Wiping a Drive

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 13, 2020)

1

If you've been using Windows for quite some time, you may be familiar with the command prompt and some of the commands you can use there. If you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10, you may not be familiar with a change made to a familiar command: format.

Starting in Windows 8, the format command now allows you to use the /p switch, which causes the command to not only format a drive, but also to perform as many passes on the data surface as you want. Multiple passes decrease the likelihood that someone could successfully retrieve information that used to be on the drive. If you plan on giving the drive to someone else and you previously had information on the drive you don't want them to potentially recover, then using the /p switch is a good idea.

As an example, let's say that you had an external drive (F:) that you want to give to someone else. After you've copied all the information from the drive, you can display the command prompt window (as discussed in other WindowsTips) and then use this command:

format f: /p:5

This command performs 5 formatting passes. While this may take a while to complete, the process makes the probability of anyone accessing old information vanishingly small. (It sure beats the old way I used to make sure nobody could access data on a drive I no longer needed: Hitting it multiple times with a three-pound sledgehammer.)

 This tip (2596) applies to Windows 8 and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Drawing a Curve

Ever wonder how to add a curved line to your document? With a little practice, adding curves is simple. Here's how.

Discover More

Deleting a Large Number of Styles

Styles are a fantastic tool for formatting documents. As you work with documents created by others, you may want to get ...

Discover More

Searching Very Large Strings in a Macro

VBA provides a few different ways you can search for information within strings. This tip looks at the most efficient ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Specifying How Clicking Works

Do you want to fundamentally change how Windows responds to mouse clicking? You can do so by following the steps outlined ...

Discover More

Adjusting the Cursor Blink Rate

In Windows, the cursor indicates where you are about to type information using the keyboard. You can adjust how quickly ...

Discover More

Determining If a Drive Should be Defragmented

Disk fragmentation is one of those things which, if severe, can adversely affect your system's performance. This tip ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 3 + 8?

2020-01-13 10:21:42

J. Woolley

You might be interested in Disk Wipe: http://www.diskwipe.org/


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.