Home Technology Use the format command to write the number 0 to the hard drive

Use the format command to write the number 0 to the hard drive


An easy way to write Write (Zero) to the hard drive to erase all data, is to format the drive in a special way, using the format command from the Command Prompt. The format command has the flexibility to jot down zeros beginning with Windows aspect, thus if you employ associate older package, you will not be able to use the format command as a knowledge destruction software package.

The System Repair Disc can be created from any active Windows 7 computer, and can then be used to burn 0 to any drive using the included format command, including the main drive, regardless of the system. Which Windows operating system is running on the computer. System Repair Disc does not install Windows 7 and you will not need the product key to use the System Repair Disc.

It takes a few minutes to several hours to write 0 to the hard drive via the format command

How to fill the hard drive with a zero with the format command

You can write zeros to the Winchester drive with the format command each in Windows 7 and Windows vista, yet as from outside the package

You will need to open a Command Prompt window with admin rights
  • Create System Repair Disc in Windows 7. You will need to access the Windows 7 computer to create the System Repair Disc. However, there is no need to use your own Windows 7 computer. If you don’t have a Windows 7 PC then find a friend to create thanks to the System Repair Disc from that person’s computer. If you do not have or cannot find a way to create a System Repair Disc, you will not be able to write 0 to the drive this way.
If you have a Windows Vista or Windows 7 installation DVD, you can start it instead of creating a System Repair Disc
  • Boot from System Repair Disc and see the message “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD …” after the computer is on and make sure to do so. If you don’t see this message and instead say “Windows is loading files …”, everything will be fine.
  • Wait for the “Windows is loading files …” screen to appear. When finished, you will see the System Recovery Options box. Change any language or keyboard input methods you need and then select Next
Don't worry about the "loading files" message! Nothing is installed anywhere on your computer. Only the System Recovery Options have just started, needed to access the Command Prompt and finally write 0 to the hard drive
  • A small dialog box next to it says “Searching for Windows installations …”. After a few seconds, it will disappear and you will be taken to the System Recovery Options window with two options. Selecting Use recovery tools can help fix Windows startup problems. Select an operating system to repair. Then click Next
Your operating system may or may not be listed. If you are using another operating system such as Windows XP or Linux, nothing will show up here and that's okay. You do not need a compatible operating system on this computer to write 0 to data on the hard drive
  • Select Command Prompt from the System Recovery Options screen
This is a fully functional version of the Command Prompt and contains most of the commands you would expect available from the Command Prompt in the installed version of Windows 7. Including the format command
  • At the prompt, enter the content below, then press Enter
format e: /fs:NTFS /p:2

The format command used in this way will format drive E with the NTFS file system and write the number 0 to each sector of the drive twice. If you format another drive, change E to whatever drive letter you need.

A zero entry to the hard drive will prevent all software-based file recovery programs from extracting information from the drive, which the format command in Windows 7 and Vista does by default. However, you can perform this method twice to ensure safety. Even if you want to protect yourself from more dangerous data recovery methods, choose a true data destruction program with advanced options.

  • Type the volume label of the drive you are formatting when asked, and then press Enter. Volume labels are not case-sensitive
Enter current volume label for drive E:

If you don’t know the volume label, cancel formatting with Ctrl + C and then see how to find the volume label

If the drive you are reformatting does not have a label then logically you will not be asked to enter this information. So if you don't see this message, that means the drive you formatted has no name and everything is fine
  • Type Y and then press Enter when prompted with the following warning


Warning: You cannot undo after formatting! Make sure you want to format and permanently delete this drive! If you format your primary drive, you will delete your operating system and the computer will not work again until you install a new operating system.
  • Wait until the format process is complete

Formatting a drive of any size can take a long time. Formatting a large drive can take a very long time. Formatting a large drive with multiple zeros can take a very, very long time

  • After the format, you will be prompted to enter a Volume label. Enter a name for the drive or not, and then press Enter
  • Wait until the message “Creating file system structures” is displayed on the screen
  • When the prompt appears, repeat the steps above for any other partitions on this physical hard drive. You cannot consider data on an entire physical hard drive destroyed, unless you actually format all drives using this method.
  • Now, you can remove the System Repair Disc and turn off the computer. If you used the format command from within Windows, simply close the Command Prompt.
With all data replaced with zeros, there will no longer be any information found on the hard drive with a file recovery program
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