Best Way to shred + write discs


Status message

You are not a member of this team. If you want to be part of this team, click on 'Subscribe to this team'.

Hi people,

in situations when I need to sanitize a few laptops, I get annoyed by having e.g. 4 laptops running 24/7 just to have 'shred' running and cloning the image. So I got myself an external HDD to USB adapter to be able to just shred and supply HDDs from my normal private laptop and install them in the sanitized laptops afterwards.
Here is the adapter I bought:

Problem: I used a Tails Linux installation booted from USB stick and command 'shred' to shred a HDD connected by mentioned adapter. Always after a few minutes, I got an 'I/O write' error and shredding failed.
I tried another borrowed adapter and the same approach worked, but the shredding was much slower than during the few minutes when it did not yet fail with my adapter. The only difference I saw was the working adapter had only USB2, while mine had USB3.

So my questions to you people come done to this:
- How do you kill the data on laptops for sanitizing?
- Do you leave the HDDs inside the laptops or do you use some adapter, like I tried?
- Do you use command 'shred'? If yes, how many rounds? If no, what tool do you recommend?
- Any recommendations around my 'I/O write' error?

Thank you!
Nürnberg, Germany


Rhein-Ruhr-Hub's picture
Submitted by Rhein-Ruhr-Hub on Thu, 06/04/2020 - 09:34

Hi Sebastian,
data removal of donated laptops is a key aspect for Labdoo. So you have to go through this procedure, even lasting long time. Labdoo recommends to shred 3 times by random numbers. I cannot say anything to Tails Linux, but Labtix comes with shrad (based on Antix) or you use the integrated shred-routines in the 1-click installer.
Depending on CPU and disk size this may last several hours, but our donors trust in that. Having shred 10,000+ laptops I know what I am talking about.
It is not necessary to remove a disk from a laptop. But if you want to use an external USB-adapter, its interface speed is the 3rd factor having an influence on the time needed to shred. All this is physics and has nothing to do with Labdoo, its images for cloning or tool used.
BTW, as German hub you don't have to buy this equipment yourself. Our supporting association e.V. will provide you with anything you need. And we also bought too cheap USB-adapter a few weeks ago. There were problems during shred and installation process, it stopped after several hours. Some had bad USB-connector, others seems to have internal (software?) problems (the one you bought from Pearl is a good one, have it here as well). To avoid problemsUSB-adaptors of good quality should be used.
Some donors / partners remove data already before giving laptops to Labdoo, e.g. AfB or bb-net in Germany.
To answer your questions:
- I use Labtix tool set, as data removal and installation is done in one step ("shed, install and forget")
- Yes, 99% a HDD stays inside a laptop for installation.
- Yes, either as part of Labtix process or in a terminal, see
- If I/O errors: first check with GSMART (part of Labtix), if HDD reports any errors. If so, you need a new spare disk-drive (in Germany via e.V.). Or use a good USB-adapter, if connected externally. or install a disk using a 3rd laptop, take its HDD and built it into the "problem" laptop.
I am sure, there are much more ways to solve problems. Hope I could help you or call me on phone. Or send your "problem" laptops to hub Rhein-Ruhr :)


MichaelKnight's picture
Submitted by MichaelKnight on Wed, 06/17/2020 - 07:05

Hi Ralf,

totally on your side on the importance of the secure deletion, no worries :)
I was just thinking about making the process more efficient, also as I don't have the room anymore to have multiple laptops running. But I think after reading through your comment and regarding your huge experience, I think I will also go back to leaving the HDD in the laptop during deletion. I will sanitize one laptop after another then...
Thank you!

Any other feedback on personal sanitizing processes are appreciated!