When you want to completely wipe a hard drive in Windows 10, it’s important to use foolproof methods that ensure your data is permanently wiped. Whether you’re selling your computer, recycling it, or starting anew, wiping the hard drive properly protects your privacy and prevents any data recovery.

In this guide, we’ll discuss simple and reliable methods for how to erase a hard drive to wipe your hard drive in Windows 10, giving you peace of mind that your personal information is gone for good.

Can You Completely Wipe Out a Hard Drive?

Wiping a hard drive refers to the process of erasing all data stored on it, making it unrecoverable. And yes, it is possible to completely wipe out a hard drive.

To understand how wiping works, let’s delve into how data is stored on a hard drive. When you save a file, it gets divided into small pieces called sectors, which are then written to the hard drive’s platters. Each sector has a unique address, allowing the operating system to locate and retrieve the data when needed.

Also Read: SSD vs HDD: What’s the Difference and What to Choose?

When you delete a file or format a hard drive, the operating system usually only removes the references to those sectors, marking them as available for reuse. 

However, the actual data remains intact until it gets overwritten by new information. This means that specialized data recovery tools can potentially reconstruct the original files from the remaining data.

To ensure complete data destruction, wiping software or utilities employ various techniques. These techniques involve overwriting the entire hard drive with new data multiple times, making it extremely challenging to recover the original information. The number of overwrite passes and the pattern used can vary depending on the wiping method and the level of security required.

What to Do Before Wiping a Hard Drive

Before wiping a hard drive, it is important to take certain precautions:

Back up important data: Make sure to back up any important files, documents, photos, or other data that you want to keep. 

Verify data backups: After backing up your data, double-check to ensure that the backup is complete and accurate. 

Transfer software licenses: If you have any software installed on the hard drive that requires a license or activation, ensure that you have the necessary information to reinstall and reactivate the software on another device or after wiping the drive.

Deauthorize software: If applicable, deauthorize any software or applications that are tied to the hard drive. 

Gather installation media or download links: Collect the installation media (such as CDs or USB drives) or download links for the operating system and software applications that you intend to reinstall on the wiped hard drive. 

Also Read: How to Get And Use Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

Record hardware drivers: If possible, gather the necessary hardware drivers for your computer, such as graphics card drivers, network card drivers, and other device drivers. These drivers will be needed to ensure proper functionality after reinstalling the operating system.

Deactivate or log out of accounts: Sign out of any online accounts or deactivate any software licenses tied to the current system. 

Confirm system requirements: Check the system requirements for the operating system and software applications you plan to reinstall. 

Make a list of installed software: Create a list of all the software applications installed on the hard drive. This will help you remember which applications you need to reinstall after wiping the drive.

Double-check everything: Before proceeding with the wiping process, review all the steps above to make sure you haven’t missed anything important. Once you wipe the hard drive, the data will be permanently erased, so it’s crucial to be thorough in your preparations.

Remember, wiping a hard drive will remove all data, including the operating system. Make sure you are fully prepared and have all the necessary resources before proceeding with the process.

How to Completely Wipe a Hard Drive

Here are four methods you can use to completely wipe a hard drive:

1. Use the Built-in Windows 10 Reset Option:

  • Go to the “Settings” menu in Windows 10.
  • Select “Update & Security” and then click on “Recovery.”
  • Under the “Reset this PC” section, click on “Get started.”

How to reset a Windows 10 PC?

  • Choose either the “Remove everything” or “Remove files and clean the drive” option.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to initiate the reset process, which will wipe the hard drive and reinstall Windows.

2. Using Disk Cleanup Utility:

Open the File Explorer in Windows.

  • Right-click on the hard drive you want to wipe and select “Properties.”
  • In the Properties window, click on “Disk Cleanup.”

windows disk cleanup

  • After the utility scans your drive, click on “Clean up system files.”
  • Select the files you want to delete, including system files, and click “OK.”
  • Confirm your action and wait for the cleanup process to complete. This method will remove files but may not be as secure as other options.

3. Using DiskPart Command Line Tool:

  • Open the Command Prompt as an administrator.
  • Type “diskpart” and press Enter.
  • In the DiskPart prompt, type “list disk” to display all the disks connected to your computer.
  • Identify the disk number of the hard drive you want to wipe.
  • Type “select disk X” (replace X with the disk number) and press Enter.
  • Enter the command “clean” to remove all partitions and data from the selected disk.
  • Once the process is complete, type “exit” to leave DiskPart.

4. Using Third-Party Data Erasure Software:

There are several third-party software options available, such as CCleaner, DBAN, and Eraser.

  • Download and install the chosen software from a trusted source.
  • Follow the instructions provided by the software to select the hard drive and initiate the wiping process.

These software tools often offer multiple data erasure algorithms for different levels of security. Choose an appropriate method based on your requirements.

What to Do After Wiping a Hard Drive

After wiping a hard drive, it’s a good idea to do the following: 

  • Verify successful wipe: Confirm that all data has been erased.
  • Dispose of the hard drive responsibly: If you want to get rid of your hard drive once and for all, you can physically destroy or professionally shred the drive.
  • Partition and format your hard drive: If you continue to use your hard drive, it is a good idea to partition and format your drive.
  • Reinstall the operating system: If you’ve decided to continue using your hard drive, you will need to reinstall the OS using installation media.
  • Install necessary drivers: Get the drivers for hardware components.
  • Restore your data: Copy files and settings from your backup.
  • Set up security measures: Install antivirus, enable a firewall, and use strong passwords.

Related: How to Prevent Malware: Lock Down Your Online Safety

  • Configure system preferences: Customize settings according to your preferences.
  • Create regular backups: Establish a backup plan to prevent data loss.

Also Read: Windows 10 Backup Guide: Backing Up to an External Hard Drive

What Is the Best Way to Physically Destroy a Hard Drive?

Wiping your hard disk doesn’t mean that you have to destroy it. However, if your hard drive has already seen its best years, disposing of it may be a good idea.

The best way to physically destroy a hard drive depends on the level of security you require and the resources available to you. Here are a few effective methods:

Drive shredding: Professional hard drive shredding services use industrial shredders to physically destroy hard drives into tiny pieces. This method ensures complete destruction and is suitable for high-security needs. 

Drive disintegration: Some companies offer hard drive disintegration services that use powerful machines to break the drive into small particles. This method provides a high level of destruction and ensures data cannot be recovered.

Drive crushing: Physical crushing using a hydraulic press or other heavy machinery can render a hard drive inoperable. Applying significant force to the drive destroys the platters and other internal components, making data recovery virtually impossible.

Drive drilling: Drilling multiple holes through the hard drive’s platters can effectively damage the magnetic surfaces and prevent data retrieval. Use a drill with a strong bit to pierce through the drive in several locations.

Drive degaussing: Degaussing involves using a powerful magnet to disrupt the magnetic fields on the hard drive’s platters. This method erases data by removing the magnetic charge, rendering the drive unreadable. Professional degaussing machines are available for this purpose.

Optimize Your Drive with Auslogics BoostSpeed

If you are looking to improve overall drive health and keep your PC optimized, consider using Auslogics BoostSpeed.

BoostSpeed optimizes your hard drive by organizing files, removing junk data, and fixing disk errors, resulting in faster overall system performance:

  • Download and install Auslogics BoostSpeed from the official website.
  • Click on the “Scan” button to initiate the scan for disk-related issues.

Clean Up Your OS With Auslogics BoostSpeed 13


  • Allow BoostSpeed to scan your drive for fragmented files, junk data, and other optimization opportunities.
  • Once the scan is complete, review the scan results and select the optimization options you want to apply.
  • Click on the “Optimize” button to start the drive optimization process.
  • Wait for the optimization process to complete, which may take some time depending on your system and the size of your hard drive.

To Sum Up

In conclusion, when it comes to wiping your hard drive in Windows 10, there are several foolproof methods to ensure your data is securely erased. Whether you choose to use the built-in Windows 10 reset option, the Disk Cleanup utility, the DiskPart command line tool, or third-party data erasure software, each method can effectively wipe your hard drive and make your data unrecoverable.

Just remember to back up your important data before proceeding and take the necessary precautions to protect your privacy and data security.


How Do I Wipe My Hard Drive But Keep Windows?

To wipe your hard drive while keeping Windows, you can use the built-in Windows 10 reset option. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery, and choose the “Remove everything” or “Remove files and clean the drive” option.

How to Wipe Your Hard Drive in Windows 8?

In Windows 8, you can use the same method as in Windows 10. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery, and select the “Remove everything” or “Remove files and clean the drive” option to wipe your hard drive.

How to Wipe a Hard Drive in Windows 11?

Similar to Windows 10 and 8, in Windows 11, you can go to Settings > System > Recovery, and choose the “Reset this PC” option. Select “Remove everything” or “Remove files and clean the drive” to wipe your hard drive.

Can I Reuse the Hard Drive After Wiping It?

Yes, you can reuse a hard drive after wiping it. Once you have successfully wiped the drive and erased all the data, you can repurpose it for storage, install a new operating system, or use it as an external drive.

Can I Just Delete My Files Or Format the Hard Drive to Wipe It?

Deleting files or formatting the hard drive is not sufficient to completely wipe it. These methods only remove file references, allowing the possibility of data recovery. To ensure data is irrecoverable, it is recommended to use specialized software or other methods that overwrite the entire hard drive with new data.