In this guide, you will learn the best possible ways to secure erase an internal or external Mac hard drive volume and purge sensitive data beyond the scope of recovery.
Erasing external Mac hard drive or internal Mac drive volumes is as easy as pie!
Just open Disk Utility, choose a Mac drive volume, and click ‘Erase.’
Alternatively, you may open the Finder app, explore the files in the Mac volumes, and erase as many files as you want.
But beware! If you think erasing sensitive files via Finder app or Mac hard drive volumes via Disk Utility is enough to shield against data theft or offline data breaches, then think again!
In macOS, erasing a Mac hard drive without using security options only deletes and overwrites the existing file system index. It’s similar to quick formatting in Windows, and so, the data remains on the drive and can be recovered by using a basic data recovery software.
To protect your data on Mac hard drive from theft, offline breaches, and data recovery, you need to secure-erase all sensitive and confidential files or Mac hard drive volumes as per international data erasure standards.
How to Secure Erase a Mac Hard Drive
Secure eraser works by overwriting the actual data—not just the index entry from the file system—with pseudo-random values. Data once overwritten as per international erasure standard is virtually impossible to recover.
Following are a few possible ways that you can follow on macOS to securely erase an internal or external Mac hard drive volume.
CAUTION: Back up all your important files from your Mac hard drive before heading any further.
Secure Erase Mac Hard Drive via Disk Utility
On your Mac system,
Go to Applications >Utilities and click on ‘Disk Utility’
Select the hard drive or hard drive volume from the left pane
Click the ‘Erase’ tab at the top
Enter the volume ‘Name’ and choose a ‘Format.’
Click ‘Security Options…’ and move the slider to ‘Most Secure.’
The ‘Most Secure’ option implements U.S. DOD 5220.22M (7-pass) secure data erasure standard to erase your Mac hard drive securely.
In some cases, the Disk Utility may fail to format the disk. This can happen due to a problem with the drive. In such a case, you can use Terminal commands to secure erase Mac hard drive volumes.
Secure Erase Mac Hard Drive Volume via Terminal
Beside Disk Utility, you can wipe a Mac hard drive volume via the Terminal app. If you are familiar with command-line tools or Disk utility fails to format or erase the selected Mac hard drive volume, follow these steps:
Go to Applications >Utilities and open the Terminal app
Typediskutil list, This command lists all the connected disks and volumes. Note down the disk number of Mac hard drive volume you want to erase. Alternatively, you may open Disk Utility, select the drive or drive volume and press information icon at the top right corner to note down the disk number.
Then type diskutil secureErase 2 disk# Replace # with the disk number. This will erase the selected Mac hard drive with US DoD 5220.22M (7-pass) erasure standard
NOTE: With secureErase terminal command, you can’t secure erase a hard drive volume. It securely wipes the entire disk.
If you wish to erase only free space on the Mac hard drive, enter following command and press the ‘Return’ key,
diskutil secureErase freespace 2 disk#s# Again, replace # with the disk number
Secure Erase Mac Volumes and Sensitive Files via BitRaser for File
BitRaser for File is a certified and secure file eraser software that helps you erase every bit of sensitive data from your Mac device as per international data erasure standards such as DoD 5220.22-M(3 passes/7 passes), NATO, etc.
This Mac utility uses 17 international data erasure standards and two verification methods—Total and Random—that simultaneously verify and confirm data erasure.
Files and Mac volumes erased by using BitRaser for File can’t be recovered through any data recovery software or services, including forensic tools.
Download, install and launch ‘BitRaser for File’ on your Mac system
Click on the gear icon at the top and choose ‘Settings.’
Select a data erasure algorithm and verification method from the respective lists and click ‘OK.’
Toggle ON ‘Files & Folder’ and toggle OFF all other options
Click ‘Next’ and choose the Mac drive volume that you want to erase
Click ‘Erase’ and then confirm the choice
Post eraser task, you Mac machine may restart
With BitRaser for File, you can repeat erasure tasks as many times as you want and use multiple data erasure standards to erase your Mac hard drive volumes effortlessly.
You may also use the ‘Search & Erase’ option to secure erase specific files and generate a tamper-proof and digitally signed certificate of erasure. This certificate and data erasure report can be used as a legit document to meet regulatory compliances. The certificate also guarantees data destruction beyond the scope of recovery to an extent where no data recovery software or service, including forensic tool, can get back data.
Erasing Mac hard drive volume isn’t difficult. But when it comes to data security, you must use the security options available in Disk Utility to securely erase a Mac hard drive volume. Secure eraser works by overwriting existing data with pseudo-random values in a defined pattern, as per the selected data erasure standard.
Advanced users can use Terminal commands as mentioned in this guide. But if you are erasing a Mac drive to get rid of a few sensitive and confidential files, use BitRaser for File. It’s a certified secure file erasure and privacy safeguarding tool that securely erases your sensitive data and Mac hard drive volumes as per 17 international data erasure standards.
Besides, you can use the tool as system cleaner and safeguard your privacy by securely erasing other sensitive data hidden on your Mac devices by various apps and system such as browsing history, saved passwords, cards, chats, emails, transaction details, autofill form data, etc.
Aruna Attri is a Senior Data Recovery Expert at Stellar®. She is a technology blogger and Windows expert. She has experience in Windows data recovery domain. She loves to troubleshoot Windows issue and write technical tips and tutorials.