Secure Deletion with DBAN

When it's time to recycle, donate or discard an old computer, it's important to take the time to ensure that all data is wiped from the computer's hard drive. Throwing a hard drive into a dumpster, deleting files or even reformatting the hard drive won't stop someone intent on recovering private, personal and confidential data from your computer and using it to gain access to sensitive information and even steal your identity. For related policy information, please review Columbia University's Data Sanitization / Disposal of Electronic Equipment Policy.

To prevent a malicious user from accessing data without extremely expensive equipment, CUIT provides the Columbia community with an easy to use program called DBAN that will wipe all data from a computer's hard drive.

Note: Downloading and saving these files to your desktop will not delete anything. However, once you have created the CD, inserting it into any computer will delete all data on the hard drive without any user interaction, so label them carefully!

If you choose to create a bootable CD-R, be sure your computer has a CD burning program installed before downloading the ISO file.

  1. Click DBAN ISO for creating a bootable CD-R and choose Save. Save the file to your Desktop.
  2. Double-click the DBAN icon on your Desktop to open the file.
  3. Your CD burning application will launch, and you will be asked if you want to burn the disk image to a CD.
  4. Follow the prompts to burn the disk image to the CD.
  5. When complete, remove the CD from the drive; label the CD: DBAN ISO - CD WILL WIPE ALL DATA!

This CD can be used to wipe data from multiple computers.

  1. Download the Rufus USB Installer onto your USB flash drive: https://rufus.ie/
  2. Click DBAN ISO for creating a bootable CD-R and choose Save. Save the file to your Desktop.
  3. Run the Rufus application (double-click). If you see a message on your computer asking to allow the program to run, click Yes.
  4. Rufus will find the USB flash drive. Under the Boot selection drop-down menu, choose Disk or ISO image (the default). Then click SELECT.
  5. When the pop-up menu appears, choose the dban iso option. You can also choose to type “dban” in the Volume label field (so you can find it later in Windows Explorer).
  6. Click Open.
  7. Click START.
  8. You will see a warning message telling you that all data will be destroyed on the USB flash drive. Click OK. Note: If you receive a message stating that the disk is in use, restart your computer and start the Rufus application again (step 5).
  9. Once you create the Rufus DBAN bootable USB flash drive, click CLOSE to finish the process.
  10. Follow the steps to wipe your data.
  1. Click DBAN EXE for creating a boot floppy and choose Save. Save the file to your Desktop.
  2. Double-click the DBAN icon on your desktop to open the file.
  3. When prompted, insert a blank floppy disk (preferably a new one) into your computer's disk drive and follow the on-screen instructions.
  4. When complete, remove the floppy from the drive; label the floppy: DBAN EXE - DISK WILL WIPE ALL DATA!

This floppy disk can be used to wipe data from multiple computers.

Wipe data from a computer using the DBAN CD-R, USB flash drive, or bootable floppy

  1. Insert your new CD, USB flash drive, or floppy disk into the appropriate drive of the machine containing the files you want to delete.
  2. Restart the computer.
  3. Type "autonuke" into the prompt to begin an automated procedure to wipe your entire drive.

If the computer starts up normally, it means you must alter the "boot order" of your computer's drives. This process is different for almost every computer, so you should consult your computer's manual, the manufacturer's website or call the CUIT Service Desk at 212-854-1919 for assistance.