How to Wipe a Hard Drive


The Need for Wiping a Hard Drive Before Reselling or Recycling

Before you recycle or dispose of any computer, it is very important that you wipe hard drives. This erases all your private, personal, and confidential information so that no one else can read it.  Just deleting the files won’t prevent access, so learning how to wipe a hard drive is crucial for anyone who owns a computer.

This article will take you through the key steps for how to erase a hard drive on a Windows PC or a Mac.

What if I Don’t Want to Wipe the Hard Drive Myself?

If you don’t think you’ll be able to learn the data wiping skills, or you don’t have the time, then you have two options that depend on what you are doing with your computer:

  • If you are selling or donating your computer, take it to a local IT support company that knows how to erase a hard drive.
  • If you are scrapping your computer, take it to a specialist computer recycler like TechReset. They know how to erase a hard drive so that nobody can ever steal your information. This option may also give you some money back to help fund a new PC or Mac!

Keeping your Personal Data Secure

Which option you choose to wipe hard drives also depends on your attitude to the security of your personal data. 

The hard drives in your computer store files that you’ve created or downloaded and your internet activity:

  • Spreadsheets
  • Text documents
  • Presentations
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Websites that you’ve visited
  • Online photos and videos that you looked at 


Some of the information in these files might be embarrassing if it got into the wrong hands.

But hard drives also hold confidential information that you should always keep secret:

  • usernames and passwords to access websites and computer systems
  • credit card details
  • banking information

Do you really want someone else to know all this information about you?

Cybercriminals have the skills and the tools to easily recover data like this from computers where the drives haven’t been thoroughly wiped. Some data wiping methods don’t completely erase the data, they leave fragments that can be read with specialist forensic software.

If you have any doubts at all, taking your computer to a specialist like TechReset is the only way to give you compete peace of mind.

But if you are good at following instruction and still want to know how to wipe a hard drive, then read on! We will look at some different options for how to erase a hard drive on both Windows PCs and Apple Macs.

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Make sure to have a backup

It is always a good idea to take a backup of all your files on the hard drive before starting any wiping.  How to do it depends on whether you have a Mac or a PC, and both have a few different options depending on the version of the operating system.

With Windows you can easily manually copy your files to an external hard drive, or to a cloud storage service like OneDrive. 

If you have a Mac, then you can backup your data before starting the wipe hard drive process with the built-in Time Machine backup software. 

One you’ve backed up the files you want to keep, then you can take the next steps in how to wipe a hard drive.

Which Type of Drive Do You Have?

Different types of hard drives need different wiping methods. 

what is hard drive recycling?

Windows PCs

Use Powershell, which works on just about all versions of Windows:

  • Go to Run –> Powershell
  • Enter this command:

Powershell “Get-PhysicalDisk | Format-Table -AutoSize” 

The type of hard drive is under the Media Type.

Apple Macs

On the Apple menu, pick the option “About this Mac.” Then select the “Storage” tab to show the drive type. 

The Mac has a solid-state SATA Drive (SSD) and a Mac SuperDrive installed in this example.

And this Mac has a SATA Disk (HDD).

How to Wipe a Windows Hard Drive

How to wipe a hard drive on a Windows PC depends on the operating system version, so pick the correct windows wipe hard drive instructions.

Wipe Hard Drive Windows 10

Erasing hard drives directly from the operating system is easy in Windows 10, but a determined cybercriminal could still read the data. 

  1. Click the Start button, then click “Settings.”  
  2. In the Settings window, click on “Update & Security.” 
  1. In the pane on the left-hand side, click “Recovery.” 
  1. Then click “Get started.” In the “Reset this PC” section
  1. Once the next window appears, click on” Remove everything”. Windows will now delete all the data. This could take some time.

How to wipe a hard drive Windows 7

The easiest way to wipe hard drives in Windows 7 is to format them.

  • Type “diskmgmt.msc” in the search box, then press “Enter” to launch Windows 7 Disk Management
  • In Disk Management, right-click the drive you want to erase, then select Format
  • In the next screen, either leave the disk name in the Volume label textbox or type in the name yourself. Then choose any of the file system choices and unclick ‘Perform a quick format.’
  • Click OK to start the formatting. 

How to Wipe a Mac Hard Drive

In a previous section, we covered how to backup Mac before wiping, so if you’ve done that, you can start the data erasure.

How to wipe hard drives on Macs depends on the type of the Apple Mac and its operating system version.

To discover what kind of chip you have, go to your Apple menu, and select “About This Mac.” If it’s an M1 chip, it will show “Chip”, then the type of chip: 

If you have an Intel chip in your Mac, you’ll see “Processor,” followed by the name of an Intel processor.

How to Wipe a Mac With an M1 Chip

  • Startup your Mac by pressing the power button as normal, but keep it pressed down until the startup options window appears. 
  • Click on “Options”, then click “Continue”
  • When the Utilities menu appears, select Disk Utility 
  • Choose “Macintosh HD” in the sidebar 
  • Click the “Erase” button, select a file system format, then enter a name for it. If you have an M1 chip, APFS will be the only option. 
  • If APFS, the file system used by macOS 10.13 or later, doesn’t show, you should see Mac OS Extended, the file system used by macOS 10.12 or earlier.
  • If it’s available, select “Security Options” and use the slider to decide how many times to overwrite the data. Select the highest number. Note that if the “Security Options” button isn’t there, you can’t securely erase the data, so you need to take your Mac to a specialist recycler like TechReset.
  • Click on “Erase Volume Group”. This will start the data wipe.

How to Wipe an Intel-Based Mac

Using the Disk Utility is how to erase a hard drive on an Intel-based MAC.

  • Power your Mac up and, at the same time, hold down the Command + R keys on your keyboard.
  • When the logo appears, let go. Pretty soon the Mac’s Recovery Mode menu will appear.
  • Pick  “Disk Utility” from the list of options,  then click “Continue.”
  • Click your startup drive and select “Erase” 
  • In the drop-down menu for “Format”, select “Mac OS Extended (Journaled).”
  • If you see a Scheme drop-down, then select “GUID Partition Map.”
  • Click on “Security Options”, then drag the slider all the way to the right to select Most Secure is the selected option.
  • Now click on OK to select this highest level of security.
  • Finally, click on “Erase” to start the data wiping process. Be prepared, this can take a long time. 

We hope you’ve found this blog on how to erase a hard drive helpful. You can contact us to discuss our hard drive data erasure services.

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