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So I am buying a brand new machine and a HDD separate, when I buy this new HDD should I wipe it before I install it ?

What necessary steps should I take to make sure it's pretty much clean of any thirdparty stuff if any ?

Is there anything I should do to the actual machine ? BIOS etc ?

Thanks O

  • When you buy a new HDD, it should be already blank. Hell it won't even be formatted, let alone contain third party stuff. – Thebluefish May 21 '15 at 15:48
  • ahhh cool, sorry for my total n00b question I wanted to clarify :) – OliverBS May 21 '15 at 15:51
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    @Thebluefish This should be true of a brand new HDD, but that doesn't mean it is. This question is especially relevant for USB sticks and USB hard drives that come pre-loaded with autorun.exe crap. – Mike Ounsworth May 21 '15 at 15:53
  • @MikeOunsworth Oh I 100% agree. Hence why I stated "new HDD" and left it as a comment. A full answer would include much more. – Thebluefish May 21 '15 at 15:58
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When you're installing an OS you'll almost always be creating partitions and formatting them anyway, so any previous data left on the drive shouldn't be an issue, unless this "data" is actually malicious and designed to exploit a vulnerability in the filesystem creation tool, but I haven't heard of such flaws yet.

The only exception would be Windows which does weird things with the MBR; I believe it doesn't rewrite it if a Windows MBR already exists on the disk and doesn't offer any way to wipe it from the installer, so if the disk had a previous Windows installation on it you will most likely be using its potentially malicious MBR.

Just to be safe (and because I like having the disks completely clean before installing an OS) I like to boot on a Linux CD and run either shred -n 1 -v /dev/sdX or issue the secure erase command with hdparm.

  • Great thanks, so pretty much more of the time I should just erase the whole disk before a new install ? – OliverBS May 21 '15 at 16:23
  • @OliverBS depends if you have the time for it (wiping an HDD can take hours) and your level of paranoia. – user42178 May 21 '15 at 16:30
  • the paranoia isn't so much an issue I just kinda want my machine to be clean and no questionable third parties on my system – OliverBS May 21 '15 at 16:31
  • @OliverBS then yes. Before launching an operation that can take hours you can check with xxd or fdisk whether there's a partition table on the disk. If there is none and the beginning of the disk is all zeros, you can go ahead and install directly unless you have strong reasons to believe the person/entity you got the disk from wants to compromise your computer. – user42178 May 21 '15 at 16:34
  • perfect, thank you. I will then apply the nail varnish to the screws ;) – OliverBS May 21 '15 at 16:35

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