Standalone hard-disk eraser: Wiebetech eRazer

Wiebetech's Drive eRazer is a standalone drive-eraser that you can connect a variety of hard-drives to. It writes one (or more) passes of random junk to every block. I have a small mountain of old hard-disks yanked from machines before recycling, trashing or donating them, and I could really use one of these to blank them before I get rid of them. It's kind of cheezy that you need to buy a "pro" model to run multiple passes on the drive -- the only difference between single passes and multiple passes is software, after all.

1. Single-Pass Mode (Standard and Pro Model)
A single data pattern is written one time across the whole disk, deleting blocks including partitions and Host Protected Areas. Verification is also done after a single pass.

2. Multi-Pass Mode (Pro Model only)
The Pro model offers the ability to perform multiple passes. Why? Some studies show that there may be ways of recovering bits of data even after completely overwriting everything on the drive. We believe the laboratory required to actually pull off such a feat would cost millions (if not billions) of dollars. However, if you must convince someone that there's no way data can be recovered, a pro model with the multi-pass feature is for you.

Link (via Engadget)


  1. Call me low tech, but I’ve always used a sledgehammer and a concrete floor to render old hard drives unreadable…

  2. You know, I’ve done that. You end up with a million little sharp fragments on the sidewalk and they’re impossible to clean up.

  3. for shame on you all!!!!

    “Unwanted computers are an environmental problem. Computer components contain heavy metals, including lead, mercury, chromium and cadmium. Without recycling, these toxic metals can accumulate in landfills and pollute nearby drinking water.”

    Won’t someone please think of the children?

  4. Wait a minute. If the device is only writing a single pattern to the disk, it should be fairly easy for anyone who knows that pattern to recover the over-written data. There’s a reason that the DoD uses a minimum 3-pass write of random bits.

    With that in mind, does this device use a different pattern each time, or does it only have one ‘pattern’ stored in its ROM?

    Anyway, it’s still a neat idea.

  5. This is a waste of money, esp the $200 it costs to get the model with the adapters for regular and laptop PATA drives as well as SATA drives.

    Just pickup a $50 USB adapter with all these connectors and use some software to wipe the disks, cheaper, simpler and you can use the adapter for data recovery as well.

    Just not worth it, even if I had a ton of disks to do, I’d just buy multiple adapters and do them in parallel as well.

  6. to destroy a disk with a hammer, you dont have to smash it to the point that everything goes out of the box. bust the spindle and crack the plates. like a VERY HARD disk crash.

  7. There is no known technology that can recover data that has been overwritten once on current hard drive technologies. The original recovery research was done on drives prevalent in the early 90s using Magnetic Force Microscopes (MFM). The track density of modern drives is far beyond what would be required to reliably (or even statistically) read data that has been properly overwritten. The DOD still requires 7 passes, but there is nothing in the public literature to suggest that anything more than 1 pass on current disk technologies is required or useful.

  8. DBAN – Derek’s Boot & Nuke is free and it offers all sorts of schemes & multi-pass options.

    I used it before parting out and selling off my old laptop.

  9. Another vote for Boot&Nuke. Easy to use. Clear options. I’ve used it on a couple computers that I was passing on.

  10. Don’t smash the platters! Remove them from the hard drive and use them as windchimes. They give a lovely clear note with a long sustain.

  11. Teresa, do you happen to know of a place with a guide to removing the platters? I’ve done some googling on it before without luck. I’d like to make some coasters with them.

  12. I think people are missing the point here. Yes, you can hook up a drive to a machine and then let it run overnight. But that’s a bad use of resources. I actually turn of my computer at night and dread the days I have to wipe 200GB drives I am getting rid of. Zeroing out a drive is the least one can do. 7 pass random is overkill with todays high density drives. I have found a happy medium on Unix systems where a simple:

    cat /dev/random >> /Path/To/File/To/Make

    Will create a file filled with random data that will fill up whatever device it’sesent to; effectively overwriting all free data. A tad longer than zeroing out a drive, but 6 times faster than a 7 time random pass.

    If this little doodad can do that without being hooked up to a system, all the better. I can bring it anywhere and use it without having to tie up a main system. And if I am at a client’s office, I can just set it up and leave and not worry.

    My big question is does this activate the built in random write (secure erase?) function that is supposedly built into all ATA controllers and simply monitor it, or is it doing it’s own random writing?

  13. They want 50$ for an adopter to a notebook drive!?

    The standard model is already an expensive stand-in for an adopter. Anyone should have free or cheap eraser software installed on their computer. So just use an adopter to make the old hard drive a USB drive.

    Even if necessary, it must be selling at 10 times its production cost, that is before they start charging $50 for cheap notebook adopter.

  14. “I think people are missing the point here. Yes, you can hook up a drive to a machine and then let it run overnight. But that’s a bad use of resources.”

    I’d rather just put the $150 toward a new notebook. It’d give more equipment and functionality per dollar by a factor of 100’s and I’d have an extra machine to leave running overnight.

  15. “I’d rather just put the $150 toward a new notebook. It’d give more equipment and functionality per dollar by a factor of 100’s and I’d have an extra machine to leave running overnight.”

    I understand that, but with one of these I can do more secure erases for clients without typing up resources; mine or theirs. Personally I have refused doing that as a service in the past because it just ties up some machine somewhere. Now I can get one of these, simply wipe the data and then not think twice. Which means I can use it on more gigs, which means I get paid more, which means it will pay for itself.

  16. I’ve gotta agree with Jack. This is a sweet little gizmo if for no other reason than that it can be put on a shelf with the drive and ignored. Sometimes a dedicated device is a great deal more desirable than a multi-tool.

    #17, Pork Musket:

    The main thing you’ll want to do for taking apart all kinds of fidgety little things is get a good set of screwdrivers, like one of the sets with ‘security bits’ offered here
    (first link I found on google, there are probably better places to get them — I got my set at the local Fry’s)

    For most of the hard drives I’ve ever come across you just need a Torx bit. It looks like an asterix. Apart from that it’s pretty simple to disassemble a hard drive, and the platters really are excellent for wind chimes. Sadly, newer drives no longer oxidize as beautifully as older ones. There was a time when the platters would change color with extended exposure to the air, but the don’t anymore.

    The one thing to watch out for with taking them apart is the magnets. They’re really, really strong and you can easily get pinched by them. If they’re allowed to snap together they often shatter. Plus, do not drill or cut them with a rotary blade. When heated to decomposition, neodymium telluride becomes a fairly significantly toxic vapor.

  17. shred -n 50 -z /dev/sda

    wait a few hours, and your disk will be squeaky clean and polished with an all-zero finish!

  18. @Mr. Brown:

    “…bust the spindle and crack the plates.”

    I know, I know. That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates.

    On a more serious note, making one of these would be a pretty sweet Make article…

  19. Note that if you are REALLY paranoid, you can call your local shredding company, and make an appointment to come in with a stack of drives, and they will let you WATCH them shred them, and GIVE YOU BACK the shreds if you want (or they will dispose of them).

    (I should find some old drives to go shred, just for the YouTube value.)

    Note that a drive that’s more a year or two old is hardly worth reformatting and using as a disk drive. New drives rarely last longer than 3 years before failing drastically, and older, longer-lasting drives are very low capacity.

  20. yet another vote for DBAN. ‘s easy and I can start one machine, eject the CD, move to the next, repeat…

  21. Zak @ 23 (& Pork Musket @ 17);

    Yow! Those are some ridiculously overpriced security bits you linked to. You can find a 100 piece security bit set from numerous dealers, including my company for around $10. I’ve seen them on sale for even less. This doesn’t include the screwdriver, but the bits are the standard size & should work in just about any driver handle. (I apologize for the shameless plug, but I couldn’t let people pay double the price for the same basic set)

  22. Gnoodles:

    I did mention that there were probably better places to get them. I didn’t even look at the price — the link was only intended as a ‘this is the type of thing you need’.

    And yeah, I think the set I got was $12 with the driver handle in a nice locking box.

  23. Pork Musket: Protocol for removing platters will vary from drive to drive and brand to brand, but what you’re probably missing is a set of Torx drivers. Then you can unscrew the star-headed screws and get to the platters and magnets inside. It’s just like disassembling any other electronic device.

    And Cory, I’m Nthing getting DBAN. It’s free, and it’s very, very effective.

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