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Hardware/software issues w/ hard drive test/wipe system setup

Discussion in 'All Other Software' started by axio, Oct 24, 2011.

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  1. axio

    axio Thread Starter

    Oct 23, 2011
    Note: not SPAM, and ad, or anything like that...just a really really long, detailed, desperate request for assistance!

    Hello all competent techs!

    Time is of the essence.

    I'm the owner of a young, generation Y eBay company out of Manchester, New Hampshire. Among other things, we sell consumer electronics and computer components, but we specialize in hard disk storage. Specifically, we're processing more than 10,000 hard drives through our facility each month, although we are still quite a small business by many distinctions. Accordingly, we are looking for a free or very very low-cost but effective solution to our hard drive processing (testing+wiping) needs.

    I am in the process of building a hard drive testing/wiping station. I have decided to use multiple retail/out of the box motherboards attached to a KVM to switch between boards since I can use them in my business (if the testing station project fails as currently designed). The MAIN GOAL is to test/wipe up to 40 hard drives at once using a total of 5 motherboards. Other project goals include:

    Required: Evaluation of S.M.A.R.T. drive data for health/performance and/or very-extensive read/write testing
    Required: (At least) minimal drive-format demonstration
    Required: Interoperability for 1.8"/2.5"/3.5" ATA/SATA/SCSI/SAS 1.5Gbps/3.0Gbps/6.0Gbps hard drive conditions (USB support optional)
    Required: Simultaneous or queued drive testing and/or wiping for at least 5 drives per motherboard
    Optional: drive testing/wiping reports preferred, but not required
    Optional: drive hot-swap testing/wiping preferred, but not required
    Optional: multiple current, security-depth testing/wiping standards/methods preferred, but not required
    Optional: OS-independent software execution preferred, but not required
    Required: Free or fixed-cost software to accomplish said goals

    I recently stumbled upon DBAN for hard drive wiping as I was researching a custom build for a more-formidable hard drive wiping procedure than our current method of manual, Windows OS-based S.M.A.R.T. health/performance benchmarking and quick-format in Disk Management. DBAN fulfills most (if not all) of the requirements for this project. However, as I will describe, I am having trouble getting DBAN 2.2.6 Beta to wipe multiple IDE/SATA hard disk drives as specified in its feature list on the DBAN.org website and other sources.

    To preface the project work and research I've done insofar, I've spent (conservatively) more than 60 hours on this project, including hardware research, hardware purchasing, hardware assembly, software research, software sampling, software comparison, and software testing. I've tested and compared more than 15 hard drive wiping programs, including:

    Active Killdisk Suite
    AC Forensics Multi-Wipe
    CMRR HDDerase
    DRE Hard Disk Eraser
    Heidi Eraser
    HDDGURU Disk Wipe Tool
    HD Sentinel
    MiniTool Partition Wizard
    Miray HD Shredder
    Jetico BCWipe
    Paragon Disk Wiper
    White Canyon WipeDrive

    Of these software options, both paid and free, I preferred DBAN (with a few close-seconds) due to its simple but feature-rich user interface, length of time in the market, cost (free), software type (open source), record of reliability, ability to auto-wipe, OS independence, and claim for simultaneous 100+ hard drive wiping capability (see FAQ).

    With that said, here is my issue. I've had to spend about 10 hours, so far, troubleshooting DBAN 2.2.6 Beta and trying to get it to register/wipe multiple hard drives. This has included hands-on troubleshooting, DBAN-specific research, DBAN non-specific research, forum-surfing, fact checking, and more. DBAN only registers a few hard drives at once, and only wipes a max of 2 at a time. Even if more than 2 drives register at one time, a single-drive wiping operation will fail when 3+ drives are installed. With only 2 drives installed and all other hardware unplugged, a concurrent wipe initiates successfully. It's very strange. I am simply unable to get DBAN to reliably and simultaneously wipe more than 2 hard drives at once with my setup.

    Rather than continue to waste time on this, I have two options. Go with one of my 2nd software choices (which is not preferable), or to contact others for help. I've decided to contact others like you for a solution, and once again, I am willing to pay whoever gets me to project resolution first a reasonable fee for their assistance. As I mentioned above, however, this process is very time-sensitive, so I need a solution within the next 3 days.

    Here's some more information...

    Relevant Hardware in use:

    Asus P7P55D-E LX mobo w/ Intel P55 Express chipset
    Intel Core i3 processor @ 3.2GHz
    Apevia Warlock 750w (12v rails @ 17A) ATX Power Supply Unit
    Total 4GB DDR3-1333mhz RAM (Kingston w/ Elpida chips)
    8 total SATA inputs (6 + 2 SATA 3.0Gbps and 6.0Gbps, respectively)
    8 total USB inputs (2 + 4 + 2 USB 2.0, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, respectively)
    1 PCI Express 2.0 x16 (currently housing low-end video card)
    2 PCI Express 2.0 x1 (empty)
    2 PCI Card Slots (empty)
    1 CD-RW/DVD drive (ATA-based) or 1 USB 2.0 CD-RW/DVD-RW
    Windows 7 Professional, 64 bit

    External adapters: SYBA model SD-SATA-IDE conversion units w/ Silicon Image SIL3611 chipset (for ATA to SATA adaptation)
    Cables: 36" SATA cables (max length); standard USB to Mini B cables
    KVM: TRENDnet TK-1601R 16-port PS-2/VGA switch

    Random Facts:

    A variety of drives installed simultaneously register with no problem in Windows 7 Professional 64 bit, including partitioned 3.5" SATA drives, unpartitioned 3.5" SATA drives, IDE-TO-SATA converted drives, USB drives, 2.5" SATA drives, 2.5" IDE-TO-USB drives.

    -Even SATA hard drives register in DBAN as "ATA"
    -2.5" IDE-TO-USB hard drives registers in DBAN as "SCSI"
    -Bootable "HDShredder" and "Total Wipeout" software seems to accomplish multi-drive, simultaneous wiping properly where DBAN does not
    -Hardware being used for this setup is all brand new and has all -been troubleshooted for basic flaws using industry-standard techniques
    -BIOS properly recognizes all hard drives in SATA ports, and up to 2 hard drives in USB ports

    Details on attempted troubleshooting:

    -Extensive research/testing into DBAN 2.2.6 Beta limitations was completed (feedback on this software is limited, but many have indicated such problems with the resulting "DBAN finished with non-fatal errors" message relating to "/dev/sda (process crash)." The consensus is as follows: DBAN 2.2.6 Beta general works properly for 1-2 drives; the program may or may not have USB functionality issues; unrecognized media devices (specifically "card readers" may or may not cause program instability; BIOS bootable devices may or may not be a factor in issues; BIOS boot/device priority settings may or may not be a factor in issues; the 2.2.6 Beta version of DBAN may or may not be a factor in issues; program compatibility with SATA may or may not be a factor in issues)
    -Minimal research into possible faulty power supply (2 separate Apevia Warlock 750s were tested; unsure as to whether peak amperage requirement could cause issue, but unlikely since even 1 drive cannot be wiped using DBAN if 3+ drives are installed)

    Other highlights for attempted troubleshooting:

    -Tested using multiple USB drives only, no success
    -Tested using multiple SATA drives only, no success
    -Tested using alternate (same-model) motherboard, issue still present
    -Tested boot using both USB and IDE CD-ROMs, issue still present
    -Attempted wiping different hard drives recognized in DBAN while 3+ drives are installed, no success
    -Attempted enabling and disabling all drive-related BIOS features and settings one by one, no success

    Troubleshooting to-do list ideas:

    -Re-burn DBAN 2.2.6 Beta Boot CD
    -Re-burn DBAN 2.2.6 Beta Boot CD at 24x or another slower speed
    -Re-burn DBAN using alternate versions
    -Troubleshoot the result of various BIOS hardware manipulation settings
    -Purchase high-quality 1000w PSU and re-test
    -Test using shorter SATA cables
    etc. etc. etc.

    Final comments:

    Can anyone assist? I would first and foremost like to complete this setup using DBAN. If DBAN options have been exhausted, I would like to consider suggestions for other formidable software or software-related solutions. If software options have been exhausted, I would like to consider suggestions for hardware or hardware-related solutions. Any input at all would be helpful. Thank you.

  2. axio

    axio Thread Starter

    Oct 23, 2011
    Again...this is NOT spam...thanks in advance for your help. -Nick
  3. Cookiegal

    Cookiegal Administrator Malware Specialist Coordinator

    Aug 27, 2003
    Hi axio,

    This is to inform you that I'ved edited your post. This is an on-line computer technical assistance community and all assistance is provided in the public forums by volunteers who enjoy giving of their time and expertise to help others. If you wish to pay for a solution then I suggest you contact our partners, Jupiter (you will find their details if you log out and visit our home page), or some other paid service. Thanks for understanding. :)
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