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How to Erase Your Hard Drive

Prevent identity theft by thoroughly erasing the information contained on your hard drive.


  • Step 1: Back up everything Before you erase your hard drive, back up everything you want to save on CDs or an external hard drive.
  • Step 2: Download a drive-erasing tool For a PC, download a dedicated drive-erasing tool for free online.
  • TIP: Look for a tool that is recommended on reputable tech web sites or by the manufacturer of your computer.
  • Step 3: Create a boot disk Create a boot disk using a CD or USB drive by following the instructions from the drive-erasing tool.
  • Step 4: Follow instructions Read and follow the instructions for the drive-erase tool to erase the hard drive by overwriting the data.
  • Step 5: Erase a Mac hard drive Erase the hard drive on a Mac by going to Applications, Utilities, and opening the Disk Utility. Select the drive in Disk Utility, click the Erase tab, then Erase Free Space.
  • Step 6: Using Disk Utility In the popup menu, choose Zero Out Deleted Files, 7-Pass Erase, or 35-Pass Erase. 7-pass takes seven times longer than the zero out option, and 35-Pass takes 35 times as long, since they write over the disk seven and 35 times, respectively, ensuring you have thoroughly cleaned the drive.
  • FACT: Did you know? Gilbert Hyatt at Micro Computer Company patented the microprocessor in 1971.

You Will Need

  • A computer with internet access
  • A drive-erasing tool
  • A blank CD or USB drive
  • An external hard drive (optional)

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