Using the command line tool cipher.exe built into Windows 7, can it be used to securely wipe a USB attached drive?


Yes, but it may be slow compared to other tools that do the same job.

cipher /w:X

Substitute the drive letter X for your flash drive.

Remember this only overwrites free space, so delete all files first.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Most free-space wipe tools I've seen, including sdelete and cipher /w work the same way: they create a really big file and fill it with random data (which they most likely obtain using CryptGenRandom). I don't see why would cipher be slower than others. – user1686 Jan 14 '11 at 12:31
  • @ grawity, I did use the word "may"....somacon.com/p253.php – Moab Jan 14 '11 at 15:31
  • cipher /w:X: with double point at the end for drive X! – user185570 Jan 9 '13 at 6:58

You can also use sdelete from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897443

| improve this answer | |

Just commenting the answer given already (comments cannot be styled).

This is part of help printout for cipher.exe

Displays or alters the encryption of directories [files] on NTFS partitions.

  CIPHER /W:directory

   /W        Removes data from available unused disk space on the entire
              volume. If this option is chosen, all other options are ignored.
              The directory specified can be anywhere in a local volume. If it
              is a mount point or points to a directory in another volume, the
              data on that volume will be removed.

Is this true that only NTFS file system can be "cipher-ed"?

What about FAT32 format which is used lately for UEFI compatibility?

Seems better to use special utilities for wiping.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.