Windows 11: how to securely erase a hard drive? –

Are you planning to sell a PC or component with an external storage medium? Before deleting them, it is recommended that you perform a cleanup to ensure that any potentially sensitive data they might contain has been permanently erased.

To be sure, it is generally advisable to perform a safe format that will overwrite the remaining data on the drive by writing random data over it several times. Thanks to this technique, the next owner of the PC or storage medium that you want to part with will not be able to recover your data, even with special data recovery software.

We will see two cases in the following lines. The first involves formatting the internal storage media of a Windows PC. The Microsoft operating system includes a reset system that allows you to return your computer to its factory configuration. However, be careful because to erase the data from a PC, you have to tell the Windows utility to perform the erasing in multiple steps, longer, but this will irreversibly destroy the data stored on the device . The second concerns the case of external storage media. Again, Windows includes in its disk management module a tool for performing a safe format. Here’s everything you need to know to securely wipe your hard drive before parting with it.

How to securely format a PC?

If you are about to give away your computer, the best thing to do is to reset it and make sure you delete the data completely. The manipulation is not insurmountable and can be done by anyone very easily thanks to the wizard integrated in Windows 11. Here’s how to use it.

1. Go to Settings

Start opening Windows settings using the keyboard shortcut Windows+i† Select System in the left column, go to the menu recovery

In the next window click on the button Reset this PC

2. Choose your reset options

A new window for setting your reset preferences should open. click on clear all

The Windows Reset Wizard then offers two options for reinstalling the operating system: Cloud uploadand Local resettlement

If your internet connection allows, prefer the option cloud upload, a little longer (requires downloading 4GB of data) but will reinstall the most recent stable version of Windows.

The Reset this PC wizard then displays a summary of the settings you just selected. click on Change the parameters to adjust additional reset settings.

Under the option Clean up data?flip the switch to Yes and click the button To confirm† By activating the Clean data option, Windows performs a safe deletion of the data stored on the machine. The reset process will be longer (it may take several hours), but will prevent possible data recovery attempts by the future owner.

in the window of Additional Settings that appears with your changes, click on Next one and wait a few moments. Finally click on the button Reset to start resetting your PC and securely erasing the data on it.

Now be patient while Windows resets your machine and completely deletes your data. During this process, which can take several hours, your computer will reboot several times.

How to securely format a hard drive?

To securely erase the contents of an external storage medium, a few command lines in the Windows command prompt or in Powershell are sufficient.

1. Open terminal

Right click on the menu Startup and click Windows terminal (administrator) to open PowerShell in administrator mode on your computer.

2. Launch Diskpart

To delete data from external storage media, you can use Diskpart, a command-line tool built into Windows. To do this, just type the command disk part and validate by pressing the key Hall from the keyboard.

The terminal should then appear at the beginning of the line DISK PART> sign that the tool has started correctly in the Terminal.

3. List your drives

You should now list the drives connected to your PC. To do this, type list disk and validate by pressing the key Hall

All storage devices connected to your PC should then be listed. Find the disk number that corresponds to the storage device whose data you want to securely delete.

4. Select your device

To format your storage media, you must first select it in diskpart. To do this, type the command select disk x where x is the disk number that corresponds to your storage device.

Once selected, Diskpart should display the entry Disk x is now the selected disk

5. Erase your storage device

To safely delete the contents of your storage media, type clean everything and validate by pressing the key Hall from the keyboard.

Depending on the size of your storage media, the data deletion process may take longer or shorter. On our 16 GB USB key, the utility ran for almost two hours to perform the secure deletion of data. If diskpart takes so long, it’s simply because it rewrites data on the entire storage device to make old data unreadable. When the data deletion is complete, Diskpart displays the message: Diskpart successfully cleaned the disk

6. Format the drive

Once your storage media has been erased, it cannot be used as is. You will usually have to format it.

Basically, you just need to connect your storage device to your computer for Windows to detect it and offer you to format the drive. If necessary, you can also decide to partition your drive to organize your files there.

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