Cleaning private data off of a drive to return it


I have an external usb hard drive 500GB. It’s faulty and if I return it to the supplier it will be replaced. I used it to store years of data, some of it sensitive like banking data etc.

I have formatted it but I understand that doesn’t remove the underlying files.

Is there an app in openSUSE thet removes the underlying files or wipes the drive so they can’t be reconstructed?


Will parted magic wipe it?

Not sure if that’s enough. I know it takes an age

Ah! An easy one.

Look for /usr/bin/shred

Use it something like this (as root):

shred -vfz -n 100 /dev/hda

It can take a long time.


BTW It can take a very long time if the drive is faulty.

Ok - ok - I do leap in sometimes…You have formatted the drive so shred will not work. There is an app out there called Nuke (sometimes called dban). Try that… I personally use Hirens boot disk for things like that and a lot of people will not approve.


dban can be foudn at

That is:) very good info;)
Thank you it help me in the future.

There is an easier solution, Encrypted Root File System - openSUSE

dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda3

Any tool used will work like crap if the disk is damaged so it doesn’t make any difference what You use.

There is no problem using shred on a drive that is formatted. You just make sure you run shred for the entire drive and not for a single file.

The number of overwrite iterations you use is related to your paranoia. 100 is overkill. Some sources say that as few as one may now be acceptable. More reading on the subject:
Data remanence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The trouble with failing drives is that you never know how the drive firmware will treat failed sectors. If you are extremely paranoid, you have to physically destroy the drive because it’s always possible the firmware will stop writing to failed sectors entirely, and your data will be left after running an operation like shred.

I wouldn’t be that sure about that article, professional ways to recover data from a disk involve some magnetic shadowing or something (you can see 7 or 8 writes back) so 100 may be an overkill but 20 would be quite sure but it will still take hell lot of time.

Not being sarcastic, how much the usb drive cost vs. sensitive banking data.
In this circumstances and if your paranoid that someone can obtain information from this hardware better to just use the hammer. My feeling is if the drive is faulty there is a big chance that there will be a failure in erasing the datas stored.

Thanks folks. The fault is in the spin-up process, not the surface itself, so I feel I can shred it with confidence in the result.

I have to power it on 10-15 times to get a result, and bang the case each time. It’s going now at last. I’ve set it to shred with 25 iterations. It will run all night.

You right if there is bank info.,personal info. use 10lb hammer and go for,
That I did 2 years ago use a hammer that`s it;)