[HowTo] erase an external disk (USB, SD-Card, ...) EASILY (through a GUI)

Difficulty: ★☆☆☆☆

Note: The below procedure will not erase your device securely! It will help you do this easily without much chance for you making a human error instead… :innocent:

The below procedure will wipe your disk so a normal user cannot see any data without forensic tools. If you want to securely erase a disk, so even the CIA, NSA, ФСБ, 国安部 cannot read it, consult your device manufacturer’s documentation.

  1. Ensure the device is not connected to your computer, so put it in your pocket, on the shelf behind you, between your teeth, … :grin:
  2. Reboot just to ensure that any trace of the device has disappeared from your system. (I never said it was going to be fast, just that it would be easy)
  3. Go to the partition manager for your desktop:
    • partitionmanager for KDE
    • gparted for Gnome
    • Any of the 2 above for XFCE as it doesn’t have its own
  4. Enter the password if needed
  5. For partitionmanager: (click on the to expand)
Details
  • The list of disk devices permanently connected to your computer shows up at the left side of the window:

    (In my case: 3 devices)
  • Familiarise yourself with their names as a new device will be added in the next steps!
  • Now insert the device you want to erase (take it from in between your teeth, from your pocket or from the shelf behind you) :innocent:
  • If your environment asks you to do anything with the device: don’t, just go to the step below.
  • Hit F5 on your keyboard OR go to menu item Tools and click Refresh Devices F5
  • The device will now show up as an additional device below or in-between your existing devices (and why you should have familiarised yourself with the permanent devices in a previous step) :man_shrugging:
  • Right-click the new device, choose New Partition Table and skip to step 7.
  1. For gparted: (click on the to expand)
Details
  • Open the drop-down menu at the upper right corner of the window as per below screenshot:
  • Familiarise yourself with the names of the devices that show up there as a new device will be added in the next steps!
  • Now insert the device you want to erase (take it from in between your teeth, from your pocket or from the shelf behind you) :innocent:
  • If your environment asks you to do anything with the device: don’t!, just go to the step below.
  • Hit F5 on your keyboard OR go to menu item GParted and click Refresh Devices
  • The device will now show up as an additional device below or in-between your existing devices in the same menu (and why you should have familiarised yourself with the permanent devices in a previous step)
  • Click on the new device.
  • Click on the Device menu and choose Create Partition Table
  1. Nowadays there are just two kinds of partition table you might need:
    • If you need compatibility with appliances like a TV, Camera, or that fruity company that we cannot mention or they’ll sue us, take MSDOS. :innocent:
    • If you only want compatibility between recent versions of Linux and Windows (8-10), take GPT.
  2. Verify again you’re working on the correct device! (No! Really! You’re going to destroy all data)
  3. Click the Apply button (to the left on KDE, to the right on Gnome) and verify again when your partition manager asks you to.
  4. Go to the Partition menu and choose New
  5. If you need compatibility with:
    • appliances like a TV, Camera, or that fruity company, take:
      • FAT32 for devices created less than 10 years ago.
      • FAT16 if between 10 and 20 years old
      • FAT if it was manufactured in the previous millennium. :grin:
    • only Linux and Windows NT 4.0 → Windows 10 use NTFS.
      (Use the appliance section above for Windows 1.0, 286, 386, Win3.x, Win95, 98 and ME)
  6. Close your partition Manager
  7. Safely remove the disk

Done!

:innocent:

3 Likes