Simple formatting doesn't touch the boot sector of the drive, or wipe the drive clean. All it does is write a new file allocation table, discarding the old info and leaving the old files to be overwritten.

A wipe typically overwrites the drive multiple times with either random data or a progression of 1's, 0's, and finally random data. A government wipe uses all of these methods multiple times to make data unrecoverable.

Preparing The Drive
I'll start with the procedure for a used drive here. Once cleaning is finished, the procedure is is the same for new or used drives. I'll be focusing on windows 98SE for the most part simply because this is the most popular operating system to date. Yes it is! I can hear the howls now from the hardcore XP fanatics but XP's numbers still do not approach those of windows 98 either for sales or the number of people using that system in recent surveys of both users and websites who participated.

Click picture for close up view

ITEM 1-1
Assuming you've followed the instructions that came with Active KillDisk, you should now have either a floppy or a bootable CD ready to use. It's time to start the PC with the media loaded. If you have more than one drive, it's safest to disconnect any drives you don't want wiped. The free version of KillDisk doesn't offer much choice and you wouldn't want to make any mistakes.

ITEM 1-2
Starting KillDisk
If you're using a floppy, You'll need to start the computer with a win9x floppy disk. Killdisk doesn't include the bootfiles. At the command prompt, type killdisk.exe. You'll see in this image that the floppy is highlighted. Bad choice if you ever want to use it again. Use your arrow keys to select the drive to clear.

ITEM 1-3
Select The Drive
When you've highlighted the correct drive (Be sure about this!), press enter

ITEM 1-4
At this point, you'll be asked how many passes to make. This is redundant as the free version only allows one pass. If you want to run it again, just reboot and reload.

ITEM 1-5
Press enter and the program will ask you to type KILLDISK all in caps to confirm.

ITEM 1-6
Erasing begins. This may take some time depending on your system speed and the size of your drive. It's not advisable to interrupt the process on the first pass. In some cases, it may be necessary to do a few passes to 10% after the first pass to get rid of stubborn boot programs.