I need to erase all my data before giving out my old computer but I don't have the Windows CD.

How can I wipe my C: drive from the command line?

migrated from stackoverflow.com Sep 7 '11 at 7:55

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

format c: /fs:NTFS /p:1

The format command used in this way will format the E drive with the NTFS file system and write zeros to every sector of the drive once.

A single pass of zeros to a hard drive will prevent all sofware based file recovery programs from extracting information from the drive. If you'd like to protect yourself from more invasive ways of recovering data, increase the number of passes or, better yet, choose a true data destruction program with more advanced options.

  • 2
    This won't work when you are booted from the drive you want to erase. – Harry Johnston Sep 7 '11 at 4:57
  • a very valid point Harry. Can't we create a system start disk and then from there we can do this. – Manish Singh Sep 7 '11 at 5:38
  • I know Windows 7 beta had built-in support for creating a bootable CD, but I believe that was dropped for the release version. Is there something I've missed? – Harry Johnston Sep 7 '11 at 8:12
  • I am running Window 7 Enterprise, It has option – Manish Singh Sep 7 '11 at 8:21
  • You are welcome if the info helped you...I am wondering why -2 for answering this....may be thats how the system works :) – Manish Singh Sep 8 '11 at 1:51

I recommend using DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke).

You can burn a CD from this download, boot to the CD and then erase the disk.


You can choose to reformat the partition before installing the new OS; this will by default erase the contents of the partition.

Alternatively, you can boot from a live Linux distribution (like Ubuntu) and run the GParted tool. It will give you a graphical representation of the drives on your computer and allow you to delete existing partitions and reformat them in a number of different ways, including FAT, FAT32 and NTFS.

You can also try KillDisk to permanently erase the contents of the partition/disk.

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.