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I have a hard drive that crashed and I'd like to try zero-filling it to see if it will still work.
1 - Should I use Suse or knoppix Live to do this (I have Suse and it runs well on my notebook however if I can't do it with Suse then I will use Knoppix)?
2 - What are the commands that I use in the terminal to initiate the zero-fill process? (Please provide detail because i'm not too familiar with these commands).
you need to be DAMN careful, you know.
I will not be responsible for any damage you do to any other harddisks in your machine if you select the wrong one!
you need to be root, I guess.
then, the command is simple:
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=1M
that will fill /dev/hda with zeroes. BE CAREFUL!! If you select the wrong drive, all your data will be lost!!!
(You know that /dev/hda refers to the first harddisk in your system? you know that /dev/hdb or /dev/hdc point to the other drives? if you don't, PLEASE do not do this. Really.)
If you really want to zero your hard drive to start afresh then the best way would be to get a low-level format tool. You will be able to download one from your hard drive manufacturer's support site, that you will be able to copy to a floppy disc which you can boot from.
Your computer will be completely clean once you have done this. No trace of anything that was on it before. Use at your own peril!
I looked for one on the toshiba site but I can't find one. I need one for a toshiba drive, its a 2.5" 60gb 5400 but i'm not sure if anything but the manufacture matters. Know where I can get a utility for my HD?
I've been using the zero-writing tool in Seagate's DiscWizard Starter Edition for a couple of years, and it'll work fine on any make of drive. I always use the floppy version, but I see from Seagate's site that there's a bootable cd image as well:
Alas, I have been unable to find ANY hard drive utilities from Toshiba, where all my other (late model) brands of hard drives provide easily found utilities on their websites. I have used IBM/Hitachi utilities on Toshiba hard drives.
However, my favorite tool for wiping a hard drive is DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke). It allows single or multiple passes and comes on a bootable floppy or bootable CD. It's a free download at http://dban.sourceforge.net/ .
You can order the drive to perform its own diagnostic self-tests, which it can do while being accessed. You can also see a log of all the errors which the on-board electronics within the drive has recorded.
If the drive is showing errors, my frank advice is get rid of the drive. Don't try to resuscitate it; don't try to continue using it. If it has really failed once, it will fail again soon.
And, drives aren't that expensive anyway... they're certainly cheaper than your data!
Are you sure? I understand that a regular format merely marks the space as overwritable, so data recovery from that is certainly possible. But, overwriting the entire drive with zeroes... surely that makes it impossible to recover data.
Yes I'm sure. I've recovered data in that situation. The link I gave you is to a program that does MULITPLE passes with more then one kind of pattern to wipe data. And even THEN with the right equipment data can be recovered. But you need an oscilloscope and other tools to retrieve data at that point. A one pass zero write is very easy to recover data from it.
So if hypothetically I fill a 20 Gb drive to the brim with say linux distro cd images, and then do the same with different distros. If I can then recover bits and pieces of the first round of images, doesn't this mean that the drive contains more than 20 Gb worth of data?
This is what I have a hard time comprehending, but then again I'm not exactly a data storage specialist...
Yes in a since but that recovery isn't easy and it is time consuming. Also puting all zeros in the system creates an easy to mask pattern for data recovery software to look for. That is why good Data wipe software performs more then one pass with different data writes. One pass will be all zero, then all ones, then a checkerbox pattern and so forth.
I need to recover data from a zero filled device. Can you post a link to one of these Linux recovery tools, that recovers data from a zero filled device, without using high tech equipment.
There ain't no such critter. Once the drive is zero filled, all data is gone forever.
Rumor has it that the National Security Agency can recover data from drives that have been zero-written, if they've only been zero-written once or twice. I have always been a bit skeptical of that, but won't commit and say it can't be done.
So if you have a friend in the NSA who is willing to cooperate, go for it. Otherwise, you might as well forget it.