Hard Drive Wiping and Imaging

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Drive Wiping

Preliminary Information

Currently there are 6 hard drive wiping/testing machines (5 SATA/IDE wiping stations, 1 multibay array dubbed "The Penguin") connected to a KVM (keyboard, video monitor and mouse) switch. 5 machines can be wiping or testing up to 2 SATA or 2 IDE drives simultaneously, while the array handles 12 IDE drives at a time.


Instructions for the SATA~IDE stations



  • There are two pairs of cables extending out of the front of each hard drive bay onto wooden panels where hard drives in the progress of being wiped/tested may rest. Both cables must be attached to perform a wipe or test IN PAIRS (ie. IDE~IDEPWR, S-ATA~S-ATAPWR)
  • One of the cables is a data transfer cable, which is a flat ribbon-type cable composed of 80 strands of coated wire (referred to as an "IDE" or "Parallel ATA" cable/connector.) and a thin red or blue silicone wrapped 'cord' similar to that of liquorice. (referred to as a 'S-ATA' connector, or 'SERIAL-ATA connector')
  • The other cable type is the power cable, which is composed of separate colored wires leading to a white connector (IDE power connector also referred to as an "Molex" cable/connector.) and a thin black connector(referred to as S-ATAPWR).
  • The power and data transfer cables may have multiple connectors. It is best to use only one of the connectors from each cable. Make sure the cables to a disk are all coming from the same machine.
  • When wiping drives in pairs, try to use exactly the same size drives. If you do not have two of the exact same drives to wipe try not to, for example, wipe both a 20GB drive and 250GB drive together. 20/30, 30/40 or 60/80 etc would be more appropriate 'close' pairs. This is done so that both drives will finish being wiped around the same time.

40-60Gb drives are ALWAYS the priority. While 200+GB drives are usually wiped as they are required.

  • At the beginning of each day, there are probably going to be drives on the machines that are either still wiping, or that are finished and need to be removed from the drive table. Read the steps below and start from the step about identifying which machine is beeping (indicating a finished hard drive wipe.)
  • When all of the machines are busy wiping, you can work on sorting incoming drives, dismantling failed drives, and imaging drives for build.
  • Fibre Channel drives can not be tested and so are automatically dismantled and scraped (these drives can be identified by the long 'fiber channel' connection on the end that commonly has the drive connect interface.)


Please note this section is currently under revision, Thanks for your patienc. KC

  1. Plug two similarly-sized drives into a turned-off machine.
  2. Once both drives are connected, turn the machine on with the power button marked on the face of the machine. The power switch could be hanging from a wire, some examples.
Press the large dot on what looks like a 5 on dice.
green plastic holds a black switch in the middle.
This one hangs out of the front of the computer, the white plastic is the switch .
  1. Press the button on the KVM that corresponds to the machine with the drives you are wiping. This will set the monitor and keyboard to be used by that machine (be patient the KVM responds slowly).
    • You should see a bunch of text scroll by and finally a screen with a menu option
    • sometimes there will be an option for you to press F1 to continue.
Main menu.
  1. Select the Wipe hard drives option using the arrow keys on the keyboard
    • If all goes well, you will be presented with a screen with a couple lines of text. There will be a description of the two drives you plugged in.
  2. If this report agrees with what you plugged in, type in your volunteer number at the prompt to begin wiping the drives. If you do not know your volunteer number, ask a staff member to look it up for you.
    • Once the drives have started wiping, you will see a list of numbers printed repeatedly down the screen. The wiping process will take a couple hours, give or take, depending on the size of the disks connected.
  3. The next step is to cycle through the machines using the KVM switch. You will find that at least one of the machines is showing text that differs from the list of numbers which were scrolling by during wiping.
    • Read the bottom of the screen carefully. It should show a line for each of the disks connected and either a green PASSED or red FAILED tag followed by Wiper Script FinishedHDWipIma2.jpg
    • Match up the description of the drive for each by comparing the manufacturer, model number, capacity, and serial numbers listed on on the screen to the ones listed on the drives themselves. If the drive showed PASSED, put a green sticker on it. If it FAILED, put a big X across the label of the drive.
  4. Turn the machine off by holding the power button of the machine for 5 seconds, or until the screen goes black.
  5. Unplug the drives.
  6. Put the green stickered drives on the shelf below the machines. Put X'd drives in the scrap drive bin.
  7. Continue cycling through the machines until another another wipe report is found and follow the same steps as above.
  8. When you have dealt with finished drives, you are ready to load up vacant machines with new drives, starting the process over again.

Drive Imaging

  • There is a smaller cluster of 3 or 4 machines connected to its own display and keyboard via a KVM switch which is used to install operating systems on tested good drives.

HDWipIma9.jpg KVM under the blue monitor. Switch 3 is taped over.

HDWipIma6.jpg Machine 1 and 2 cables can be easily mixed up.

(To be documented)

preferrably, set drives to master (jumper magic) before doing an install.

For many Western Digital drives, the 'master' jumper means "Master WITH SLAVE on the same cable". If this setup is chosen, then linux will not recognize that there is a drive to install. Power off, pull the jumper (or set to CS) and try again.

Technical information

(to be documented) see fgwipe.py in "wipe"/svn


  • Philips #2 - For most philips
  • Torx T8 - Most 3.5" torx drives
  • Philips #000 - Laptop drives
  • Torx T5 - Laptop drives