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Completely Erasing Old Data on a Mac

Updated on June 30, 2009

Completely Erasing Old Data on a Mac

Completely Erasing Old Data on a Mac

In this tutorial I will show you how to completely erase a Macintosh hard drive that runs OS X 10.3.x or above and not just individual files on the drive

For this you will be using the Disk Utility that is built into the Macintosh operating system.

Step 1: Reboot your computer using the OS X system CD that came with your Macintosh.

Follow these steps:

  • Insert the CD into the CD drive.
  • Hold down the “C” key during the startup process.

Step 2: Select your language.

You will then see the Welcome to the Mac OS X Installer window.

Step 3: In the “Installer Menu Bar“, click—> “Open Disk Utility”. You will then see the “Disk Utility” window.

Step 4: In the left pane of the “Disk Utility” window, click—> the drive you want to erase.

Step 5: In the right pane of the “Disk Utility” window, click the Erase tab.

Step 6: In the “Volume Format” menu, select—> Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

In the Name field, type in a new name for the hard drive. Example: “Local Drive”.

NOTE: If you ever plan to connect another computer running OS 9 to this hard drive, you’ll want to install the Mac OS 9 disk driver, so that this disk will be visible from an OS 9-booted computer.

Step 7: Choose one of the following available security options:

  • Don’t Erase Data—This option only rewrites the headers on the disk. Files can be recovered by forensics, disk utilities, and other advanced recovery software.
  • Zero Out Data—There are forensics utilities that, albeit expensive and time consuming, can retrieve zeroed-out data.
  • 7-Pass Erase—This is considered sufficient by government standards to erase data from a disk. It writes random data over the disk seven times. It may take several hours or more to complete this process.
  • 35-Pass Erase—This makes it absolutely impossible to regain any data off the drive. This option takes an extremely long time, possibly more than one day.

Step 8: Click the radio button in front of 7-Pass Erase (recommended by UD).

Step 9: Click—> OK.

Step 10: Click—> Erase.

Confirm you want to erase. The program will unmount the volume, partition the drive, and rename the volume to the name you typed in step 6 above.


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