What does zero filling a hard drive mean?
Zero filling hard drive is a process to wipe data on the hard drive by replacing these data with arbitrary zeros. Different from the low-level format, which only deletes data on the surface of a storage device bypassing the file system layer. And you can easily recover data using professional data recovery software or send it for repair.
Best way to zero fill hard drive from bootable USB
To zero out a hard drive, there are many ways, such as, quick format, full format, Diskpart clean all commands, clean install, or using a professional disk wipe software. Then, which is the best way to wipe hard disk data?
When searching for data erasure, you may see that the quick format and full format will appear in pairs, but the winner is always the full format. That’s because full format can erase all the data on a hard drive instead of leaving the original data on the surface. Unfortunately, you cannot open the Windows format tool from bootable USB. At this time, you can try Diskpart clean all commands in the Command Prompt.
In addition, you still can use free backup software that comes along with the disk wipe method to complete this task, AOMEI Backupper Standard, for example. It supports wiping specific partition(s), unallocated space, and the entire disk.
Also, it is capable of 4 wiping methods, including Fill sectors with Zero, Fill sectors with random data, DoD 52220.22-M, Gutmann, only the first method is available on the Standard version. Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista supported.
Step by step guide to zero out hard drive from bootable USB
Part 1: Create a bootable USB manually
Method 1: Create bootable USB via Media creation tool
Step 1. Go to Microsoft 10 download page, scroll down to the media creation tool and click download.
Step 2. Open the Windows Setup window by clicking the .exe file. Then, click Yes in the license terms page.
Step 3. Select Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC, click Next.
Step 4. Select the language, architecture, and edition, click Next.
Step 5. Select USB flash drive as bootable media and click Next. It requires the USB drive needs to be at least 8GB.
Step 6. Select your USB drive, click Next. Then, it will start to download the latest installation files automatically, and create Windows bootable media.
Method 2: Create bootable USB via AOMEI Backupper Standard
Step 1. Download and install AOMEI Backupper Standard. Then, launch it, go to the Tools tab and then select Create Bootable Media.
Step 2. In the bootable disc type window, choose the “Windows PE-create bootable disc based on Windows PE” option, click “Next”.
Step 3. In the Select bootable media window, select USB boot device, click “Next”. After that, it will start to create a Windows recovery disk, so you can use it to boot your computer and perform any operation as needed.
Part 2: Zero out hard drive with bootable USB
Method 1: Zero fill hard drive using Diskpart clean all commands
Step 1. Run cmd as administrator. Then, in the command prompt window, type diskpart to launch this command-line tool.
Step 2. Then, you need to select the disk you want to wipe. Following commands in the order given need to be entered. Hit Enter in order thereafter!
- list disk
- select disk 1
Note: disk 1 is the number of disk needs to be erased.
Step 4. After selecting the disk needs to be erase, type clean all and press Enter.
Step 5. Wait the process to complete. Next Type Exit command. To exit out of the window, press Enter.
Method 1: Erase hard drive using AOMEI Backupper Standard
Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Standard, go to the Tools tab and select Disk Wipe.
Step 2. In the wiping type window, select Wipe disk, click Next.
Notes: If you only want to wipe the selected partitions & unallocated space on the disk, you can choose the first option.
Step 3. Select the hard drive you want to wipe, click Next.
Step 4. In the wiping method window, select Fill sectors with zero. Then, click Start.
- If you are wiping system disk of the current computer, this software will restart computer to recovery environment and then finish the rest of steps. Please don’t interrupt this process.
- If you want to a safer and thorough way, you could consider using the other 3 disk wiping methods in the professional version of AOMEI Backupper. Among them, the rewrite times are up to 35 passes.
Wrapping things up
No matter why you want to zero-fill hard drive from bootable USB, you can try Diskpart clean all commands, and use backup software. They are able to write zeros to a hard drive, which make the data on a hard drive is not easy to recover.