Best Way to Wipe a Hard Drive Clean and Erase Everything on Mac

So you’ve decided that it’s the end of the road for your Mac, external drive or a memory card. Selling (or donating) an old Mac or digital device often makes sense because of its residual value, or you do it for the sake of generosity.

But it can be a little scary … why?

Because you have likely invested lots of time into using your MacBook or iMac or a removable disk drive, and chances are your computer or device is packed with data — i.e. all your personal or business stuff.

Obviously, you don’t want the new buyer (or owner) to have access to your chat history, social footprint or sensitive banking information.

In short, you need to erase your Mac hard drive or securely wipe all files if it’s an external disk…but how?

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you the best yet most efficient way so you don’t have to pay a trip to Apple Store or waste several hours using other methods.

Let’s get started.

First off — backup or transfer your personal data!

The reason is simple; disk wiping is irreversible. You don’t want to get rid of the wrong files and panic. Anyway, this step is important. Don’t skip it.

If you are moving to a new Mac, make sure you have latest Time Machine backups with you and have the actual files such as pictures, videos, and documents stored on an external hard drive. If the device you’re selling or giving away is an external device such as an HDD, a USB flash drive, or a high-volume camera SD card, be sure you’ve successfully transferred all the important data.

Thanks to the cloud storage services, these days much of your items can be stored in the cloud often without any cost. Service providers like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. often allow you to upload gigabytes of data to a space dedicated to your account for free. In particular, since you are an Apple fan, iCloud makes it even easier to sync or back up your devices.

Introducing the best wiping solution

While you may find many other methods or options available to get the job done. Personally, I prefer to use this third-party utility called — Stellar Wipe, a Mac app that’s specifically designed to erase specific files/folders or the entire drive.

Free Download Stellar Wipe to Mac

What I like about the app is its ease of use and various options. You don’t have to tech-savvy to handle the software as it offers a user-friendly interface (together with detailed instructions). Plus, it comes with some useful features like erasing entire Mac hard drive, wiping external disks, cleaning web browser traces, etc. You probably won’t use all the functions, but it gives you the flexibility and efficiency. Below is is a tutorial on how to use the software.

How to erase files or entire disk drive on Mac using Stellar Wipe

Warning: before you proceed, double check to make sure you’ve successfully backed up all of the important data.

Preparation: if you want to erase an external hard drive or a USB flash, connect the device to your Mac computer first. Be sure that your Mac can recognize the device.

Step 1: free download Stellar Wipe and install the application on your Mac machine (e.g. MacBook Pro, iMac, etc.). Follow the instruction to install the app.

Step 2: launch the app. The main interface of the software is like this (see the screenshot). You see two options: File Wipe: shreds individual files or folders. Drive Wipe: erases an entire volume or partition.

Step 3: if you want to wipe the entire hard drive, select “Drive Wipe” and click “Continue”. Now select the hard drive(s) you want to completely erase or shred files from. Highlight it and click “Continue”.

Step 4: here you’ll see a list of wiping algorithms supported by the app. Click each algorithm and read the description that comes with it. You don’t have to understand these algos perfectly. The general rule is, the more passes or overwrites it conducts, the harder the erased drive or files can be recovered.

Step 5: click “Continue” and wait for a few seconds or minutes (depending on what algorithm you choose) for the operation to complete. Note: if your Mac contains only one main partition, which also includes the OS X system files. Stellar Wipe will need you to make a bootable DVD in order to perform the wiping.

If you intend to wipe several specific files or folders, make sure you select “File Wipe” option in step 2. Then follow the guide shown in the software interface, you shouldn’t have any problems handling it on your own.

Conclusion

See, erasing a Mac hard drive or wiping specific files/folders on macOS doesn’t have to be complicated. With the above technique, it’s often much quicker and easier to get the job done. So you can save the time to clean your device or better optimize your eBay selling ad hoping to get a higher bid. You don’t have to worry about the risk that your personal data could be retrieved. And you can now hand over your Mac or external drive the new owner with confidence. One last reminder, be sure to backup your personal files to another computer or cloud storage before you proceed.