Radified Guide to
Deleting Hard Drive Partitions
For those who are having trouble deleting a partition
If you're having trouble deleting partitions, for any reason, you can try a utility
called Wipe, made by IBM. It will write zeros to the first 8GB of your hard drive,
including the partition table.
A similar program called Zap will write zeros to the first 128 sectors.
will do the same thing as Wipe. You can download both of these utilities here. If
you can't find these utilities online, I can send them to you.
Update 09dec2002: Chris Smith says Wipe worked fine with his (non-IBM) Seagate
Barracuda (SCSI) drives. He says he installed Linux and the O/S named the volume
with a random set of characters/symbols that a standard keyboard can't type.
He couldn't delete the volume because he couldn't type in the volume name.
The most common scenario for needing Wipe or Zap is when you create partitions
for Linux, but cannot get rid of them. You will lose everything on your entire hard
drive when using either Wipe or Zap.
They are not the most user-friendly programs you've ever used. Read the instructions
first. If you have more than one hard drive in your system, consider disconnecting all
other drives first. It's not difficult to wipe the wrong hard drive.
Another Wipe-like program is BCWipe (US$30). This program will wipe the entire drive.
It's used more for things like wiping a drive before you sell it, so the recipient isn't
able to see any of you triple-top-secret information.
A third method comes from Bill Bell. He referenced an MS-DOS routine included
in the freely-available debug.exe. The particular routine that Bill mentions deletes
all partitioning info. He reports using this method successfully several times, and
never a problem (using a Win98/SE boot disc).
As it says here, these debug routines are (already) utilize functionality already
contained in command.com, which comes with MS-DOS. You can find the file
debug.exe (20KB) in \Windows\Command directory (for WinME). I also searched
for and found a debug.exe in \Winnt\system32 (Win2000). For WinXP, the file is
You must copy this file to the start-up floppy you plan to use. After booting with
the floppy in the A: drive, type "debug" (with the quotes) at the A:\ prompt. This
will launch the debug program.
About a dozen debug routines are covered here, but the one of interest is the one
labeled: Erase all HDD information. Bill includes this info:
One other detail...DEBUG always starts with a dash (-). On the first two lines,
you need to enter everything *exactly* as it is shown. Then starting with the
third line, DEBUG will report a Hex number (xxxx:xxxx) and you will type in the
MOV and INT commands and all that follows exactly as shown.
If you run into problems using debug, Bill has offered to help. He can be reached
here. Do your home work before bothering him. The actual debug program Bill uses
can be found here (fdisk.com).
This particular version comes from Dell support without their expressed consent.
The steps are exactly the same, but the Dell version is color-coded, which might
help the uninitiated.
This routine should be run from true-DOS - not a DOS window inside of Windows.
Consider disconnecting all drives except the one you want to wipe, to preclude
wiping the wrong one. I have not tried this method myself, but Bill is a trustworthy
Eric (from New York City) wrote to say that he encountered problems with a W98
Start-up disk. He gets the error: "NTLDR is missing Press any key to restart."
Pressing 'any key' does no good.
The Windows Me boot disk from bootdisk.com allows you to access FDISK. But FDISK
could not delete an NTFS partition. A utility called delpart.exe is required. You can
download delpart.exe from either my Binaries page, or from bootdisk.com (listed near
the bottom under the heading labeled Partitioning).
It's 123KB. Copy it to your boot floppy and execute it from there. Delete NTFS partitions
as desired. Then reboot and create partitions with FDISK. So the combo that works to
delete NTFS partitions (I'm told) is: delpart.exe on a WinMe boot floppy.
Return to -> Doc's Über FDISK Guide to Partition a Hard drive (page 1 of 2)