- ✓Highly effective
- ✓Works independently from a PC
- ✓Doesn’t tie up a computer
- ✕Supports one drive at a time
- ✕Pricey compared to software solutions
Most computer users have a lax attitude regarding hard disk drive disposal, leaving personally identifiable information vulnerable to anyone with a little technical knowledge and time on their hands. Knowing what's on your hard disk and how to erase it can help prevent identity theft, credit card fraud or even personal photographs and embarrassing online conversations (for example) from being discovered and exploited.
WiebeTech's Drive eRazer is a technical marvel, making you wonder why we've seen nothing like it on the market before. Measuring just 81mm by 56mm by 24mm and weighing 907g, Drive eRazer lets you erase all data from 3.5in. or 2.5in. IDE/PATA and SATA hard drives independently from your computer. The benefit of this is that you can then reformat a drive from scratch and start again, sell your hard drive or even give it away to charity in the safe knowledge that none of your personal data can ever be restored.
Priced from just £59 (ex. VAT) for the standard version, Drive eRazer is much less expensive and easier to use than other hardware solutions, and you don’t even need to boot your computer. To fry your data you simply connect the Drive eRazer to a hard drive (removed from your computer, of course), power it using the supplied AC adapter and then flip a switch. After about 2 hours (250GB HDD, erasing at an average sustained speed of 35MB/s), your drive will be as good as new and ready to go.
Unfortunately the product isn’t available as a one-stop solution for all types of hard drives. Instead, you’ll have to opt for the model that supports the interface connection of the drive you want to erase. Having said that, optional attachments are available (see below). The DRZR-1 is the entry-level model (£59) and supports 3.5in. IDE/PATA drives only. The DRZR-2 Pro (£89) is designed for 3.5in. IDA/PATA drives, while the DRZR-3 matches 2.5in. IDE/PATAs drives (£89). The top-of-the-line DRZR-2-VBND (£118) supports either 2.5in./3.5in. SATA or IDE/PATA drives. With WiebeTech's optional v4 Combo Adapters (from £29.99), the DRZR-1 and DRZR-2 can be used with many drive types, such as most flash drives, PCMCIA, ZIF and DOM drives.
The Drive eRazer works by writing over every bit of a drive. After it’s done, there’s nothing left to recover. A standard single-pass mode writes one time across the whole disk, deleting blocks including partitions and Host Protected Areas. Verification is also performed. For those who want even more assurance, the Pro model is capable of more than one pass with random characters. It deletes all blocks including partitions and Host Protected Areas (HPAs), even ones normally invisible to operating systems. It automatically checks for and removes Device Configuration Overlays (DCOs) and writes to every sector of the disk using different data oneach pass.
Verification is done after the last pass. For peace of mind, the US Department of Defence (DoD) last year updated its specifications regarding sanitisation. Drive eRazer meets the DoD requirements for 'clearing' a 'Non-Removable Rigid Disk'. The specification requires destruction of a hard drive containing government classified data. As far as the DoD is concerned, Drive eRazer is as good as it gets without a degaussing machine or other destructive methods.
There are plenty of software disk-wiping utilities, some of which are even free. Most are capable of multiple passes and in many cases, they work just fine. However, software solutions do have inherent problems. For example, HPAs and DCOs are both used to protect portions of a drive from the OS by making these portions invisible. HPAs and DCOs can be cleared with hardware commands and the entire disk can be erased, but some software fails to address HPAs and DCOs altogether. Software solutions also require a computer, which can be troublesome when you need to erase more than one drive. As well as being more effective, a standalone hardware solution operates as fast as the drive can allow, and won't suffer performance issues due to operating system or other applications.
Deleting a file on a hard drive does not erase it completely, and it's fairly easy for someone else to recover files from used or stolen hard drives. In fact, you’d be amazed at the amount of personal and corporate data that can be recovered from a seemingly 'clean' hard drive. If you’re looking for an economical yet highly effective hardware solution to prevent your old files from getting into the wrong hands before you dispose of or recycle your old drives, Drive eRazer is a great place to start.