Many of my customers refuse to sell or recycle their old hard drives or mobile phones because everybody now-days talks about how popular data recovery program's are. Isn't it enough to use a software to write a zero to every byte of the storage area in order to protect your deleted data?

What am I missing here? Are there other ways to recover the data? Why do some programs do more than one pass , this sounds silly

  • "Isn't it enough to use a software to write a zero to every byte of the storage area" It is. Although I'm not sure how you'd be sure you'd done that with a mobile phone. Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 19:00

4 Answers 4


Yes, it will be enough to fill the drive with zeros to defeat any data recovery program. However, a specialized laboratory breaking apart the drive and using special tools to inspect the platters may still be able to recover some data.

Tools for disk wiping overwrite the contents several times with some patterns (eg. 00, FF…) and/or random data with the goal that such recovery can't get anything useful.


Hypothetically, even if the data is recoverable through an electron microscope, the costs are going to be astronomical (in the millions), and you would require a lot of proprietary manufacturer information to do so. The only entity that has the resources to pull it off would probably be the US government.

So unless your customer owns a drug cartel or an international smuggling ring, nobody will be spending that sort of money to attempt to recover their data. One pass should be enough to render the data "unrecoverable"


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I read somewhere that the rule of thumb for wiping data from a disk is something along the lines of 14 times with 1's and 0's, in order to make anything recovered incomprehensible. Again, correct me if I'm wrong.

  • 1
    You are wrong. There, that's you corrected. GIYF
    – Mawg
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 12:19

There has been studies that show that the "restore to fabric" or "zeroize" functions on mobile phones does not work and data can still be found with common recovery software.


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