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Old 2013-06-17, 20:15   Link #1
Urzu 7
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New England
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Allocation unit size (formatting a HDD)

I saw someone post online they needed to get an external HDD to back up files because their computer keeps shutting off on them out of the blue and they are afraid that their computer is about to die. I have this 250 GB external HDD (232 GB available) that was given to me for free and I just don't need it and don't use it (I have a 1 TB external HDD). So I decided to help them out and will mail the HDD to them. I want to format the HDD, as I have some personal things on there (photos of me and some friends and family, and some word documents with personal info).

I'm trying to decide on what allocation unit size to choose. I found this link: http://www.howtogeek.com/136078/what...en-formatting/

Most of the data on this external HDD is about 95 GB of anime fansubs and about 29 GB of music files (these things were backed up to my 1 TB external HDD). So according to that link, I should set the allocation unit size to the biggest one? That is what I should do? Is there any problem with choosing the default size (4096 bytes)?

A couple more questions. No matter what allocation unit size I use, it should clear all personal data away permanently, right? Also, this external HDD comes with some folders, apps, and files needed to make the device operate/function correctly (examples, a "Seagate folder", a Settings file). If I format this HDD, these things should automatically be safe from being erased, right? Just figured I'd ask.
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Old 2013-06-18, 00:46   Link #2
monster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
I saw someone post online they needed to get an external HDD to back up files because their computer keeps shutting off on them out of the blue and they are afraid that their computer is about to die. I have this 250 GB external HDD (232 GB available) that was given to me for free and I just don't need it and don't use it (I have a 1 TB external HDD). So I decided to help them out and will mail the HDD to them. I want to format the HDD, as I have some personal things on there (photos of me and some friends and family, and some word documents with personal info).

I'm trying to decide on what allocation unit size to choose. I found this link: http://www.howtogeek.com/136078/what...en-formatting/

Most of the data on this external HDD is about 95 GB of anime fansubs and about 29 GB of music files (these things were backed up to my 1 TB external HDD). So according to that link, I should set the allocation unit size to the biggest one? That is what I should do? Is there any problem with choosing the default size (4096 bytes)?
Just use the default size.

The data on your drive will be deleted, so there's no point in using it to calculate which allocation size to choose. Let the person you're giving the drive decide if he/she wants a different allocation size.
Quote:
A couple more questions. No matter what allocation unit size I use, it should clear all personal data away permanently, right?
No.

It will be erased in the sense that the computer will show it has no data and most people would just trust that it's empty and won't try to look for your data. But unless you actually overwrite the data, there is some software that could try to recover it and knowledgeable people might use those programs to look for any data they can recover.

So if you have data on the drive that you don't want other people to recover, then overwrite it. Otherwise, if you don't care, just format it and it will be gone as far as many people are concerned.
Quote:
Also, this external HDD comes with some folders, apps, and files needed to make the device operate/function correctly (examples, a "Seagate folder", a Settings file). If I format this HDD, these things should automatically be safe from being erased, right? Just figured I'd ask.
Formatting will erase (again, not really) all data on the drive, including the built-in software.

But the drive itself should still be usable. If the person you're giving the drive to wants those software back, he might try downloading it from the manufacturer's website.
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Old 2013-06-18, 04:10   Link #3
Urzu 7
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So how could I overwrite data?

Would it be a good idea to edit and modify certain pics and certain word documents? I could take pictures with me, friends, and family and then just crop the picture to a small segment of the picture (a part with no person, like a counter or a tree or a shoe) and then for written documents, I could just use Select All, delete, and then type in something like "blank document" and then save the document. Then I could format the hard drive. In the event someone down the line gets my hard drive that wants to recover the data, all the personal info would be edited so that nothing personal is there to see. Would this idea work?
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Old 2013-06-18, 04:33   Link #4
monster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
So how could I overwrite data?
If you're using Windows, you can format the drive and then run the following command in the command prompt:
Code:
cipher /w:E:\
That command will remove data from available unused disk space on drive E (which is the whole drive after a format), but it will take some time depending on the size of your drive so you might want to do it whenever you can leave the computer on for a long time.

Just make sure to format the drive first and to change E to the current drive letter of your drive.

Or just search for other tools for Windows and/or other operating systems.
Quote:
Would it be a good idea to edit and modify certain pics and certain word documents? I could take pictures with me, friends, and family and then just crop the picture to a small segment of the picture (a part with no person, like a counter or a tree or a shoe) and then for written documents, I could just use Select All, delete, and then type in something like "blank document" and then save the document. Then I could format the hard drive. In the event someone down the line gets my hard drive that wants to recover the data, all the personal info would be edited so that nothing personal is there to see. Would this idea work?
I'm not sure if that will work, but either way, it seems a hassle to me and you might miss a file or two, or even a metadata in one or more of those files.
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Old 2013-06-18, 05:43   Link #5
Urzu 7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monster View Post
If you're using Windows, you can format the drive and then run the following command in the command prompt:
Code:
cipher /w:E:\
That command will remove data from available unused disk space on drive E (which is the whole drive after a format), but it will take some time depending on the size of your drive so you might want to do it whenever you can leave the computer on for a long time.

Just make sure to format the drive first and to change E to the current drive letter of your drive.

Or just search for other tools for Windows and/or other operating systems. I'm not sure if that will work, but either way, it seems a hassle to me and you might miss a file or two, or even a metadata in one or more of those files.

Okay, so if the external HDD is something like drive 'F', just make sure to run the command [cipher /w:F:\], correct? I wouldn't wanna do that to my actual E drive, that is my storage drive with my fansubs and music lol
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Old 2013-06-18, 05:49   Link #6
monster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
Okay, so if the external HDD is something like drive 'F', just make sure to run the command [cipher /w:F:\], correct? I wouldn't wanna do that to my actual E drive, that is my storage drive with my fansubs and music lol
Yep.

But you should be able to run it safely on any drive because this command only overwrites available unused disk space. I've even done it on my C drive.

That's why I said to format the external drive first so that the whole drive will be unused, and thus, will be overwritten by this command.

Ah, I forgot, I don't know if the cipher command is available in the home editions of Windows. I know it's available in the pro/business editions.
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Old 2013-06-18, 11:54   Link #7
CrowKenobi
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I would think that doing a full format (not the quick format) of the drive will accomplish the same thing...
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Old 2013-06-19, 01:22   Link #8
Urzu 7
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I formatted it. I am now running a drive wiper with the program CCleaner. It gave 4 options. Simple wipe with one sweep, Advanced with three sweeps, Complex with seven sweeps, and Very Complex with 35 sweeps. I chose the one with three sweeps. I figured that would be good enough. Will take about six hours to do, too. Has about 5 hours and 20 minutes left in the estimated time left message.
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Old 2013-06-19, 01:58   Link #9
monster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrowKenobi View Post
I would think that doing a full format (not the quick format) of the drive will accomplish the same thing...
Right, apparently that's now true for Vista and newer versions of Windows.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
I formatted it. I am now running a drive wiper with the program CCleaner. It gave 4 options. Simple wipe with one sweep, Advanced with three sweeps, Complex with seven sweeps, and Very Complex with 35 sweeps. I chose the one with three sweeps. I figured that would be good enough. Will take about six hours to do, too. Has about 5 hours and 20 minutes left in the estimated time left message.
Ah, CCleaner, I forgot about that software. Well, hopefully everything goes well for you and the other person.
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Old 2013-06-19, 02:32   Link #10
larethian
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Urzu 7, sounds like you are doing a bunch of complicated stuff. If you are using Windows Vista and above, a full format (not quick format) should do a zero-fill on your disk, completely and thoroughly destroying all data.
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Old 2013-06-19, 08:32   Link #11
Urzu 7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larethian View Post
Urzu 7, sounds like you are doing a bunch of complicated stuff. If you are using Windows Vista and above, a full format (not quick format) should do a zero-fill on your disk, completely and thoroughly destroying all data.
I didn't edit any pics or word documents. I just suggested that idea because I, well, I threw it out there.

What I did was a format (not a quick one) and then did a drive wipe with CCleaner, went to bed, and it was done in the morning. And now everything is taken care of. But...that drive wipe wasn't necessary, was it? All I needed was the complete format (not the quick one)?
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Old 2013-06-19, 13:15   Link #12
monster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
But...that drive wipe wasn't necessary, was it? All I needed was the complete format (not the quick one)?
Apparently so, if you use the format function in Vista or a newer version of Windows.
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Old 2013-06-19, 15:40   Link #13
synaesthetic
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dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=1M
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Old 2013-06-19, 20:41   Link #14
Urzu 7
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=1M
I have no idea what you just said.
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Old 2013-06-20, 00:32   Link #15
larethian
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Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
I have no idea what you just said.
Don't mind him, he's just showing his LEETnux expertise.
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Last edited by larethian; 2013-06-20 at 02:38.
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Old 2013-06-20, 18:44   Link #16
Urzu 7
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Originally Posted by larethian View Post
Don't mind him, he's just showing his LEETnux expertise.
Synaesthetic is a woman. She is showing her LEETnux expertise.
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Old 2013-06-20, 21:01   Link #17
synaesthetic
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Ya'll should let me be nerdy in peace.
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Old 2013-06-21, 00:30   Link #18
Urzu 7
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Ya'll should let me be nerdy in peace.
Hm, you'd figure that'd be the case at an anime forum, right?
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