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Thread: Myth busting

  1. #1

    Default Myth busting


    From reading some of the threads here, I see that some people do not really understand that formatting a hard drive and running the so called cleaners that are around, does NOT make the data non retrievable.

    There is a program called forensic recovery suite that is used by the USA law enforcement that can totally recover ALL the data on a so called wiped drive. I was given a copy of it, and as a laugh I went and reformatted a drive that I was going to anyway, used a low level format on it zero filled it and used a couple wipe programs on it.

    I fired up forensic recovery suite and was able to recover the information on the so called formatted drive.

    This is why when a government department or even a business does not sell the hard drive that they were using when they dispose of their computers.

    Not all companies do that, but a number of the government departments do.


  2. #2


    I've always found the best way to reformat a hard drive is by putting a super powerful magnet on a dismantled drive. Ie- a drive without its metal shell casing.

  3. #3


    If I ever get another copy of the utility suite, I would like to see if that actually works.

    Just out of curiosity. It is promoted in computing courses as the way to totally mess up a drive, but I would like to actually find out for sure.

    The best way of course is to never sell a hard drive that has had any sensitive information on it, if you do sell your computer.

    If the computer is still new enough, either purchase another cheap new drive and put it in it or reduce the asking price a bit.


  4. #4


    The software that can restore your zeroed-over files is a mythical beast, so let's bust another myth:

    Software can only see what the drive shows it, and drives are digital -- they hand back 1's and 0's. If you actually do fill your disk with zeros, some pattern, etc., there is no way for any software package, accessing that disk through SATA, EIDE, SCSI, etc., to read the original data. You need to physically remove the platters from the disk in a clean room and read them at an analog level.

    What people don't realize is that many operating systems optimize the representation of zeroed-out blocks. Rather than actually storing, e.g., 4kb worth of zeroes, the file system simply records that the block is intended to be full of zeroes. It doesn't always overwrite the data. For that reason, if you want make sure that the average "undelete" software can't find your data, you need to overwrite it with some non-zero pattern that the OS won't recognize and attempt to optimize.

    In short: If you think you zeroed out your data and you still manage to get it back without mailing your drive to a data recovery service and paying serious $$, it's because you never actually zeroed it out in the first place. The OS fooled you.

  5. #5


    People who do highly illegal crimes on the internet usually do so with a set-up that allows them to drop magnets onto their hard drive at will.

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by KuroCat View Post
    People who do highly illegal crimes on the internet usually do so with a set-up that allows them to drop magnets onto their hard drive at will.
    [Citation needed]

    It's a cool Hollywood type concept. Just as the swat team is breaking down the door, our enterprising haxor presses a button and some rube goldberg contraption destroys his drives. Guess he won't be going to jail!

    The major holes in this theory: destruction of evidence is a crime. Not to mention if you've got swat busting down your door, chances are they've already got plenty of evidence on you, at which point "when we apprehended suspect, he used a pre-setup system to destroy all his hard drives" is going to play real well in court.

    As to the original topic, this is a job for full disk encryption. Sure, they might (big might) recover the data, but without your key, they can't do much with it.

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