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I have a computer with multiple SATA hard disks connected through SATA. The first one has my OS/grub etc and the rest I want to clean and sell.

All the questions I see on the web typically involve using DBAN, but that requires me to boot into the 'dban OS' using a CD/USB. I want to boot into my own Ubuntu installation on /dev/sda1 and then 'use' DBAN, if possible (The reason for this is simple - I want the Ubuntu installation running since it is also sharing files for my family .. so I can't "shut down" the server so to speak)

What are my options? I understand there's always dd, and then there's shred, but from what I have read shred is not that effective on systems with ext3/ext4?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Shred works perfectly well on ext3 -it has issues with files on journaled filesystems since they're designed to resist unintentional corruption. With a partition shred, you're deleting the journal files too, so this form of recovery is not an issue. With a modern system, a simple wipe is usually enough to irrecoverably delete a hard drive, and shred goes a fair bit further than that.

I'd just go with shred, give a recovery tool like testdisk a shot to verify that it was properly deleted (least on the first disk), and get on with disposing of the drives. As long as you don't keep the filesystem in place and wipe the whole disk, this should be sufficient to ensure that its nearly impossible to recover data off the drive.

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