Securely erase physical drives with dban and Hyper-V

I’m writing this between jobs – I’ve left BlueMetal, and haven’t started at Microsoft yet. I’m using this time to do a deep clean on my home office, and I’ve come across a number of hard drives that need disposal. But how to do so securely, so data can’t be recovered? And how can I hit a budget goal of, say, zero?

This article from ZDNet offers three options: one software (Darik’s Boot and Nuke – dban), one hardware (Wiebetech’s Drive eRazer Ultra), and one brute force (drive a nail through the platters). The hardware solution would be perfect if I did this every week, but it’s kind of expensive and this isn’t something I’ll use very often. The brute force solution might be good if I had a lot of pent up aggression, but it physically destroys the drive. That leaves the software approach, and a bunch of people recommended dban. But they recommend running it on a dedicated machine because by default it wipes out all connected hard drives and it’s easy to accidentally wipe out everything.

So I had the idea of using Hyper-V, my favorite virtualization tool that’s built into Windows 10 (Enterprise, Professional, or Education editions). Virtualization provides a safe sandbox to run dban, and I can run it in the background on my existing PC.

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