erasing hard disk in legacy Macs

Discussion in 'Apple' started by scribbler38, Jul 28, 2005.

  1. scribbler38

    scribbler38 Guest

    I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6), whose
    hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old computers
    to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.

    I found a suggestion online that suggests you can find your way to disk
    utilities on Mac installer CDs that will allow you to wipe a drive, but
    I can't get the Mac to boot from the CDs (I have both OS9 and OS10
    disks). I'm holding down the C key upon bootup to no avail.

    Strangely, when the system boots up fully to OS 7.6, the OS9 or OSX
    installer CDs come up only with a file called "Why Can't I Find My
    Files," or something similar, explaining that the CD cannot be read
    without upgrading the OS. Okay fine--but how can I upgrade the OS if
    the system can't read the installation CDs of the newer OS?

    Though this is a head-scratcher to me, I really don't care whether the
    system gets upgraded or not. All I want to do is erase the hard disks!
    (I'd simply yank the hard drives and wipe them on a PC except for the
    fact that the Mac hard drives are SCSI, and the PCs I have available
    are all IDE-based, sigh).

    Any ideas as to how the disk erasure could actually be accomplished?

    Thanks in advance--
    scrib
     
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  2. Tim Streater

    Tim Streater Guest

    In article <>,
    "scribbler38" <> wrote:

    > I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6), whose
    > hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old computers
    > to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    > original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.
    >
    > I found a suggestion online that suggests you can find your way to disk
    > utilities on Mac installer CDs that will allow you to wipe a drive, but
    > I can't get the Mac to boot from the CDs (I have both OS9 and OS10
    > disks). I'm holding down the C key upon bootup to no avail.
    >
    > Strangely, when the system boots up fully to OS 7.6, the OS9 or OSX
    > installer CDs come up only with a file called "Why Can't I Find My
    > Files," or something similar, explaining that the CD cannot be read
    > without upgrading the OS. Okay fine--but how can I upgrade the OS if
    > the system can't read the installation CDs of the newer OS?


    Probably around here the filesystem was changed from HFS to HFS+. The
    "why can't I find my files" file should explain this. The system on the
    machines you have cannot read the CDs. Looks like they cannot boot OS9
    CDs, either. What model are they?

    I think you can download OS 7.5.5 or so from the Apple web site which
    might allow you to make a boot floppy containing just the disk utility
    program which would permit you to reformat the disks.

    -- tim
     
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  3. scribbler38

    scribbler38 Guest

    The models are a PowerMac 7200. I'm assuming that 7.6 was the original
    OS that came installed on the machine.

    Downloading 7.5.5 to make a boot floppy sounds like a great idea, or at
    least one I haven't tried yet ;-) Thanks for the suggestion--I'll give
    it a whirl.

    scrib
     
  4. Hans Aberg

    Hans Aberg Guest

    In article <>,
    "scribbler38" <> wrote:

    > I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6), whose
    > hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old computers
    > to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    > original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.


    > Though this is a head-scratcher to me, I really don't care whether the
    > system gets upgraded or not. All I want to do is erase the hard disks!


    If you merely want that the old information should not be recoverable,
    erasing wouldn't do, as it will merely be marked no in use, but you would
    have to reformat the hard disk completely. Alternatively, you can remove
    all pertinent information, take a sizable folder with no important
    information, and duplicate or some suitable subdirectory, until the hard
    disk has been filled out pretty well. Then you have overwritten most
    information at least once, and can remove the directory. I think for a
    complete wipeout, the old information should be overwritten at least three
    times, though.

    --
    Hans Aberg
     
  5. Tom Stiller

    Tom Stiller Guest

    In article <>,
    (Hans Aberg) wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > "scribbler38" <> wrote:
    >
    > > I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6), whose
    > > hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old computers
    > > to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    > > original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.

    >
    > > Though this is a head-scratcher to me, I really don't care whether the
    > > system gets upgraded or not. All I want to do is erase the hard disks!

    >
    > If you merely want that the old information should not be recoverable,
    > erasing wouldn't do, as it will merely be marked no in use, but you would
    > have to reformat the hard disk completely. Alternatively, you can remove
    > all pertinent information, take a sizable folder with no important
    > information, and duplicate or some suitable subdirectory, until the hard
    > disk has been filled out pretty well. Then you have overwritten most
    > information at least once, and can remove the directory. I think for a
    > complete wipeout, the old information should be overwritten at least three
    > times, though.


    Using Disk Utility, select the device (not the named partition) and
    choose "Erase". Depending on what version you have you will have
    options for "secure erase", including free space, or writing zeros to
    all blocks. Either option will take a long time and neither will make
    the data unavailable to a high tech data recovery process, but unless
    you've got some super valuable data on the drive, the cost of recovering
    it will outweigh any potential gain.

    --
    Tom Stiller

    PGP fingerprint = 5108 DDB2 9761 EDE5 E7E3
    7BDA 71ED 6496 99C0 C7CF
     
  6. Hans Aberg

    Hans Aberg Guest

    In article <>,
    Tom Stiller <> wrote:

    > Using Disk Utility, select the device (not the named partition) and
    > choose "Erase". Depending on what version you have you will have
    > options for "secure erase", including free space, or writing zeros to
    > all blocks. Either option will take a long time and neither will make
    > the data unavailable to a high tech data recovery process, but unless
    > you've got some super valuable data on the drive, the cost of recovering
    > it will outweigh any potential gain.


    There used to be a Disk Utility plus a mini-Mac OS fitting on a diskette.
    This way, also the hard disk on a computer without a CD-drive can be
    reformatted. (Erase with writing to zeroes is perhaps the best option.)

    --
    Hans Aberg
     
  7. Al

    Al Guest

    In article <>,
    (Hans Aberg) wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > "scribbler38" <> wrote:
    >
    > > I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6), whose
    > > hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old computers
    > > to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    > > original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.

    >
    > > Though this is a head-scratcher to me, I really don't care whether the
    > > system gets upgraded or not. All I want to do is erase the hard disks!

    >
    > If you merely want that the old information should not be recoverable,
    > erasing wouldn't do, as it will merely be marked no in use, but you would
    > have to reformat the hard disk completely. Alternatively, you can remove
    > all pertinent information, take a sizable folder with no important
    > information, and duplicate or some suitable subdirectory, until the hard
    > disk has been filled out pretty well. Then you have overwritten most
    > information at least once, and can remove the directory. I think for a
    > complete wipeout, the old information should be overwritten at least three
    > times, though.


    I use a StuffIt utility called "Secure Delete." It overwrites the data
    with ones and zeros a couple of times. Most will not be able to recover
    any data that might be on there.

    On my computer, I don't use the trash, I only use "Secure Delete" to
    dispose of my files.

    Al
     
  8. In article <>,
    scribbler38 <> wrote:

    > I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6), whose
    > hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old computers
    > to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    > original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.
    >
    > I found a suggestion online that suggests you can find your way to disk
    > utilities on Mac installer CDs that will allow you to wipe a drive, but
    > I can't get the Mac to boot from the CDs (I have both OS9 and OS10
    > disks). I'm holding down the C key upon bootup to no avail.


    There is a floppy "boot disk" for OS 7.5. You should be able to
    reformat after booting from it. It is called "Network Access"
    and can be found at:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~gamba2/bootdisks.html

    There is also a 7.6 disk utility disk at the same site.

    Cathy

    --
    "there's a dance or two in the old dame yet." - mehitabel

    C.Stevenson, M.D.
     
  9. In article <>,
    Al <> wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > (Hans Aberg) wrote:
    >
    > > In article <>,
    > > "scribbler38" <> wrote:
    > >
    > > > I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6), whose
    > > > hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old computers
    > > > to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    > > > original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.

    > >
    > > > Though this is a head-scratcher to me, I really don't care whether the
    > > > system gets upgraded or not. All I want to do is erase the hard disks!

    > >
    > > If you merely want that the old information should not be recoverable,
    > > erasing wouldn't do, as it will merely be marked no in use, but you would
    > > have to reformat the hard disk completely. Alternatively, you can remove
    > > all pertinent information, take a sizable folder with no important
    > > information, and duplicate or some suitable subdirectory, until the hard
    > > disk has been filled out pretty well. Then you have overwritten most
    > > information at least once, and can remove the directory. I think for a
    > > complete wipeout, the old information should be overwritten at least three
    > > times, though.

    >
    > I use a StuffIt utility called "Secure Delete." It overwrites the data
    > with ones and zeros a couple of times. Most will not be able to recover
    > any data that might be on there.
    >
    > On my computer, I don't use the trash, I only use "Secure Delete" to
    > dispose of my files.


    You can also get a "secure delete" in the suite of PGP utilities. Public
    domain, too.

    Isaac
     
  10. In article <>,
    Isaac Wingfield <> wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > Al <> wrote:
    >
    > > In article <>,
    > > (Hans Aberg) wrote:
    > >
    > > > In article <>,
    > > > "scribbler38" <> wrote:
    > > >
    > > > > I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6), whose
    > > > > hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old computers
    > > > > to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    > > > > original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.


    > > On my computer, I don't use the trash, I only use "Secure Delete" to
    > > dispose of my files.

    >
    > You can also get a "secure delete" in the suite of PGP utilities. Public
    > domain, too.
    >
    > Isaac


    Secure Delete and the like are insufficient. They will not delete files
    that you can't get at in the first place. One example: the
    VirtualMemory swap file. I've investigated -- the VMfile contains all
    sorts of nasty stuff you never imagined would be stored, like cleartext
    passwords. The problem is that this file is not only invisible but
    locked when you've got virtual memory enabled, AND it doesn't exist (so
    far as the Mac OS is concerned) when you have virtual memory disabled.
    However, the data remain on the drive and the only way I know of to kill
    it off, save a full disk format, is to use Norton's Erase Free Space
    (with virtual memory disabled of course) or equivalent tools.
     
  11. Tom Stiller

    Tom Stiller Guest

    In article <>,
    Carl Witthoft <> wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > Isaac Wingfield <> wrote:
    >
    > > In article <>,
    > > Al <> wrote:
    > >
    > > > In article <>,
    > > > (Hans Aberg) wrote:
    > > >
    > > > > In article <>,
    > > > > "scribbler38" <> wrote:
    > > > >
    > > > > > I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6), whose
    > > > > > hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old computers
    > > > > > to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    > > > > > original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.

    >
    > > > On my computer, I don't use the trash, I only use "Secure Delete" to
    > > > dispose of my files.

    > >
    > > You can also get a "secure delete" in the suite of PGP utilities. Public
    > > domain, too.
    > >
    > > Isaac

    >
    > Secure Delete and the like are insufficient. They will not delete files
    > that you can't get at in the first place. One example: the
    > VirtualMemory swap file. I've investigated -- the VMfile contains all
    > sorts of nasty stuff you never imagined would be stored, like cleartext
    > passwords. The problem is that this file is not only invisible but
    > locked when you've got virtual memory enabled, AND it doesn't exist (so
    > far as the Mac OS is concerned) when you have virtual memory disabled.
    > However, the data remain on the drive and the only way I know of to kill
    > it off, save a full disk format, is to use Norton's Erase Free Space
    > (with virtual memory disabled of course) or equivalent tools.


    You can start OS X in single-user mode, mount the filesystem R/W, and
    secure erase the swapfile(s) with:
    srm /var/vm/swapfile*

    --
    Tom Stiller

    PGP fingerprint = 5108 DDB2 9761 EDE5 E7E3
    7BDA 71ED 6496 99C0 C7CF
     
  12. In article <>,
    Tom Stiller <> wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > Carl Witthoft <> wrote:
    >
    > > In article <>,
    > > Isaac Wingfield <> wrote:
    > >
    > > > In article <>,
    > > > Al <> wrote:
    > > >
    > > > > In article <>,
    > > > > (Hans Aberg) wrote:
    > > > >
    > > > > > In article <>,
    > > > > > "scribbler38" <> wrote:
    > > > > >
    > > > > > > I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6),
    > > > > > > whose
    > > > > > > hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old
    > > > > > > computers
    > > > > > > to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    > > > > > > original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.

    > >
    > > > > On my computer, I don't use the trash, I only use "Secure Delete" to
    > > > > dispose of my files.
    > > >
    > > > You can also get a "secure delete" in the suite of PGP utilities. Public
    > > > domain, too.
    > > >
    > > > Isaac

    > >
    > > Secure Delete and the like are insufficient. They will not delete files
    > > that you can't get at in the first place. One example: the
    > > VirtualMemory swap file. I've investigated -- the VMfile contains all
    > > sorts of nasty stuff you never imagined would be stored, like cleartext
    > > passwords. The problem is that this file is not only invisible but
    > > locked when you've got virtual memory enabled, AND it doesn't exist (so
    > > far as the Mac OS is concerned) when you have virtual memory disabled.
    > > However, the data remain on the drive and the only way I know of to kill
    > > it off, save a full disk format, is to use Norton's Erase Free Space
    > > (with virtual memory disabled of course) or equivalent tools.

    >
    > You can start OS X in single-user mode, mount the filesystem R/W, and
    > secure erase the swapfile(s) with:
    > srm /var/vm/swapfile*


    Thanks for the tip -- but my impression was that the OP had ancient macs
    that didn't even support OS 9 let alone X.
     
  13. In article <>,
    Tom Stiller <> wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > Carl Witthoft <> wrote:
    >
    > > In article <>,
    > > Isaac Wingfield <> wrote:
    > >
    > > > In article <>,
    > > > Al <> wrote:
    > > >
    > > > > In article <>,
    > > > > (Hans Aberg) wrote:
    > > > >
    > > > > > In article <>,
    > > > > > "scribbler38" <> wrote:
    > > > > >
    > > > > > > I have inherited a number of antiquated Macs (running OS 7.6),
    > > > > > > whose
    > > > > > > hard disks I need to erase prior to donating them to an "old
    > > > > > > computers
    > > > > > > to third world countries" program. I do not, alas, have any of the
    > > > > > > original 7.6 OS disks, nor do I have OS 8 disks.

    > >
    > > > > On my computer, I don't use the trash, I only use "Secure Delete" to
    > > > > dispose of my files.
    > > >
    > > > You can also get a "secure delete" in the suite of PGP utilities. Public
    > > > domain, too.
    > > >
    > > > Isaac

    > >
    > > Secure Delete and the like are insufficient. They will not delete files
    > > that you can't get at in the first place. One example: the
    > > VirtualMemory swap file. I've investigated -- the VMfile contains all
    > > sorts of nasty stuff you never imagined would be stored, like cleartext
    > > passwords. The problem is that this file is not only invisible but
    > > locked when you've got virtual memory enabled, AND it doesn't exist (so
    > > far as the Mac OS is concerned) when you have virtual memory disabled.
    > > However, the data remain on the drive and the only way I know of to kill
    > > it off, save a full disk format, is to use Norton's Erase Free Space
    > > (with virtual memory disabled of course) or equivalent tools.

    >
    > You can start OS X in single-user mode, mount the filesystem R/W, and
    > secure erase the swapfile(s) with:
    > srm /var/vm/swapfile*


    Thanks for the tip -- but my impression was that the OP had ancient macs
    that didn't even support OS 9 let alone X.
     
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