How to Completely Erase a Dell Computer Hard Drive

by Katy Lindamood

There are a lot of reasons for completely erasing a computer hard drive. Maybe you've just bought a new computer, and you want to erase your data before you throw it away. Or, increasingly, people are donating their used computers to charity. In this case, you certainly don't want your saved data falling into the wrong hands. In cases like these, hitting the delete key isn't enough. You actually need to completely wipe, then overwrite the data on your drive. Read on to learn how to completely erase a Dell computer hard drive.

Finding the Right Program

Go to your nearest computer software retailer, and pick up a "drive wiping" program. If you're unsure where to start looking, ask the nearest associate to help you.

Read the description carefully. You're looking for a Department of Defense (DoD) standard overwriting or wiping program. This means that the program will not only erase your drive, but it will then write over the entire drive three times. It overwrites it with useless code, which makes your original data irretrievable.

Back up all of the data that you want to save. This process is completely irreversible, so once the program starts, there is no turning back.

Remove the disks from their wrapping, and insert the program's disks into the appropriate drive on your computer.

Start the program, and let it run its course. Depending on the size of your drives it can be relatively quick, or it can take hours. Let the program run completely.

Degaussing the Hard Drive

Degauss your hard drive using a degaussing ring bought from the nearest electronics store. These are made to remove the static charge from computer and television screens, and will do a real number on a hard drive.

Plug the wand into the electrical outlet nearest your computer. It's an electromagnet, so it does require power. Shut off your computer, and wave the powered wand around your computer tower.

Run it over each surface, about an inch from the casing. Do this for 30 seconds, and your data is gone.

Warning

  • close Don't trust your data to a simple "reformat" All reformatting does is remove the tags that allow the computer to find data, but they can be restored by someone with a mid-range amount of computer knowledge.

Items you will need

About the Author

Based in Kentucky, Katy Lindamood is a full-time freelance writer. She has been writing for magazines and professional websites since 2006 and has a background in retail management and home improvement. Lindamood holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration and human resources.