PNPI Software Tools: Dban

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General Information about Dban

General instructions

IT Help Center
Last Updated: 11/16/05
Copyright © 2005 University of Delaware

Using Dban Disk Eraser

General information

Dban is a free, open source disk erasing program that can be used to securely wipe the entire contents of any computer hard drive. You must be very careful using this tool because using it will destroy everything on a drive--without the possibility of recovery using any disk utility. Completely erasing an entire disk drive is desirable when you are discarding a computer or sending it to surplus. If a system is being passed on to another user, the Eraser tool would be of better use. You can use that to securely erase data and licensed software whilst keeping the operating system intact.

Dban is not software that all users should run. IT recommends that departmental CITAs and other expert users download it and run it before a system is discarded, donated, or sent to surplus. The main complexity comes in downloading the right version and in checking and altering any system settings before running the software.

Therefore, the directions here are of a general nature. If your department does not have a CITA, contact the IT Help Center (831-6000 or and request assistance.

General instructions

  1. Download the appropriate disk images from PC (floppy and CD/R) and Macintosh PowerPC (floppy and CD/R) versions are available. Note to Macintosh users: system 10.3 and later computers should be erased using Macintosh Disk Utility.
  2. Consult the most "Frequently Asked Questions" section of the web site if you need more information than is covered in this document.
  3. If you have downloaded the floppy PC version of Dban, unzip the files to an empty directory and run the dban-1.0.6_i386.exe program. Use this program to create the DBAN floppy disk.

    If you have downloaded the CD/R iso file for a PC, on most Windows XP systems from major manufacturers, you should be able to write a CD/R by merely double-clicking the file (using CD writing software included by the manufacturer). The CD writing software that is part of the Windows XP operating system will not do this for you.

    If you need a freeware/shareware CD writing program, look for "How do I make a bootable CD with the ISO file?" in the FAQ files at the web site.

    On a Macintosh, drag the file you downloaded onto an empty CD and burn it using the software included in MacOS.

  4. Boot the system with the CD or floppy already inserted.
    On a Macintosh, hold the "c" key down during boot to have the system boot from the CDROM.

    On Windows systems, if using the CD version of Dban, make sure that the the CDROM drive is higher than the hard drive in the boot order settings in the system's BIOS. Refer to your system manufacturer's web site if you are not sure about changing BIOS options.

  5. Follow the on-screen prompts to erase the hard drive. The process can take several hours.