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I lost approximately 680 GB of data on my Seagate 2TB hard drive while experimenting with a software called StorageCrypt. I used it a few months ago and today I tried it again. But, I didn't know that the old password is already set in the hard disk when I pressed the encrypt button.

I forgot the password which is disappointing. Not to mention, the software uses 128 bit AES encryption so there is no way that I am going to recover that data.

I want to completely erase the hard drive so it is just like it was when I first purchased it. Is it possible to format a hard drive which has been encrypted? I tried to format by right click, Format. But the size of the disk is shown as 1 MB.

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5 Answers 5

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Yes

Most probably, your encryption software created a special partition, which Windows doesn't know how to deal with. Delete this partition and start afresh:

  1. Right-click on Computer in Start Menu, select "Manage"
  2. Select "Disk Management" from left pane, under "Storage"
  3. Select the right partition (volume) on the right disk from the list of disks (bottom right pane) This is very important to make sure you select a correct disk/partition, the partition in question shouldn't have a drive letter, and most probably would be listed as RAW type.
  4. Rigtht-click and select "Delete Volume"
  5. Create a new one on the same disk, with the maximum size (should be the default). You could format it as NTFS, or FAT32, depending on your preference.
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I tried all your steps after mustering up courage to format the data but I get this error " The operation did not complete because the media is write protected" –  Pandian John Jun 4 '12 at 1:31
1  
Do you still have StorageCrypt installed? I suspect its driver is preventing deletion of the encrypted volume. Uninstall StorageCrypt first. –  haimg Jun 4 '12 at 20:02

In Disk Management highlight the little X: drive at the beginning of the drive and Delete that volume. That should make the whole drive Unallocated. At that point you should be able to right click the Unallocated Space and choose to make a New Simple Volume and then Format the volume NTFS. If that fails, as previously stated, use DBAN to do a low level format on the drive.

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Personally I always try to use the SATA Secure Erase command. You will need a computer with e.g. hdparm installed. Gparted CD-ROM is my personal favourite. Use the disk itself to erase all the sectors, even the damaged ones - 'cause it's the only way to be sure. It can be used with either a (e)SATA connection or even USB, if the USB controller supports it. Oh, it's normally much faster too as the drive knows best (it literally takes seconds on my Intel SATA flash SSD drive, but that's a different beast).

Alternatively you can use the utilities of your favorite OS, just delete the partitions and format. This won't erase all data (but if you don't know the PW, that might not be a problem).

If you liked the encryption software I would suggest StorageWipe from the same author.

At the time of writing, Seagate also has tools to erase drives, in a package called SeaTools for DOS. It seems (to me) to also use Secure Erase.

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Since encryption does not protect the data from deletion, this is a straightforward task. Just use the partitioning tool of your choice to delete any unwanted partitions and create a new one. It will have the right size and can be formatted without problems.

Since you did not specify, which OS you are using, I assume some recent Windows. You could use the built in disk management to accomplish this task. Start->Run->diskmgmt.msc. The rest should be self explanatory. Just make sure you are working on the correct disk.

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I get this error "The operation did not complete because the media is write protected" What to do now? –  Pandian John Jun 4 '12 at 1:34
    
Your volume somehow got write protected in Windows, probably by the encryption software. One solution is to just boot another OS like a Linux live system to circumvent the lock. If you are using Vista or later, you could also disable the protection. Run diskpart as administrator, then enter list volu and see which volume number is your external disk. Now type sele volu n but replace n with your volume number. Finally enter attr volu clea read to remove readonly status and exit diskpart with exit. If necessary, repeat these steps with volu replaced by disk in the commands. –  Gurken Papst Jun 4 '12 at 18:17

Right-click My Computer and click Manage, then go to Disk Management.

You should see that drive with two or more partitions.
Delete all of the partitions, then create a new partition that spans the entire disk.

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I get this error "The operation did not complete because the media is write protected" Can you give another solution? –  Pandian John Jun 4 '12 at 1:34

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