Securely Wipe your Hard Drive with Darik's Boot And Nuke (DBAN)

This is a legacy guide written for computers during the Windows XP/Vista/7 hardware which had a Legacy BIOS and mechanical Hard Drives. The DBAN software has not been updated to support newer technologies. It only Boots with a Legacy BIOS and does not Boot using a Legacy BIOS and Secure Boot. It also does not support newer drive types in particular SSDs.

Dell have followed my feedback in these guides and included a means to natively perform a Secure Wipe using the UEFI BIOS Setup in all Business (Latitude, OptiPlex, Precision and XPS) Models built in 2016 or later. Many newer home models (Inspiron) have also now got Dell Data Wipe. If Dell Data Wipe isn't present, it is recommended to use Parted Magic which has been widely tested with Dell Hardware and most types of SSD and HDD.

Legacy Guide

What is DBAN and why use it?

Darik's Boot And Nuke (DBAN) is a bootable utility which can be used to securely wipe all mechanical hard drives attached to a system. The end result is that it will remove absolutely everything on the hard drive making it essentially blank, like when it was manufactured.

I recommend using DBAN for users that are planning on selling/giving away their system or reinstalling due to a viral/malware infection or for those who want the ultimate clean install. DBAN permanently erases data* and is far more through than the standard Windows format.

* Note it is not guaranteed to securely wipe your system but in my limited testing has done a pretty good job.

Note DBAN does not work for a Solid State Drive.

For this you will need:

DBAN will wipe all internal hard drives essential leaving them blank. DBAN will also wipe any attached USB Storage devices such as external hard drives, USB Flash Sticks and memory cards even the Bootable DBAN USB you use to securely wipe the system will be wiped so take extreme caution when using this program.

BIOS Settings

Newer systems (~2012 or later) which come with a Secure Boot UEFI enabled BIOS which will prevent DBAN from booting. These are newer security technologies which only allow 64 Bit code with a Microsoft signature to boot. Codes without such a signature will be rejected and so only only certified code will boot. This makes the boot process secure preventing malicious code from booting.

DBAN is a free non-Microsoft utility and does not have the paid Microsoft signatures so will also be rejected by Secure Boot. In order to use DBAN you must disable this security technology. I have not tested a USB 3.0 port and drive with DBAN, therefore if using a USB device to run DBAN from I recommend using a USB 2.0 port. And if your system only has only USB 3.0 ports follow Disable USB 3.0 functionality to revert to USB 2.0 functionality. Note the USB device will also be securely wiped at the end of DBANs operation. See here for instructions for changing the settings within the BIOS:

Note: Remove any other external USB Hard Drives and USB sticks unless you want to securely format them too.

Older versions of DBAN usually failed with systems which had card readers. This was because it searched for a blank drive and attempted to wipe nothing and hence stalled. This is mentioned as fixed in release 2.2.8 so you don't need to disable card readers in the BIOS setup when using the latest version. 

Preparing a DBAN Bootable USB

Insert a USB stick >0.5 GB and launch Rufus.

dban 1

Select the USB device:


Select the .iso


Select the DBAN-2.2.8_xi586.iso and press open:


Select Start


Select OK when prompted about destroying data on the USB stick


It will say done at the bottom left when finished, you may now close Rufus.


Preparing a DBAN Bootable CD – Windows 7 and 8.1

Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 have native .iso burning to CD/DVD capabilities.

In these versions of Windows, insert your blank CD/DVD (CD recommended) and right click the .iso and select Burn disc image


Select your Optical Drive and select Burn.


You will be informed your disc is ready, select close.


Preparing a DBAN Bootable CD – Windows XP and Vista

For older versions of Windows (XP and Vista) .iso burning is not included natively and a program such as ImgBurn must be used. ImgBurn is a great utility but its installer includes Spyware/Malware which is installed by default; these can be unselected by using an advanced install so follow the instructions carefully:

Insert your blank CD/DVD (CD recommended) and then launch ImgBurn, select write image file to disc:


Click to select the .iso image


Select the DBAN-2.2.8-i586.iso and select open


Select write image files to disc


You will be informed when your disc is ready, you can now close ImgBurn.

ImgBurn complete

Using DBAN

Insert the DBAN CD/DVD or USB and power down your system. Press F12 at the Dell BIOs screen and select boot from CD/DVD or from USB respectively.

1. Dell BIOS
DBAN will then load

2. DBAN1

The easiest way to use DBAN is by typing autonuke and then pressing enter.

3. DBAN2 Autonuke

You should get these two screens

4. DBAN3 Loading

DBAN will then begin to securely format your hard drive. Note DBAN can take a very long time to securely format a large capacity hard drive so I usually leave it running overnight.

5. DBAN4 Complete

When completed you should get a screen like this. Hopefully it will say DBAN succeeded although sometimes it mentions an error. Most of the times that it has mentioned an error to me it has actually fully formatted the drive and ran for the same length of time as it should (i.e. the same time for a system of the same model where no error cropped up).

After DBAN

Once the DBAN format is done, revert the changes you made to the BIOS setup:

You will have a completely blank Hard Drive and can now begin Windows Installation:

5 thoughts on “Securely Wipe your Hard Drive with Darik's Boot And Nuke (DBAN)

  1. This worked for me. I couldn't get effing Windows 7 off my PC and reinstall XP (old programs are sometimes better). This got rid of that horrible OS for good. Thanks!

  2. Hello,

    I wanted to leave a comment about a possible tool to use for complete data erasure. WhiteCanyon is the maker of WipeDrive, SystemSaver, SecureClean and many other software suites for data erasure as well as protecting information from falling into the wrong hands during recycling and repurposing. Please direct follow up emails to . Thank you for your time. Perhaps there is the possibility to write a new article about data destruction about our software.

    1. Thanks for the comment. This is an old guide, I have an updated guide on Securely Wiping data from drives using Dell Data Wipe and Parted Magic, the developers of Parted Magic have taken into account a substantial amount of my feedback into account and fixed most of the issues I and others flagged up when it comes to securely wiping drives. They also incorporated the means to perform a PSID revert (something which it looks like your software is missing).

  3. Hello Dr. Yip,
    Dban absolutely works on SSD's. I've done 20 or 30 in the past few weeks. Claiming otherwise to promote your own software would be pretty lame, So I am sure that's not what you are doing here.
    Have a great day,

    1. "Delete information stored on hard disk drives (HDDs, not SSDs) in PC laptops, desktops, or servers."

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