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How to secure-erase a WHS system RRS feed

  • Question

  • My WHS system is to be donated to a local charity. How can I securely erase the entire system before I reload a clean WHS? For Windows PCs and laptops I have used a boot disk with KillDisk on it, but am unsure how to proceed for my WHS. This system was installed from a bootable USB stick with WHS copied onto it from the installation media, according to hobbyist instructions from homeserverhacks.com.

    Thanks for the help. Cheers... 
    Tuesday, June 30, 2009 4:54 PM

All replies

  • The question is really how securely the disks need to be erased. Would initializing the disk with diskpart (which really only destroys the partition table) be enough?

    But I see no reason why any utility that securely erases a disk would not work on disks from a Windows Home Server installation.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, June 30, 2009 7:45 PM
    Moderator
  • Ken, this system is going to a school with some gifted kids. What would you do?

    Thanks Ken, you are super helpful as usual... :)
    Tuesday, June 30, 2009 8:21 PM
  • Well, given that the kids probably won't have the level of access to the server (physically) they would need to be able to recover data from a reformatted drive, I would boot from something with a recovery console and the diskpart utility (or equivalent) and do the following in a command prompt for each disk:
    • type diskpart and press Enter.
    • At the DISKPART> prompt, type list disk and press Enter. Find the disk you want to wipe, and be careful, because there's no safety net built into this utility.
    • Type select disk <disk no.> and press Enter.
    • Type clean all and press Enter.
    This will wipe the partition table and delete (overwrite with zeroes) all sectors on the disk.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, June 30, 2009 9:03 PM
    Moderator
  • One word:
    DBaN
    Versions available for CD, floppy, and USB.  Boot into DBaN, and you'll quite thoroughly wipe all attached HDDs that it can see.  ;)

    -Chris
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    Wednesday, July 1, 2009 3:45 AM
  • I agree with Ken but to be absolutely sure (and if you are paranoid) overwriting with zeros will still leave residual magnetic traces on all the sectors of the disk which can be read if theres motivation to do so. its all basically 1's and 0's on the platter. The magnets on the head are not that strong that all the blocks will be 100% flattened if they used to be a 1 but will flatten a 0 if it wsa already a 0. So, with some forensics (and a little motivation) you can see if the block used to be a 1 or a 0. for absolute assurance you should overwrite the disk several times with different data patterns.

    FWIW For government security usage, the US DoD 5220.22 specification dictates a drive (or file) must be over written with all binary ones, all binary zeros, and then random characters. This is to be repeated a minimum of three times.

    but this might be going over the top a little for us mortals eh!!

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009 1:12 PM