Microsoft Security Software Storage

How to remove and overwrite all data on a hard drive for free in Windows 11

A particular parameter in the Windows 11 Format command will overwrite all data on a hard drive with random numbers, eliminating entry to delicate info.

Whether it’s used in a enterprise setting or as a private machine, your pc is probably going to have delicate, personal data saved on its hard drive. When the helpful lifetime of your Windows 11 pc is over and you might be prepared to recycle or maybe give it away, it’s necessary to ensure that all delicate data is eliminated utterly. Windows 11 has a device that may do that, however like so a lot of Microsoft’s options, it’s hidden someplace the place you wouldn’t assume to look.

SEE: Checklist: Securing Windows 10 programs (TechRepublic Premium)

With the discharge of Windows Vista, Microsoft launched new options for the outdated DOS holdover often known as the Format command. One of those parameters (/P) won’t solely format a hard drive for Windows working system use, however it can additionally overwrite all data already on the drive with random numbers. This course of successfully erases and replaces all current data with meaningless random data.

Remove and overwrite all data on a hard drive for free

Before we are able to use the format command in this fashion, we first should boot our machine with a Windows 11 Recovery Drive. To create a restoration USB drive, for those who do not need one already, sort “create a recovery drive” into the desktop search device and click on the suitable search consequence.

For this function, you don’t want to embrace system information however having a full restoration drive for Windows 11 on hand is all the time advisable. You will want a minimum of 32GB of storage to embrace all the system information. If you decide to omit system information, all you want is 1GB. Make your choice (Figure A), and then press the Next button.

Figure A

In Windows 11, overwriting the data format.

Choose the suitable USB drive (Figure B), and then click on the Next button. It will take a couple of minutes to create the restoration drive. Click Finish when it has accomplished the method.

Figure B

In Windows 11, another view of overwriting the data format.

Now, insert your Windows 11 Recovery Drive into the PC you would like to wipe with the format command and boot it utilizing the USB drive somewhat than the put in working system. The best means to accomplish that is to press and maintain down the Shift key whereas you choose Restart from the shutdown menu of the Start Button (Figure C).

Figure C

In Windows 11, overwriting the data format.

When you attain the troubleshooting startup mode, choose the Troubleshoot | Advanced Options | Command immediate from the menu. In the Command immediate display screen (Figure D), sort this command:

Format C: /P:4

Figure D

Windows 11 tutorial about how to overwrite a data format.

This command will format the C drive and overwrite the data with random numbers 4 occasions. You can change the drive specification and the variety of passes to fit your explicit preferences. In this instance, no working system information shall be put in.

Note: This process doesn’t meet the strictest requirements for overwriting delicate data on a hard drive, however it works nicely beneath most situations. It is extremely unlikely that no matter data as soon as existed on your PC will ever be retrieved. (*11*), this command ought to be used with warning.


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