all you need to do is throw all of your files and folders into the recycle bin and erase them. Unfortunately, this is not good enough. Although the Windows user interface tells you that your files no longer exist, oftentimes they remain alive behind the scenes. Consequently, another individual would be able to make use of data recovery software in order to bring your documents back from the dead. Although this isn’t a life threatening problem, it is a little worrisome.

DBAN – The Free Erasing Tool

Luckily, the Internet, with its huge array of free, professional applications comes to the rescue. Specifically, in our case, DBAN (Darik’s Boot And Nuke). DBAN is a small program whose primary purpose is to securely clean computer hard drives. In other words, it makes use of special algorithms that go through your hard drive and make sure that no one can recover any of your information.

Just be careful when using a program like DBAN. It will erase your entire hard drive. Not only will it erase your computing documents, it will also erase your entire operating system. This is great when you are giving your computer away!

Using DBAN

Using DBAN is actually quite easy. Nonetheless, here are the steps involved.

  1. Head over to the DBAN homepage and click on the download tab.
  2. Click on the item listed under the Preview Releases. As of the time of this writing, DBAN is at version 2.2.6
  3. Take the .iso file you downloaded and burn it to a CD or a DVD. If you have Windows 7, the ability to burn an .iso file is built right in.
  4. Restart your computer, while the CD or DVD is in your CD/DVD tray, and enter your Boot Menu (usually hit F8 a number of times as your PC starts).
  5. Choose to boot from your CD/DVD.
  6. DBAN should load up and you should see a blue background. First, ensure that you really want to erase your PCs hard drive. If you do, enter the word autonuke and hit enter. DBAN will begin the process of erasing your computer; this may take an hour or more to accomplish.
    DBAN Screen How To Erase Your Hard Drive Before You Recycle It


Recycling and reusing computers is a good thing. All you need to do is make sure that you securely clean your hard drive before you let it out of your hands. This way you can do a good deed without having to worry; the perfect combination.

(By) Keith hosts Computer Repair Vancouver, a blog dedicated to providing technical advice to those in the Lower Mainland, BC.

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