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How does oft-recommended hard drive scrubber Darik's Boot and Nuke actually work?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

DBAN is simply a Linux-based bootable image that can be run from floppy, CD/DVD, or USB drive (and probably more) which runs in system memory from the media. Once started, it gives you the option of overwriting disk content with multiple different methods, including pseudo-randomly generated numbers, the Gutmann method, and the DoD methods. For the most thorough wipe the Gutmann method is preferred, but has the longest runtime (35 passes).

As opposed to a simple format which is recoverable, DBAN will actually overwrite each sector on the disk with gibberish. The amount of times and type of data depends on which method is selected as described above.

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The Gutmann method has been obsolete for many years. A few passes of random data is the best choice these days. –  grawity Jan 21 '11 at 19:55
    
@grawity just for the paranoid ;) –  John T Jan 21 '11 at 20:34
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The paranoid will want to read the quote in which Gutmann himself says the same thing. –  grawity Jan 21 '11 at 21:48
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I use it at work and in a nutshell it writes the the hardisk with all 1's and then all zero's (It is the standard for the DoD???) and depending the option you choose it can do this a few times or several time rendering any info on the disk irretrievable. I work in government and it ensures that any PC that we have replace can be resold etc... with out the fear of any info being left on it.

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