How to Erase all Data from your Hard Drive

People are usually surprised and disappointed to find that their hard drive has been erased. However, there are many actual reasons where you might want to intentionally delete everything from your hard drive except the operating system. If you are replacing your current computer with a new device, you would definitely want to wipe the drive before discarding or recycling it. If your computer has malware or old files as a component, it is better to start afresh. Knowing how to safely and effectively erase your hard drive is important so that you can get the job done and not cause any damage inadvertently.

How to Erase all Data from your Hard Drive


Even if a backup has been initiated and completed before, it is in best practice to conduct a final backup as close to the final wipe of the drive. You might choose to backup your files on an external hard drive, a cloud service or make use of both at the same time. As you might usually remember to save files, do not forget to do the same for your photos.


It sounds very easy enough to manually select and delete individual files from your computer but it is not the recommended approach. You might end up missing a file and you will have to duplicate the entire process to ensure that the files are also deleted from the recycling bin.

Also, it is not always possible to delete program files manually. You can download free and easy-to-use software to permanently erase your hard drive. After using them and running them through the computer, if you don’t need anyone else to use the computer ever again, you are finished with the process successfully.


If you or someone else has chosen to use the computer in future, you would want to reformat the drive. Reformatting the drive rewrites the drives so it can be usable again for storage. Some people have a misconception that skipping straight to reformatting the drive is a quick and easy way to wipe and drive and it is recommended to not fall for this trap. To ensure that your private data is never easily recoverable, ensure that you follow the steps to erase the drive completely first and then reformat the drive if you would like it to be usable.

If the process is done properly, it is likely to take from several minutes to several hours. In the situation where you have multiple drives on one computer, make sure that all drives and partitions are wiped. Failure to follow all the steps could mean that your data is invisible and could be compromised. Once you wipe your hard drive, it is either as good as new or completely ready to be safely discarded.

Sometimes hard drives are deleted or wiped unintentionally. If the data suddenly goes missing, there are software and companies that can help you with hard drive data recovery.