Securely Erasing USB Devices

These instructions are for using Eraser software to securely erase data from removable storage devices such as flash drives, USB sticks, thumb drives, or external hard drives. The primary resource for disposing of a computer belonging to the University of Notre Dame is through the ND Surplus process. If you need to dispose of an entire computer or wipe a machine prior to re-use, you should erase the hard drive contents using DBAN.

WARNING: Eraser is a powerful tool that will permanently remove data. This process is not reversible.

Eraser software is designed for use on Windows systems only. To use Eraser, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install Eraser from the developer's website.
  2. Accept the default installation options.
  3. Reboot your computer when prompted.
  4. When your computer reboots, start Eraser by pressing the Start button and choosing All Programs -> Eraser -> Eraser.
  5. You will see the Eraser screen shown below:

    main_screen_erase_1

  6. From the File menu, choose New Task. You will see the Task Properties window shown below:

    new_task_erase_2

  7. Choose Files on folder and then click the "..." icon to select the folder you'd like to erase. If you want to securely erase an entire drive (such as a USB flash drive), double-click My Computer, select the drive name (e.g., "Removable Disk (D:)") and click OK.
  8. Click the Subfolders checkbox to remove all data in subfolders.
  9. Click the Remove folder(s) checkbox to delete the directory structure on the drive. At this point, your task window should appear like the one below:

    completed_task_erase_3

  10. Click OK. You will then see the Eraser main screen with the new task, as shown below:

    main_screen_with_task_erase_4

  11. From the Task menu, choose Run All. When prompted, click Yes to confirm that you wish to permanently delete the selected data.
  12. You will see a progress screen similar to the one below:

    progress_erase_5

  13. When the erase completes, exit the program. You should check the drive contents (using My Computer) to confirm the location is now empty.

If you have questions, please contact your departmental IT support or the OIT Help Desk at (574) 631-8111 for assistance.