If you have decided to throw away your old hard disk, memory card or USB key, then you should remove all the information from these devices first as you may be giving away your critical financial or personal data present on them. The only sure way to remove the data on memory devices is to wipe them clean using a professional software like Active Kill Disk. It is a free Windows software that allows you to wipe and erase the memory devices (like your hard disk or USB key) beyond recovery. It comes in two versions – as a Windows application and as a bootable DOS disk.
You can download the Active Kill Disk program from the LSoft technologies website. The download is available as a Windows setup program and as a standalone DOS program. I suggest that you get the Windows version as it is very easy to use. On the other hand the DOS version is useful if you have to erase the system hard disk.
As you launch the Active Kill Disk from within Windows, it shows up a very advanced user interface – all detected disks are shown in a panel on the left side, their details in the center and properties on the right side panel. You can select a disk in the left side by placing a checkmark against it, and then you can click on either the Wipe button in the toolbar to wipe all the unused free space on it, or the Kill button to erase the entire disk. But be careful and think twice, because the process is irreversible – once the disk is erased, you cannot recover any data from it.
On the next screen you will be shown more options for Wipe or Kill operation. Here you can select a method to wipe or erase data. For the Wipe operation, you can choose various objects (like system area, slack space etc.) to be wiped. For the Erase operation, you can choose whether you want to initialize (format) the disk after it has been erased. If you do not choose to Initialize Disk(s) after Erase, then that disk shall not be recognized by Windows after it has been erased. You can click on the Start button to continue.
To be on the safe side and to make sure that you did not click on Start by accident, it asks you to enter the phrase ERASE-ALL-DATA in a text box, after which you can click on the OK button to finally start the erase operation.
A progress bar is displayed which shows the progress of the disk wipe or disk erase operation. It shows the time remaining, time elapsed, events etc. You can also choose to Stop or Pause the operation if you want to. The process may take a long time depending on the erase/wipe method selected by you and the size of the disk. For my 4GB USB key, it took about 30 minutes using the single pass method. So you can imagine how much time it will take for hard disks of larger capacities, even though hard disks are faster than USB keys. If you want to wipe a large hard disk, then I suggest that you start the operation in the evening and let it run overnight. In the end, a confirmation message displays showing that the operation has finished.
If you want to customize the Active Kill Disk settings, then you can click on the gear like icon in the left corner. Here you can choose the default settings like initializing the disks after erase, skipping of the disk erase confirmation, ignoring of the bad sectors encountered on the disk and so on.
Conclusion: The Active Kill Disk is a complete package for all your disk wiping or disk erasing requirements. It comes with twenty different secure erase methods which can erase the data on selected disks beyond recovery. It can be used to erase or wipe any kind of memory device including hard disks, memory cards, USB disks, pen drives etc.
You can download Active Kill Disk from http://www.killdisk.com/.