Erasing A Drive

seekermeister

Honorable Member
#1
The drive in my HTPC failed and I'm going to RMA it. Nothing unusual about that, but with this one I can't find a way to access it for data erasure prior to shipping, and that bothers me. The system partition doesn't contain anything too sensitive...that I remember, but it does have additional partitions that do have material that I want to eliminate first.
The drive isn't properly recognized by the BIOS or OS. According to Disk Management, it is uninitialized, but when trying to initialize it, it pops an I/O error dialog.

Short of taking a hammer to it, is there a way to erase the drive prior to RMAing?

EDIT: I found some degaussing machines that aught to work, but they look as though they would cost far more than a new drive. Isn't there a way a person can accomplish this cheaply at home?

EDIT: Thinking further on this, degaussing just means using a magnet. The questions that remain are how strong of a magnet would be necessary, and if using a magnet might cause any damage that would void the warranty?
 


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seekermeister

Honorable Member
#3
Correct me if wrong, but the drive would at least have to be recognized in the BIOS for that to work.
 


#4
Can you post a screen shot of you disk management window?
 


seekermeister

Honorable Member
#5
Hmm, curious! Now Disk Management doesn't report it as being uninitialized, and it appears in the file manager, but when I try to cut/paste a file from it to another drive, it starts the transfer for a couple of seconds, then splashes a dialog saying that the file can't be found. However if I open it instead, it will play okay in VLC (video file). Under the circumstances DBAN might work...if the BIOS recognizes it (haven't retested yet), but it would be nice to be able to recover some files first.

EDIT: I had just awoke from a nap and wasn't thinking straight, because my previous comment was about another drive that I'm having problems with, not the one I posted about. I can't post the screenshot requested, because I've already boxed the drive for shipment. I would unbox it for a solution, but not for simply portraying what I've already said.
 


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#6
On a personal note; I'd never box up a HDD for shipment with out wiping it first regardless if I could or couldn't retrieve the data. Which is why I suggested said software in a previous post.
 


seekermeister

Honorable Member
#7
I understand, but it is easy enough to unbox...if there is a way to wipe it. I know that for DBAN to work, that it would have to detect the drive first. It might see the drive, since the BIOS and OS do, but neither can identify or access anything on it. Windows doesn't even see the partitions. The BIOS knows that something is there, but booting stops with the drive connected, until I hit F1 to continue.
 


seekermeister

Honorable Member
#9
I'm beginning to think this is a lost cause. I did get one drive wiped with HD Tune, but it didn't work on the second. I then started to try DBAN, but the phraseology used in the initial instructions scared me off, because it said that it would erase ANY drive it could detect, and I don't feel like unplugging all my other drives. I then tried to use MHDD, but it balked before it even started, due to some kind of error detected in my system. Not sure what that error was, but I would bet it was the subject hard drive. Lastly, I tried to use Hiren's Boot Disk, but for some reason it wouldn't boot...ironic considering it's name.

I have yet to try the HDD-Low -Level-Format-Tool linked, but at this point I seriously doubt it would fare any better.
 


seekermeister

Honorable Member
#10
I can now add to the list of failures HDD-Low -Level-Format-Tool and Acronis Drive Cleaner. I now believe the reason is that the logic board on the drive is fried, and the only alternatives is to either replace it (usually too expensive), home degaussing (how to without voiding the warranty), taking a hammer to it (sob), or sending in as is and cross my fingers.
 


seekermeister

Honorable Member
#11
A comment in one thread I checked, while looking into the idea of using magnets to degauss hard drives, made a statement regarding an effect that I hadn't considered before. It said that not only data on the platters were effected, but that the data on the logic boards would also be erased. It wasn't the reason for the original problem with the drive, because it was in use in a computer in another room, but I remember that there were a couple of magnetic balls stuck to the bottom of my desk on one side, which I may have set the drive over. I'm not really sure if I did or not, but when I first tried testing and accessing this drive, it did have SMART data on HD Tune's health tab, but now doesn't.

I know it is possible to replace logic boards, but sometimes that doesn't work, even if using one of the same part number, and if it did work, the most that might do is to provide partial functionality. I vaguely recall reading something about firmware on some hard drives, which sounded like it could be reprogrammed. Is that something that I could do, and if it is, how would it be done?

EDIT: I found a partial answer:

http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=609&sid=113
 


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seekermeister

Honorable Member
#12
I guess I can forget about the possibility of fixing the drive with a new logic board, because the link below says that the firmware is not on it, but on the platters themselves:

http://datacent.com/datarecovery/hdd/western_digital/WD1002FAEX-00Z3A0

That only leaves RMA or the hammer. It hard to destroy a drive still under warranty. Oh, there is still the possibility of degaussing the drive, but even if I ran magnets over it, there would be no way to know if the data was actually erased or not.
 


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