HowTo – Securely Erasing USB Thumb Drive Contents

Filed under: Site Management

I had a project that I was working on recently and after completed I needed to erase the files from a 32mb thumb drive I was using.

Unfortunately the software that I normally use for wiping hard drives and external drives wouldn’t see my thumb drive so I searched for something that could do the job. Since open source projects are both free and often as good or better then some commercial software I decided to head on over to SourceForge and see what was available.

I came across a project called Eraser. The project files allow you to use the product on versions of windows up to xp and I guess it would probably work on Win7 too.

When you install Eraser it sits in your system tray next to your clock.

The interface for deleting content and wiping drives does need some work. For instance if you want to wipe a thumb drive like I was trying to do you need to go into Windows Explorer and select the drive from the MyComputer level and then you are presented with a right click menu which allows you to wipe either empty space or the whole drive.

While the wipe is being completed you can see a red flashing icon in your system tray. There is no other information other then the operation is in progress. No time left or amount left and this makes the software a little bothersome to use.

So with this in mind … meaning that the interface basically needs a full overhaul .. you can download this software for free and perform the necessary cleaning of your drives.

You have about 7 different wipe options from write over and hope no one finds your stuff.. to DOD 3 and 7 pass which I like and one set that that performs a 32 pass wipe.  I am not trying that because it is really not necessary.

After performing the wipe of empty space … when all I really needed to do is wipe about 500mb of content that had already been deleted …

Note if you have a file you want to erase wipe the files individually this is much faster then having to wipe all the empty space.

Once completed I verified that the files could not be recovered using a recovery tool. No files were found not even fragments however the process is slow.

If you are trashing a few 500GB or 2TB drives I strongly suggest that you get a big hammer. I actually used one on a few drives and it is no easy task cracking open a drive and the platens if you do not have a security screwdriver to open the drive and just smash the disks.


Anyway if you need to clean some drives Try Eraser.. its free and works..

But if you really need to destroy the data nothing beats a big hammer.