How Do I Format My Disk Drives?

Note: This article features MediaWiper, which has been replaced by WipeDrive.

Technology has allowed identity theft to become America's fastest growing crime. In order to protect yourself, you need software like MediaWiper to format your disk drives and remove sensitive information.

MediaWiper is the perfect solution to format disk drives, floppy disks, zip disks, memory cards, USB drives, and more. Format your disk drive with technology approved by the Department of Defense.

Opening MediaWiper will bring up the Main Menu where you can choose to Wipe, Verify, or View the data on the disk.

  • Choose Wipe Media to completely format a disk drive.
  • Choose Verify Media to make sure you have a formatted disk drive.
  • Choose View Media Sectors to inspect individual sectors on a formatted disk drive.

Choose the Wipe Media option to Format a disk drive with MediaWiper. You must then select the disk drive to format from a drop down list.

Important: When you format a disk drive, all the information on the disk is gone forever! Make sure you have backed up your important files before cleaning the disk drive.

After you format a disk drive, Mediawiper will reformat your disk for reuse. You can choose between two drive formats:

  1. FAT file system:
    Always select FAT to reformat and format a disk drive, memory card, or USB drive. FAT is compatible all versions of Windows.
  2. NTFS file system:
    Disks formatted with NTFS can only be accessed using Windows NT, 2000, or XP. Choose this option only if you are formatting a Windows NT, 2000, or XP hard drive.

After choosing a file system, you may also choose a name for your disk. This will be the drive label displayed by Windows after you format the disk drive.

Drive labels are optional and must be less then 12 characters. If you do not choose a name, MediaWiper will assign the default drive label of "CLEANED".

The final step before cleaning a disk drive is choosing a security level. Disk data can be overwritten any number of times, however one overwrite is sufficient for most users.

  • 1 Overwrite: This option is recommended for most users and will format the disk drive so that your data cannot be retrieved with recovery software.
  • 3 Overwrites: This option will format the disk drive in accordance with US Department of Defense standards. If you think someone would go to extreme measures to recover your data, you should format your disk drive with this option.
  • 7 Overwrites: This option will format the disk drive with seven overwrites according to VSITR standards.
  • 12 Overwrites: This option will format the disk drive with twelve overwrites. Please note, this option will take considerably longer to format the disk drive.

Before the wipe begins you will be asked to confirm twice that you wish to format disk drive data. The process of cleaning a disk drive involves two steps:

  1. Wiping the disk
  2. Reformatting the drive

Once MediaWiper is done cleaning the disk drive, click Finish to return to the main menu window.

After formatting a computer disk, you may choose to verify that all data has been erased. From the Main Menu, select Verify Media. Click the down arrow of the drive selection list to choose the drive that you just cleaned. You may then choose to do either a Verify or a Quick Verify.

  • Verify: This option will check every individual sector to make sure you have a formatted disk drive. This may take a long time depending on the size of the disk drive.
  • Quick Verify: This option will spot check random sectors to make sure you have a formatted disk drive. This option is much quicker because it checks random sectors from the beginning to the end of the disk.

Viewing the sectors of a drive is a feature for advanced users. Three columns display what sector is being viewed, the characters that sector contains, and the text equivalent of those characters.

Note: When looking at the individual clusters of a formatted disk drive, you will notice that the sector view will display quite a bit of data in various sectors. This data is not user data, it is the contents of the drive formatted and must be in place in order to save files to the disk. MediaWiper can understand this data and test it to make sure that no user data exists in it.