Data destruction software, sometimes called data sanitization software, disk wipe software, or hard drive eraser software, is a software-based method of completely erasing the data from a hard drive.
Data destruction software is just one of several ways to completely erase a hard drive.
When you delete files and then empty the Recycle Bin, you don't actually erase the information, you just delete the reference to it so the operating system can't find it. All the data is still there and, unless it's overwritten, can be easily recovered using file recovery software.
Data destruction software, however, truly does erase the data. Each data destruction program utilizes one or more data sanitization methods that can permanently overwrite the information on the drive.
If you need to remove all traces of a virus or you're planning on recycling or disposing of your hard drive, wiping your hard drive using data destruction software is the best way to protect yourself.
A data sanitization method is the specific way in which a data destruction program overwrites the data on a hard drive or other storage device.
DoD 5220.22-M is a software based data sanitization method used in various data destruction programs to overwrite existing information on a hard drive or other storage device.
The DoD 5220.22-M data sanitization method is usually implemented in the following way:
Pass 1: Writes a zero (0) and verifies the write
Pass 2: Writes a one (1) and verifies the write
Pass 3: Writes a random character and verifies the write
The DoD 5220.22-M sanitization method was originally defined by the US National Industrial Security Program (NISP) in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) and is one of the most common sanitization methods used in data destruction software.
Erasing files on a hard drive using the DoD 5220.22-M data sanitization method will prevent all software based file recovery methods from lifting information from the drive and should also prevent most if not all hardware based recovery methods.