How do I wipe my HP server hard drive?

Wiping an HP server hard drive refers to securely deleting all data on the drive so that it cannot be recovered. This is an important step to take when decommissioning a server, selling it, sending it for repair, or repurposing it for other uses. Performing a full disk wipe removes all data including the operating system, applications, settings, and files. This leaves the drive in a blank state ready to be reformatted and reused.

There are a few reasons why you may want to wipe an HP server hard drive:

  • Decommissioning or disposing of an old server
  • Removing sensitive data before sending the server out for repair
  • Sell or donate the server without passing along confidential data
  • Repurpose the server for a different application

Whatever the reason, it’s critical to do more than just a quick format of the drive. Formatting simply removes file pointers and leaves much of the data intact and recoverable with the right tools. Wiping overwrites the data at a low level which is much more secure.

Methods for Wiping an HP Server Hard Drive

There are a couple different methods you can use to perform a full wipe of an HP server hard drive:

Using Disk Sanitization Tools

Most enterprise servers like HP include disk sanitization utilities right in the hardware management tools. For HP servers, this is typically through HP’s Smart Storage Administrator (SSA). The SSA includes an option to perform a cryptographic erase which overwrites all drive sectors with a random pattern at least three times. This conforms to security standards like NIST 800-88 and effectively renders all data unrecoverable.

To use the SSA sanitization tool, boot to the SSA management interface. Then select the drive and choose “Sanitize Disk” from the menu. Pick the cryptographic erase option and all data will be irretrievably erased through a multi-pass random overwrite.

Using Third-Party Disk Wiping Software

If the server hardware doesn’t include a built-in disk sanitization utility, you can use third party disk wiping software. These tools work similarly by overwriting all sectors with random data patterns.

Some popular hard drive wiping utilities include:

  • DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke)
  • KillDisk
  • Active@ KillDisk
  • Hard Disk Wiper

These boot from a CD or USB drive and provide options for multiple overwrite passes. Many also conform to security standards like DoD 5220.22-M for secure data removal.

To use third party disk wiping software, boot the server from the CD or USB drive. Follow the on-screen prompts to select the right drive and choose a multipass overwrite option. Let the wiping process run until completion.

Using the BIOS Secure Erase Function

Some HP servers also give you the option to wipe the hard drive right from the BIOS. This performs a cryptographic erase similar to the SSA tools.

To access the Secure Erase function, press F10 during boot to enter the BIOS. Navigate to the Secure Erase menu. Select the drive you want to wipe. Choose the Secure Erase option and confirm. This will initiate a full cryptographic wiping process on that drive.

Steps to Wipe an HP Server Hard Drive

Follow these steps to fully wipe an HP server hard drive:

  1. Back up any data you need to preserve from the drive.
  2. Boot the server and access the HP SSA management tools.
  3. Select Sanitize Disk for the target drive.
  4. Choose the Cryptographic Erase disk sanitization method.
  5. Confirm the selection and start the sanitization process.
  6. Allow the process to run through multiple overwrite passes until completion.
  7. Alternatively, boot from third party disk wiping media.
  8. Follow prompts to select the drive and run a multipass overwrite.
  9. Reboot the server once the disk wipe has finished.
  10. The drive is now wiped and ready to be reformatted.

The amount of time it takes to fully wipe a hard drive depends on the drive capacity and speed of the server. For large multi-terabyte server drives, it can take several hours to complete a full cryptographic wiping. Plan accordingly for this process.

Precautions When Wiping an HP Server Hard Drive

Here are some precautions to keep in mind when wiping an HP server hard drive:

  • Backup first – Always backup data you need to keep before wiping a drive.
  • Wipe all drives – If wiping before disposal, sanitize all drives in the server.
  • Confirm completion – Verify the wiping utility completed with no errors.
  • Destroy storage – Physically destroy drives storing sensitive data before disposal.
  • Documentation – Keep records documenting the sanitization process.

Following security best practices helps ensure you thoroughly purge data from an HP server during drive wiping.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a quick format enough to wipe an HP server hard drive?

No, a standard quick format is not sufficient for securely erasing a server hard drive. A quick format only removes file pointers and leaves most data intact on the drive. To fully wipe an HP server drive, you need to use a disk sanitization utility or third party wiping tool that overwrites all sectors.

How many passes are needed to fully wipe a drive?

Most standards recommend at least three passes to effectively wipe a hard drive. This includes one pass to overwrite data with random characters, a second pass with binary zeros, and a third pass to verify the wiping. More passes provide extra assurance but three full passes are generally sufficient.

Can wiped data be recovered?

With the proper cryptographic wiping methods, data cannot be recovered from a wiped hard drive. The only way would be through very expensive forensic reconstruction in a specialized lab environment. For everyday purposes, properly wiped data can be considered irretrievable.

Can I wipe a hard drive while it’s still installed in the server?

Yes, options like the HP SSA tools allow wiping drives without removing them from the server. You can also boot most third-party wiping tools by CD or USB without needing to remove the server drives.

What is the best free hard drive wiping software?

Some top free disk wiping utilities include DBAN, KillDisk, and Hard Disk Wiper. These provide efficient, multipass overwriting to securely remove data from hard drives. Most can boot from a CD or USB drive and wipe internal or external drives.


Wiping an HP server hard drive requires using disk sanitization tools or third party software that perform a full cryptographic erase. This overwrites all sectors multiple times with random data to prevent any chance of recovery. Options like the HP SSA tools provide built-in drive wiping capabilities for quickly and securely erasing drives before decommissioning, repurposing or disposing of HP servers. Following proper precautions helps guarantee no sensitive data remains after wiping server hard drives.

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