How to Securely Erase your Hard Drive | University of Oregon: Information Security
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How do I securely clear all the data from my hard drive?

When you delete data from your hard drive, it is not actually removed from the drive but rather marked to be rewritten by other data. That being said, a hard drive that has not been wiped clean before disposal may still contain confidential data. When disposing of a hard drive it is a good practice to clear all the data off of the hard drive.

Data can be securely removed from your hard drive using a bootable tool called DBan. Dban can be obtained from http://dban.sourceforge.net