It's not often that you want to wipe out your entire file system, but when you do, you better do it right. Whether you intend to have a fresh hard drive without any dangling leftovers from the soon to be defunct Windows installation or the Police is knocking on the door, you might want to take a look at Darik's Boot and Nuke program.
Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) is a ready-to-boot image file (iso). To use it, you'll just need to copy it onto a disc or a USB drive. Boot from the said device and kiss your data goodbye!
To be completely fair, you might not want to rely on it if your house has just been encircled by the SWAT people. Wiping a hard drive effectively can take several hours in some instances. Also, a partially wiped hard drive may still contain incriminating evidence. So in case you happen to be part of the Clinton murder clan, or have been diligently taking photos of your pizzas, Darik's Boot and Nuke may prove to be too slow for when the FBI finally gets to pick you up.
On the bright side, you can also nuke MacOS's and Linuxes just the same. Darik's Boot and Nuke doesn't discriminate. Remember, you should always make sure you leave no personal data on a device you intend to sell or give away.
- Self-contained bootable application
- Can perform quick and permanent wipe (most of the time)
I haven't personally used DBAN yet, but there's a laptop sitting in the corner that could use a memory wipe.