How to securely wipe a hard drive using Microsoft Windows

In this video we take a look at how, from within Microsoft Windows you can perform a secure wipe on a hard drive. The main aim of this process, is to ensure that any data that was stored on a hard drive remains secure and can not be recovered or restored.

Note: If you need to secure wipe a Solid State Drive (SSD), you should not use the technique shown in this video. This is because performing this sort of wipe on an SSD will reduce its life expectancy. Instead we recommend that you simply encrypt the whole of the SSD, and then format that drive. This is because the encryption key will have been lost after you format the drive, so any data should be near impossible to recover.

Quick reference notes:

  • Connect your hard drive to your computer
  • If your computer does not recognise the formatting of the drive, Windows will not automatically mount it and display it in File Explorer.
  • Open Disk Management
  • Select the hard drive you wish to wipe from the disks listed
  • Right click over that drive to display a quick menu
  • From within the quick menu choose Delete Volume
  • When prompted select Yes
  • Once again right click on the hard drive you are wiping
  • From the Quick menu select New Simple Volume
  • When the New Simple Volume Wizard opens, select Next, Next, Next, Finish

Note: If Windows recognises the formatting of the drive, it will simply mount the hard drive. So you will need to open File Explorer to find out the Volume Label and drive letter it is using.

  • Open a Command Prompt window
  • Type the following:
format [drive letter]: /P:3
  • When prompted enter the Volume Label of the hard drive you wish to wipe.
  • When you press Enter on your keyboard you will be asked to confirm that you want to wipe your hard drive.
  • Select Y

Note: Performing a secure wipe will take considerable amounts of time, so you will need to leave your computer running while the wipe takes place.

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