I need to wipe an entire hard drive and the only tools I have are Backtrack 5 RC3 and the internet. Apparently earlier versions of Backtrack had a tool to wipe the hard drive, called wipe.

I need to wipe these two partitions(well, the entire drive really), called WINDOWS and Data.

  • Does Backtrack come with the hdparm utility? (Considering a secure erase command to let the disk wipe itself. hdparm --user-master u --security-erase Eins /dev/sda. Details here.)
    – Hennes
    Dec 18, 2013 at 18:35

4 Answers 4


You can use the dd-command.

Attention: You need to replace sda with the device name which you want to overwrite. To find the name of your harddrive, use this command. It will provide you a list of all your harddrives.

sudo lshw -class disk

It will take some time, because all data will be overriten with zeros.

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M

If you want to make it more secure, than you should overrite it with random data and not just with zeros. ;) It will take longer than the first suggestion.

sudo dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda bs=1M
  • 1
    Sorry, I've forgot to say that you have to replace sda with the name of your device-name.
    – Christian
    Oct 9, 2013 at 11:54
  • 1
    @clever_trevor WINDOWS and Data are the label for those partition. You need to find the /dev/xxxx of that particular partition. (/dev/sda or /dev/sdb etc are just samples of commonly used device-name. It may be different with your system)
    – Darius
    Oct 9, 2013 at 12:05
  • 1
    @clever_trevor you can use sudo lshw -class diskto find all harddrives on the system. Than you have to choose the right harddrive. You should only have one.
    – Christian
    Oct 9, 2013 at 12:09
  • 1
    @clever_trevor I'm sorry. I dont know, why it doesn't work. Are you really sure, that your disk is called dev/sda and hasn't any additional chars etc?
    – Christian
    Oct 9, 2013 at 12:22
  • 3
    Please note that one pass of zeros is enough to securely wipe a hard disk. There's no need to use random bytes.
    – Adi
    Oct 9, 2013 at 13:18

You can use shred for files or partitions/hard drives:


Use sudo if required to gain administrative privileges.

For a partition:

shred -vfz -n 10 /dev/sdXZ

For a drive:

shred -vfz -n 10 /dev/sdX

Note! Substitute "X" and "Z" with the adequate number or letter for partition/drive

For a file:

shred -v -u -n 2 -z moo.txt

$ shred -v -u -n 2 -z moo.txt 
shred: moo.txt: pass 1/3 (random)...
shred: moo.txt: pass 2/3 (random)...
shred: moo.txt: pass 3/3 (000000)...
shred: moo.txt: removing
shred: moo.txt: renamed to 0000000
shred: 0000000: renamed to 000000
shred: 000000: renamed to 00000
shred: 00000: renamed to 0000
shred: 0000: renamed to 000
shred: 000: renamed to 00
shred: 00: renamed to 0
shred: moo.txt: removed


  -f, --force    change permissions to allow writing if necessary
  -n, --iterations=N  overwrite N times instead of the default (3)
      --random-source=FILE  get random bytes from FILE
  -s, --size=N   shred this many bytes (suffixes like K, M, G accepted)
  -u, --remove   truncate and remove file after overwriting
  -v, --verbose  show progress
  -x, --exact    do not round file sizes up to the next full block;
                   this is the default for non-regular files
  -z, --zero     add a final overwrite with zeros to hide shredding
      --help     display this help and exit
      --version  output version information and exit

If FILE is -, shred standard output.

Since you have 'internet' as your tool... (and hopefully access to a CD drive, or a USB disk that you can use), get DBAN and it can do secure wipe of HDD content. Just make sure you choose the correct drive.. (if you have multiple HDD, or accidentally wiping the USB where you have DBAN on)

  • I didn't include CDs. This normally would be my solution, but I am not able to get my computer repair disks, which includes DBAN. Oct 9, 2013 at 12:16

You can use dd and shred like suggested.

You might also use ErAce or download it from SourceForge. This works on the whole drive.

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