Partitions, also called as disk partitions, are logical divisions on a hard drive or other storage media such as SSDs that can be further partitioned based on a user’s particular requirement. Partitioning hard drives allows users to manage files, install multiple operating systems, and it also gives a sense of multiple storage drives as each logical partition is assigned a particular letter and storage doesn’t coincide with the other partitions.
Moreover, Windows OS installation automatically creates four partitions that are required to boot and manage Windows on a PC. Some people also use partitions to separate personal & critical data. A logical partition can be created, hidden, formatted, resized, and deleted with the help of Disk Management tool and DiskPart utility in Windows OS. These tools can also be used to delete and erase partitions. There could be several reasons why someone wants to permanently erase partition data on Windows. Here are a few:
- Re-using or recycling a hard drive
- To prevent data recovery
- Donating hard drive or PC/Laptop
- Partition is no more required
- Get rid of pesky malware or virus
- Get rid of confidential data that is no more required
There are mainly three types of partitions in Windows:
- Primary Partitions
A partition where the operating system is installed. A system can have up to 4 primary partitions.
- Extended Partitions
These partitions are more of a container that can be used to create logical partitions. A Windows system can have either four primary partitions or one extended partition with three primary partitions.
- Logical Partition
Partitions that can hold data or stores data are called logical partitions.
Here are a few methods with which you can permanently erase partitions on Windows operating system and help you to get rid of your confidential data — which is no more needed— and safeguard your private data from recovery software/services when you sell, donate, reuse, or recycle your hard drive or other storage devices.
1. Disk Management tool
You can delete, format, and modify partitions using the Disk Management tool in Windows.
- 1.1 Erase Partition Data by formatting:
- Press ‘Windows+R’. Type diskmgmt.msc and hit Enter key
- Right-click on the hard drive partition and choose Format…
- Choose the File System and leave Allocation unit size to Default
- Uncheck ‘Perform a quick format’ and then click ‘OK’ & ‘OK’ again
- Wait for a while till the drive is formatted. The normal format takes time as it erases the partitions by overwriting a pattern of 0s on the drive sectors
- Erase Partition data by Deleting the Volume or Partition
- Open Disk Management Tool and then right-click on the partition or volume that you need to erase
- Choose ‘Delete volume…’ (If you are deleting a Volume) or choose ‘Delete Partition…’ (If you are deleting the partition). Click ‘Yes’ when prompted
- If you have deleted volume in earlier step, right-click again on the deleted volume and choose Delete Partition… Click ‘Yes’ to confirm
- After deleting the partition, right-click again on the ‘Unallocated partition’ and choose ‘New Simple Volume…’
- Click ‘Next’, ‘Next’, ‘Next’ and then choose ‘File System’
- Enter ‘Volume Label’ (optional) and uncheck ‘Perform a quick format’
- Click ‘Next’ and then ‘Finish’
2. Using Cipher Security Tool to overwrite Deleted data
Cipher Security Tool is a free utility that comes with Windows. It overwrites the deleted data on the partitions in 3 phases. However, this command does not work for files smaller than 1KB. To use Cipher tool, open command prompt and type cipher /w:D:\ and press Enter [here D: is the drive volume (partition) letter].
*Be careful while using the tool. If you are not familiar with command prompt, avoid this and follow the next recommended method.
3. Data Erasure Tool
Unlike above-mentioned methods, a secure data erasure tool such as BitRaser for File uses 17 international data erasure algorithms like DoD 5220.22-M (3passes/7 passes), NATO, etc. to overwrite your confidential data and empty spaces (which might contain previously deleted data). This makes recovery impossible even with the help of forensic tools.
It’s an easy to use privacy safeguarding tool that also lets you erase volumes with desired data erasure algorithm. Additionally, the tool offers two verification methods that verify if the data is permanently gone during the erasure process.
Follow these steps to permanently erase partition data on Windows using BitRaser for File
- Download, install and launch BitRaser for File software
- Go to Tools and choose the Algorithm and verification method
- Click on Home and then click Erase Now in the left pane
- In the right panel, click the checkbox of volume (partition) which you want to erase with the selected erasure algorithm
- Click the ‘Erase Now’ button at the bottom-right corner of the software window
- Wait for the process to complete. When it asks for reboot, click No
- Now click on Erase Unused Space. Select the Drive partition and click the ‘Erase Now’ button
- This time, after erasure, when it asks to reboot, click ‘Yes’
The BitRaser for File is the only tool that generates a certificate of erasure which guarantees data sanitization and can be used to meet regulatory compliances and audits.
One effective way to protect your confidential data is to encrypt it with the help of hardware or software based encryption techniques. However, when you sell, donate, or re-use the storage drives such as your hard disk, it’s important that you erase the data permanently with the help of a secure data erasure tool such as BitRaser for File. This not only helps you safeguard your sensitive information but also helps you get rid of a pesky malware or virus and also helps fix issues with the disk partition commonly caused by corrupt files.
Most importantly, BitRaser for File is developed by Stellar Data Recovery, pioneers in the field of data recovery and migration solutions & services. Therefore, if the tool says data is gone, it’s gone for good beyond the scope of recovery.