UEFI BIOS: Dell Data Wipe



DellWindowsReinstallationGuide is written and maintained by Philip Yip. Scotland , Great Britain (GB), , United Kingdom (UK) .

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Introduction

Dell have followed our feedback and now have incorporated a Maintenance Tool in the UEFI BIOS which allows one to Securely Erase all Internal Drives.

This Tool is available only on newer Business Models such as the Precision, XPS, OptiPlex and Latitude models built in 2017 or later which have an SMBIOS version of 3.0 or later (some systems with a SMBIOS version of 2.9 also possess Dell Data Wipe but have a different UEFI BIOS User Interface to this guide). For older Dell Models you can use Parted Magic see my Wiping all Internal Drives with Parted Magic Guide.

SMBIOS 3.0

I will demonstrate this using my Xtreme Performance System – XPS 13 (2 in 1) 9365 which has an SMBIOS version of 3.0.

To determine the SMBIOS. Log into Windows 10 and press [Windows] and [ r ] and type in msinfo32 and press [Enter]

This will open up System Information:

Here you will be able to determine the SMBIOS version in this case 3.0.

Dell Data Wipe (UEFI BIOS Setup)

WARNING: This Guide will instruct in the Secure Erasure of all Data on your systems Internal Drive. Data will not be recoverable.

Power down your Dell and wait 10 seconds. Then power it up, immediately pressing [F2].

The system will prepare to enter the UEFI BIOS Setup:

The System will Enter the UEFI BIOS Setup. This new UEFI BIOS setup is Touchscreen friendly (as well as Keyboard and Mouse friendly) and has a User Interface Similar to Settings in Windows 10. To the bottom left select Maintenance:

Then select the Data Wipe Tile:

Check Start Data Wipe:

Select Ok at the warning:

It will ask you whether “You want to Cancel this Operation?” Select No to proceed:

After that’s done select Exit BIOS:

You will be asked “Do you want to save the changes?” Select Yes:

Your computer will shut down. When you next power up you will be greeted with the Dell UEFI BIOS splash screen:

Then the Dell Security Manager will Load informing you that you will Wipe all Internal Storage Devices. Select Continue:

Select Erase:

The Wipe will begin:

For a system with a HDD as an internal drive the Wipe may be time-consuming (~1 hour) as each bit has to be zeroed individually as demonstrated in the below schematic:

WipeStack

If (as in my case) the internal drive is a NVMe SSD. Primitive wiping routines designed for conventional HDDs don’t work with SSDs as the storage controller continuously reconfigures data to optimise performance:

SSD Format

Instead a Voltage Spike is applied to the SSD which simultaneously clears all data stored in the SSD to 0. This method to WIPE the SSD is very fast (~1 minute) and is preferred as it limits the damage done to the drive by intensive writes.

Format vs Wipes SSD

You will be informed the Wipe is successful:

After the Wipe is successful you can power your Dell down.

Preboot Diagnostics

The next time you power it up, it will be unable to boot as no OS is present:

Therefore the diagnostics will begin:

Unfortunately the error message is somewhat misleading in my case and says “Hard Drive – Not Installed” and not “Hard Drive Detected but No Boot Entry on Internal Drive”. This error message comes about because no OS is present on the SSD and can be rectified by Clean Installing Windows see Windows OEM FAQs and Downloads.

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