Keep Data Privacy: How to Erase External Hard Drive in Windows 10

Embark on a journey to master data privacy as we guide you through the steps of erasing an external hard drive on Windows 10. Unveil the built-in tools and leverage the power of AOMEI Backupper for a secure data wipe.


By Jonna Updated on January 24, 2024

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In an era dominated by digital advancements, safeguarding your data privacy is paramount. When it comes to retiring an external hard drive, ensuring that sensitive information is permanently erased becomes crucial. In this guide, we will delve into the intricacies of erasing an external hard drive in Windows 10, emphasizing data security and privacy.

Erase External Hard Drive Windows 10

Understanding the Need for Erasing External Hard Drive on Windows 10

Unveiling the Problem

Before we embark on the journey of erasing external hard drives on Windows 10, it's imperative to comprehend the problem at hand. When you delete files or format a drive, the data doesn't vanish entirely. It lingers on the drive, susceptible to recovery with specialized tools. This poses a significant risk if the external hard drive is to be reused, sold, or disposed of.

Potential Causes

Incomplete Deletion

Deleting files using the standard Windows delete function leaves traces behind.

Formatting Limitations

Formatting a drive may not necessarily erase data, as it primarily prepares the drive for new data storage.

Risk of Data Recovery

Sensitive information can be recovered using data recovery software, even after deletion or formatting.

Four Easy Solutions for Secure External Hard Drive Erasure

Here are 4 methods about how to wipe a hard drive for reuse. You can choose the one you prefer for external hard drive erasing.

Solution 1: Wipe External Hard Drive with AOMEI Backupper

AOMEI Backupper comes with a Disk Wipe tool that can help you clean select partitions or an entire hard drive, local or external, and it prevents your data from being recovered by zero filling. How to erase external hard drive using this tool? Follow these steps:

Step 1. Install AOMEI Backupper:

Begin by installing AOMEI Backupper, a reliable software for secure data erasure.

Step 2. Select Disk Wipe Option:

Open AOMEI Backupper and navigate to the Tools tab. Choose the Disk Wipe option.

Step 3. Choose External Hard Drive:

Choose Wipe Disk, and select the external hard drive you intend to erase. Click Next.

Step 4. Choose a Wiping Method and start Erasure Process:

Select a Wiping Method with the safety level and speed you need, hit Start to clear the disk. Then, AOMEI Backupper will initiate the secure erasure process, overwriting data to ensure it is irrecoverable.

Solution 2: Windows Built-in DiskPart Utility

Step 1. Open Command Prompt:

Launch Command Prompt as an administrator.

Step 2. Access DiskPart:

Type diskpart and press Enter to open the DiskPart utility.

Step 3. List Drives:

Enter list disk to view all connected drives. Identify the external hard drive.

Step 4. Select External Hard Drive:

Type select disk [disk number] to choose the external hard drive.

Step 5. Clean the Drive:

Enter clean to remove all partitions and data from the drive.

Step 6. Create New Partition:

Follow up with create partition primary to create a new partition.

Step 7. Format the Drive:

Format the drive using format fs=ntfs quick to ensure the erasure is comprehensive.

Solution 3: Use File Shredding Software

Step 1. Install File Shredding Software:

Explore reliable file shredding software such as Eraser or File Shredder.

Step 2. Select External Hard Drive:

Open the software and select the external hard drive for erasure.

Step 3. Configure Shredding Settings:

Configure settings to perform multiple passes for secure data overwriting.

Step 4. Initiate Shredding Process:

Start the shredding process, ensuring the software performs multiple overwrites for data security.

Solution 4: Format External Hard Drive

Step 1. Access the Hard Drive:

Open File Explorer, right-click the drive you want to clean, and choose Format.

Step 2. Configure Format Settings:

Select a File system and make sure not to check the Quick Format option, because it will make the data easy to recover.

Step 3. Start the Erasing Process

Tap on Start to format the drive. It will erase all the data and fill sectors with zero. That’s done with how to wipe hard drive on Windows 10.

FAQs About Erasing External Hard Drive in Windows 10

#1. Can erased data be recovered?

Yes, if not securely erased. Utilizing specialized tools can recover data even after deletion.

#2. How many passes are sufficient for secure erasure?

Multiple passes, such as three or more, enhance the security of erasure. However, modern drives may not require extensive passes.

#3. Can I reuse the external hard drive after erasure?

Yes, after secure erasure, the external hard drive can be safely reused or repurposed.

Tech Terms Demystified

Data Overwriting

The process of replacing existing data with new information to prevent recovery.

DiskPart Utility

A command-line utility in Windows for disk partitioning and management.

File Shredding

Secure deletion method that involves overwriting data multiple times to prevent recovery.


In the pursuit of data privacy, erasing external hard drive on Windows 10 is not just a task; it's a responsibility. By implementing the outlined solutions and understanding the importance of secure erasure, you can confidently navigate the process, safeguarding your sensitive information from unauthorized access.

Embrace the power of secure erasure to keep your data in safe hands and uphold the principles of digital privacy in the ever-evolving landscape of technology.

Jonna · Editor
Jonna joined AOMEI in 2021 and has become a professional in the areas of computer backup and restoration, disk cloning, file synchronization, etc. She maintains a keen eye for the latest technology trends, ensuring that the information provided is always in step with industry developments.