How to Use DBAN

By Nick Peers

Discover how you can install DBAN on a USB flash drive and then use it to erase the data from an entire hard drive. The data cannot be recovered.

Darik's Boot and Nuke is a free data-erasing utility that can wipe your entire hard drive and overwrite everything on it with garbage data. Overwritten files are almost impossible to recover, so you can safely use DBAN before you sell your computer to ensure that no one can recover any sensitive information.

You can install and run DBAN from external media -- CDs, DVDs or flash drives.


DBAN erases everything on the target hard drive and overwrites the data in one or more passes. Recovering even a small part of the data is impossible in most cases. Make sure you select the correct drive before erasing the data.

Installing DBAN on a USB Flash Drive

Step 1

Open the Universal USB Installer Web page and click the Download UUI button to save the utility on your hard drive.

Step 2

Selecting the DBAN settings and creating the bootable USB drive.

Double-click the file and click I Agree to agree to the terms and conditions and then select DBAN 2.2.X from the Step 1 drop-down box.

Click Browse in the Step 2 section and select the DBAN ISO file you downloaded from the official website.

Select the USB flash drive from the Step 3 drop-down box and then check the We Will Format... box to format the drive.

Click the Create button to install DBAN on the USB Flash drive.


If you can't find the DBAN ISO file after clicking the Browse button, type the full path -- C:\Users\Your_Username\Desktop\dban.iso for example -- to the file into the File Name field.


Clicking Create formats the USB flash drive; recovering the data may be impossible.

Using DBAN to Erase the Hard Drive

To avoid erasing important data from another hard disk, you can remove all hard drives except the one you want to wipe, and then reconnect the other hard drives to the computer later.

Step 1

Restart the computer, change the boot order from BIOS and select the USB drive as the first boot device. The DBAN flash drive is a bootable drive.

Step 2

Press Enter to start DBAN in Interactive Mode -- it prompts you to choose various options before erasing the drive. If you want to erase all hard drives immediately -- not recommended -- type autonuke and press Enter.

Step 3

Select the hard drive to erase by highlighting it using the J (Up) and K (Down) keys and pressing Space. Make sure the drive you select is the drive you want to erase by looking at its size.


Press M if you want to change the method used by DBAN to erase the drive. The default -- Department of Defense Short method -- is enough for most users, but you can choose an even safer method like DoD 5220.22-M or Gutman Wipe.

Press R to choose the number of rounds. One round is the default setting, but the DoD Short method does three passes by default. If you use 2 rounds, DBAN will wipe the hard drive in six passes using the DoD Short method.

Step 4

Press F10 to start erasing the hard drive if you are absolutely sure that you want to erase everything, and you understand that the data will be irrecoverable.


The process takes up to an hour for larger hard drives; do not turn off or reboot the computer while DBAN is erasing the hard drive.

The word Pass is displayed on a green background when the wipe is complete.