Sunday, May 22, 2011

Write/wipe with zeros to USB drive in Linux

Say, you have a USB thumb drive that you want to donate or give to a friend and you want to ensure that nothings left that might embarrass you, don't worry my friend. As always in the Linux/Unix land there is a tool for that. So to wipe clean a USB drive, do:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdc

"/dev/zero" is a special file  that provides a stream of null characters. "/dev/sdc" is the USB thumb drive. dd is a low level system utility used to copy raw data from a source to a destination. Source being a stream of zeros and destination the thumb drive. So, we just wiped clean our storage media. Note that this is applicable to most storage devices, so be careful.


~ts

2 comments:

Adam said...

Please be careful and do not automatically assume /dev/sdc is "your" usb drive.

You can easily find out what storage devices are attached to the system by running (as super user) fdisk -l

For Ubuntu users, sudo fdisk -l

Better to be safe than sorry :-)

Techno Scavenger said...

You are exactly right. The above command is [quite] dangerous. Thanks for dropping by.