Computers, Laptops & Tablets Accessories & Hardware HDDErase v4.0 Review How to use this free data wipe software program By Tim Fisher General Manager, VP, Lifewire.com Tim Fisher has 30+ years' professional technology support experience. He writes troubleshooting content and is the General Manager of Lifewire. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Tim Fisher Updated December 16, 2019 Accessories & Hardware HDD & SSD Keyboards & Mice Monitors Cards Printers & Scanners Raspberry Pi Tweet Share Email HDDErase is a bootable data destruction program that works by running off a disc, like a CD or DVD, or floppy disk. Because HDDErase runs before the operating system is loaded, it can erase not only any operating system but even the one that you're primarily using, like whatever you have running on the C: drive. This review is of HDDErase version 4.0, released on September 20, 2008. Please let me know if there's a newer version I need to review. Download HDDErase More About HDDErase HDDErase is a text-only program, which means there aren't any buttons or menus that you can use to work with it. To get started, just select Download Freeware Secure Erase Utility on the download page to download HDDErase as a ZIP file called hdd-erase-web.zip. The easiest way to use HDDErase is from the bootable ISO image included with the download, called HDDErase.iso. You can also create any boot media you want (floppy, disc, flash drive, etc.) and copy the HDDERASE.EXE file to it. The included text file called HDDEraseReadMe.txt has some information on how to create the boot disk. You can also read our guide on How to Burn an ISO Image File if you need a little more help with that part of the process. The only data sanitization method HDDErase supports is Secure Erase, but this is arguably the very best one available. How to Use HDDErase Once you're booted to HDDErase on whatever device you have it installed to, you can most likely just sit a while for the program to fully load and let the default options be accepted. This is what the screen will look like if you're starting HDDErase from a disc: Several lines of text will show and then give you several startup options to choose from. Just let the screen time out so that it chooses the very first option called Boot with emm386 (most compatible), otherwise type 1 and then press Enter. If HDDErase doesn't end up booting properly, you can return to this step and select a different option from that list by entering the number next to it. More lines of text will show and then a prompt will ask about using the CD or changing its configuration. Let this screen time out as well. After some more text is shown, you'll be given a drive letter that corresponds to the disc. This is where you will actually enter the commands to use HDDErase. Enter HDDERASE. If that doesn't work, try to append the EXE file extension to the end by entering HDDERASE.EXE. On the next screen, when asked if you want to proceed, enter Y to start the wizard. Press any key to continue through to the next step, which is just a disclaimer. The wizard is composed of some more confirmation prompts and other questions that just require you to enter Y a few more times. If you see a screen about selecting the device that should be erased, look for an option that actually has something next to it and not the ones that say NONE. Once you find that one, enter the letter and number next to it, such as P0. To enter the options menu on the next screen, type Y again. Enter 1 on the next screen. The other options are for changing the active hard drive and exiting the program without erasing the hard drive. Finally, enter Y once more to actually start erasing the disk. When it's finished, if you're asked to see the LBA sector, you can choose N to finish or Y to read the serial number and model number of the drive that was erased. When back on the main menu, enter E to exit HDDErase. You can now remove the disc, flash drive, etc. HDDErase Pros and Cons There's not much to dislike about this tool: Pros: Erases everything on a hard driveSupports a hard drive's only built-in sanitization methodVery easy to useSupports erasing any operating systemSmall download size Cons Must boot from a CD/DVD or floppy disk to use HDDErase My Thoughts on HDDErase Even though HDDErase doesn't run from an operating system like a regular program, it's still actually very easy to use. As I said above, only one key needs to be entered a few times to start deleting a hard drive. I also like that the downloaded files are very small in size. At around just 1–3 MB, you get all the files necessary to run HDDErase. Download HDDErase If you like the simple interface of HDDErase but would like more choices for a data sanitization method, maybe DBAN or CBL Data Shredder would be a better fit since they both support several more than HDDErase.