Wipe or format a hard drive

by Jane / Tue Dec 26 2017 / UPDATED in Wipe Hard Drive

No, formatting just re-create the file system for a drive for using. Recoverable data contents or details are still there, available for both new data to overwrite them and recovery software to get them back.

Are you talking about deletion instead of formation, because what you said is what happens to delete

No, Delete is to delete the reference or the header of a file, not the content. Format, however is safer than delete and harder to get data back, but still, Format is not secure enough to protect data.

What should I do, format or wipe?

Depends on how will you deal with the hard drive.

Which situation suits you?

  • Reinstall or upgrade to new system
  • Return company’s laptop to IT dept
  • Donate / give it to others you don’t know

As of self-using again, format is enough to make the disk empty, not clean. And formation takes less time than wiping, if there’s no sensitive data on the disk or anywhere of the partitions, go Format.

Once the computer, laptop or the hard drive is not at your hand, wipe everything out is safer to protect personal private.

How to format and wipe?


To format in Windows, there are many mainly three methods:

  • Format Drive in File Explorer
  • Format partition in Disk Management
  • Diskpart command line format volume

The often used way is to format a drive in File Explorer:

  1. Press Windows + E to open File Explorer
  2. Right-click on a volume and choose Format
  3. Confirm this operation when warning message shows
  4. Choose a new file system (NTFS, FAT23, exFat) and leave the Quick Format as checked to format

The alternative way of formatting a partition:

  1. Run a partition managing program, ex. Partition Expert
  2. In the main interface click on the volume is about to be formatted and choose Format Volume
  3. Confirm and specify new File system to this volume and OK and Commit


Wipe a hard drive with Partition Expert:

  1. Download, install and Run Partition Expert. Before continue, it’s better to know what Partition Expert can wipe:
    1. Wipe free space
    2. Wipe entire disk
  2. If you want to wipe a partition’s free space after deleted everything on the drive, click on the drive and choose Wipe free space.
  3. If it’s the entire disk you want to wipe, click on the disk (even the system disk) and click Wipe disk
  4. Choose a wiping plan for the target and starts to wipe

Besides the partition managing software, Data Wiper is another option to wipe a hard drive, download the portable edition and try the Wipe function with the following steps.

Wipe a hard drive with Data Wiper:

  1. Specify what kind of wipe feature you’d like to adopt: Wipe free space, wipe entire drive or wipe entire disk.
  2. Choose one wiping method out of the five in the list.
  3. Choose a volume or disk and click Wipe Now
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