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nwipe secure disk eraser

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nwipe is a program that will securely erase the entire contents of disks. It can operate as both a command line tool without a GUI or with a ncurses GUI as shown in the example below. It can wipe a single drive or multiple disks simultaneously. Nwipe can be found in many Linux distro repositories and the latest version of nwipe is available as a Bootable USB flash image from here. This can be written to a USB flash drive in seconds, allowing you to boot straight into nwipe.

The user can select from a variety of recognised secure erase methods which include:

  • Zero Fill - Fills the device with zeros, one round only.
  • RCMP TSSIT OPS-II - Royal Candian Mounted Police Technical Security Standard, OPS-II
  • DoD Short - The American Department of Defense 5220.22-M short 3 pass wipe (passes 1, 2 & 7).
  • DoD 5220.22M - The American Department of Defense 5220.22-M full 7 pass wipe.
  • Gutmann Wipe - Peter Gutmann's method (Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory).
  • PRNG Stream - Fills the device with a stream from the PRNG.
  • Verify only - This method only reads the device and checks that it is all zero.
  • HMG IS5 enhanced - Secure Sanitisation of Protectively Marked Information or Sensitive Information

It also includes the following pseudo random number generators: * Mersenne Twister * ISAAC

It is a fork of the dwipe command used by Darik's Boot and Nuke (dban). nwipe is included with partedmagic, SystemRescueCD, gparted live and ShredOS/ShredOS 2020 if you want a quick and easy, bootable CD or USB version. If you want a bootable version of the very latest nwipe master that you can write to a USB stick, see quick and easy bootable version of nwipe master

Nwipe was created out of a need to run the DBAN dwipe command outside of DBAN, in order to allow its use with any host distribution, thus giving better hardware support.

The example below shows six drives being simultaneously erased. The video skips to the completion of all six wipes and shows five drives that were successfully erased and one drive that failed due to a I/O error. The drive that failed would then normally be physically destroyed. The five drives that were successfully wiped with zero errors or failures can then be redeployed.

Example wipe

Compiling & Installing

requires the following libraries to be installed:
  • ncurses
  • pthreads
  • parted

and optionally, but recommended!, the following programs:

  • dmidecode
  • readlink
  • smartmontools

Debian & Ubuntu prerequisites

If you are compiling

from source, the following libraries will need to be installed first:
sudo apt install \
  build-essential \
  pkg-config \
  automake \
  libncurses5-dev \
  autotools-dev \
  libparted-dev \
  dmidecode \
  coreutils \

Fedora prerequisites

sudo bash
dnf update
dnf groupinstall "Development Tools"
dnf groupinstall "C Development Tools and Libraries"
yum install ncurses-devel
yum install parted-devel
yum install dmidecode
yum install coreutils
yum install smartmontools

Note. The following programs are optionally installed although recommended. 1. dmidecode 2. readlink 3. smartmontools.


dmidecode provides SMBIOS/DMI host data to stdout or the log file. If you don't install it you won't see the SMBIOS/DMI host data at the beginning of nwipes log.

coreutils (provides readlink)

readlink determines the bus type, i.e. ATA, USB etc. Without it the --nousb option won't work and bus type information will be missing from nwipes selection and wipe windows. The coreutils package is often automatically installed as default in most if not all distros.


smartmontools obtains serial number information for supported USB to IDE/SATA adapters. Without it, drives plugged into USB ports will not show serial number information.

If you want a quick and easy way to keep your copy of nwipe running the latest master release of nwipe see this section automating the download and compilation


For a development setup, see the hacking section below.

First create all the autoconf files:


Then compile & install using the following standard commands:

make format (only required if submitting pull requests)
make install

Then run nwipe !

cd src
sudo ./nwipe
sudo nwipe


If you wish to submit pull requests to this code we would prefer you enable all warnings when compiling. This can be done using the following compile commands:

./configure --prefix=/usr CFLAGS='-O0 -g -Wall -Wextra'
make format (necessary if submitting pull requests)
make install


-O0 -g
flags disable optimisations. This is required if you're debugging with
in an IDE such as Kdevelop. With these optimisations enabled you won't be able to see the values of many variables in nwipe, not to mention the IDE won't step through the code properly.


flags enable all compiler warnings. Please submit code with zero warnings.

Also make sure that your changes are consistent with the coding style defined in the

file, using:
make format
You will need
installed to use the

Once done with your coding then the released/patch/fixed code can be compiled, with all the normal optimisations, using:

./configure --prefix=/usr && make && make install

Automating the download and compilation process for Debian based distros.

Here's a script that will do just that!. It will create a directory in your home folder called 'nwipemaster'. It installs all the libraries required to compile the software (build-essential) and all the libraries that nwipe requires (libparted etc). It downloads the latest master copy of nwipe from github. It then compiles the software and then runs the latest nwipe. It doesn't write over the version of nwipe that's installed in the repository (If you had nwipe already installed). To run the latest master version of nwipe manually you would run it like this `sudo ~/nwipemaster/nwipe/src/nwipe`

You can run the script multiple times, the first time it's run it will install all the libraries, subsequent times it will just say the the libraries are upto date. As it always downloads a fresh copy of the nwipe master from Github, you can always stay up to date. Just run it to get the latest version of nwipe. It takes all of 11 seconds on my I7.

If you already have nwipe installed from the repository, you need to take care which version you are running. If you typed

from any directory it will always run the original repository copy of nwipe. To run the latest nwipe you have to explicitly tell it where the new copy is, e.g in the directory
. That's why you would run it by typing
sudo ~/nwipe_master/nwipe/src/nwipe
alternatively you could cd to the directory and run it like this:
cd ~/nwipe_master/nwipe/src

Note the ./, that means only look in the current directory for nwipe. if you forgot to type ./ the computer would run the older repository version of nwipe.

Once you have copied the script below into a file called buildnwipe, you need to give the file execute permissions

chmod +x buildnwipe
before you can run it. Download script ```


cd "$HOME" nwipedirectory="nwipemaster" mkdir $nwipedirectory cd $nwipedirectory sudo apt install build-essential pkg-config automake libncurses5-dev autotools-dev libparted-dev dmidecode readlink smartmontools git rm -rf nwipe git clone cd "nwipe" ./ ./configure make cd "src" sudo ./nwipe ```

Quick & Easy, USB bootable version of Nwipe Master for x86_64 systems.

If you want to just try out a bootable version of nwipe you can download the ShredOS image that's using the latest version of nwipe master and burn it to a USB stick. Instructions and download can be found here

Which Linux distro uses the latest Nwipe?

See Repology


Bugs can be reported on GitHub:


GNU General Public License v2.0

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