I'm planning to donate a laptop to a school, for kids to use from home during the pandemic.

It's my previous work/development laptop, so I want to erase the drives as securely as possible (within reason, I'm not exactly expecting a state sponsored attack.). But keep them in good working order.

There's both an HDD and SSD drive, from what I gather these require different approaches.

What would be the recommended steps to wipe the drives?

Going for a security level to counter "A knowledgeable person with some freely available software".
And if it's not offtopic for this site, are there any recommendations for free or low cost tools?

  • 1
    If the drives don't hold sensitive data that can bring harm if disclosed, you just need to format them using any tools avaliable on the Internet.
    – elsadek
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 17:17
  • Most drives these days recognise a "secure erase" SATA command, which can be issued with standard tools such as hdparm. Just make sure the disk you're erasing is the one you think it is! Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 17:44
  • That said, I wouldn't trust the implementation to withstand a serious attack - see this question and its answers. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 17:46
  • @elsadek I did a normal format, but the drive contained git repositories of my previous job, ssh certificates, all kinds proprietary data of the company. plenty of things that would be bad if disclosed
    – user83023
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 18:38
  • @user83023 those are sensitive data, better to encrypt all sensitive files and then a single overwrite of all 0 is fine, although a couple of overwrites of pseudo-random data is probably better.
    – elsadek
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


[SSD]: It's easier to perform a secure erase, using the companies software. Seagate SeaTools, Western Digital SSD Dashboard, Samsung Magician, Intel SSD Toolbox are the most common. In all of these softwares (free) there is a "secure erase" option. SOS: Formatting does not erase your data not even in the SSD.

[HDD]: Also for the HDD i'd suggest you to use a third-party software. Not even for a professional is worth to do it by himself. DBAN is the most known tool, completely free. Check that tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHB2gDFBvCU

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