In occasions like when you are giving away your hard disk drive for instance, you should use a dedicated utility and securely erase it first. Simple because, even if you have re-formatted the disk or have deleted the partition table completely, anyone with the right knowledge can easily recover those data later.
Now theoretically, if the software is powerful enough, and once a secure deletion has taken place, the data should be unrecoverable. However, there are other methods that go beyond software tools (such as in forensic data recovery), and by using those methods, one might still be able to recover some of that data, even after securely deleting them!.
Nevertheless, rather than simply reformatting or deleting the partition table, secure delete does help and decreases the chances of data recover dramatically. Now as a GNU/Linux user there aren’t that many tools (GUIs) available. But luckily, tools like ‘KWipe’ are available.
As you can see from the above screenshot, it has a very simple interface (written in ‘Qt’) and is really easy to us. It however does not support deleting individual files and only supports securely deleting partitions or the whole disk.
Currently there are no distribution based packages available. But as long as your GNU/Linux distribution has its dependencies met, you should be able to use it. I tested it on Ubuntu 12.10 and the only package that I had to install manually was called ‘python-parted’.
Does it really work?
Well, I do not have like a lot of data recovery tools to test it. But I copied few files into a newly formatted USB drive and ran few simple tests.
Once finished copying I securely deleted the drive (it even deleted the partition). Then I rebooted into Windows 8 and used a data recovery tool called ‘Recuva’ (very popular) and ‘FreeRecover’, and none of those tools were able to recover any data whatsoever. So yes, it seems pretty good.
The author also says that it has been tested against ‘Recuva’, ‘Testdisk/Photorec’, ‘Ontrack EasyRecover’ (very popular premium tool) and ‘Stellar Phoenix Linux Data Recovery’ (another premium tool) with success.
It also seems to be a file system independent tool (so you can securely delete a disk with any file system) and support few deleting algorithms (‘Zero’, ‘NSA 130-2’, ‘Ghost’, ‘Gutman’ etc) as well.
How to install it in Ubuntu?
1. As mentioned above, then only package that I had to install in Ubuntu 12.10 was ‘python-parted’. So if you use 12.10, then open your Terminal and enter the below command, before running ‘KWipe’.
sudo apt-get install python-parted
What about other Ubuntu versions?
Well, after looking it its dependencies and their versions, I think that Ubuntu 12.10, 12.04 and 11.10 users should be able to run ‘KWipe’ (after manually installing the above package), though I have not tested it in of those versions.
2. Then go to this page and download its compressed package.
3. Now, extract the content to somewhere (say to your ‘Home’ folder).
4. Now open your Terminal window and go into a sub-folder called ‘kwipe’ inside the extracted ‘KWipe’ folder.
If you have extracted it to your ‘Home’ folder, then you can simply use the below command for that.
5. Then enter the below command to finally open ‘KWipe’ (you will need administrative privileges).
sudo python main.py
On its window, if a drive is not listed (say that you inserted a USB drive after opening ‘KWipe’) then try clicking on the ‘Refresh’ icon. And then once you have selected the partition/drive, click on the ‘Erase’ icon to start erasing it. That’s it!.
Note: Please be very very careful while using it (though it asks one more time before erasing), and make sure you have selected the proper drive or the partition. Otherwise, you can easily end up losing data permanently!.