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Old 10-24-2011, 01:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hardware/software issues w/ hard drive test/wipe system setup + REWARD!

Hello all competent techs!


Let me preface this problem with my willingness to pay a reasonable fee for a solution, or for consultation resulting in a successful solution. If someone solves my problem publicly in this forum, I promise that I will find a way to STILL provide that person a cash bounty reward and/or some free hardware as a thank-you! I may also be interested in paying for consultation on an alternative implementation if it's simply not possible to do what I want using the method and setup I'm attempting. However, 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
Blancco
CMRR HDDerase
DBAN
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. Again, I seriously PROMISE a cash (PayPal) or hardware reward for whoever helps me to resolve this…post here with assistance, or contact me directly if you'd prefer helping on a consultation-only basis. Thank you.


Nick
dbanissueATaxioenterprisesDOTcom
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Old 10-24-2011, 06:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hardware/software issues w/ hard drive test/wipe system setup + REWARD!

From what I have read about DBAN: "DBAN does support older IDE drives, newer SATA and some SCSI drives. I was unable to test a system with SCSI drives"

Have you considered the Enterprise version EBAN?
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Old 10-24-2011, 08:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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In my thread, I mentioned that DBAN 2.2.6 Beta actually does recognize SATA, IDE, SCSI, SAS, and USB drives, but curiously it fails the wipe of any of those types of drives (even IDE) if 3 or more drives are concurrently installed at the time of boot. It's really strange. I'm thinking that it's a simple fix but the developer is either too busy to fix it or, more likely, doesn't want to fix it because he wants EBAN (his income) to take care of that for people. And there's nothing wrong with trying to make money on a program, but I wish he would post something about this either way. DBAN is a popular program, and for a totally dysfunctional beta to be out for this long (18 months) without any PR...just seems a little irresponsible to me. A lot of people are having issues with the program...

I really don't mean to be so down on free software. I mean, it's free. I guess it's just about expectations--I'd initially heard DBAN was in production for years and in his FAQ he says it can handle 100+ concurrent wipes. Sounded like music to my ears since it was free.

It just seems to me that this program could be easily fixed to function properly, since I imagine that the majority of the battle is in getting the program to register multiple drives (which it does properly). It just kicks back a generic error when you attempt to process them. I feel like someone somewhat competent with programming could take the source code he posts on the DBAN website, fix it, and release it. It's not against the terms of use, but I just don't know anyone capable enough!

I have checked out EBAN, but there seems to be limited information out there about it. I also have no idea what it would cost, but it seems to be exorbitantly expensive since they don't post the price on their website. EBAN has many extra features I would never need to use. DBAN is exactly what I need (on paper)...if only it worked!
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:12 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hardware/software issues w/ hard drive test/wipe system setup + REWARD!

Quote:
Originally Posted by axioaxio View Post
I really don't mean to be so down on free software. I mean, it's free. I guess it's just about expectations--I'd initially heard DBAN was in production for years and in his FAQ he says it can handle 100+ concurrent wipes. Sounded like music to my ears since it was free.

It just seems to me that this program could be easily fixed to function properly, since I imagine that the majority of the battle is in getting the program to register multiple drives (which it does properly). It just kicks back a generic error when you attempt to process them. I feel like someone somewhat competent with programming could take the source code he posts on the DBAN website, fix it, and release it. It's not against the terms of use, but I just don't know anyone capable enough!

I have checked out EBAN, but there seems to be limited information out there about it. I also have no idea what it would cost, but it seems to be exorbitantly expensive since they don't post the price on their website. EBAN has many extra features I would never need to use. DBAN is exactly what I need (on paper)...if only it worked!

Why are you going through the hassle of doing the first above method ?
If you have a number of drives like you say which is more than 50+ hdd why not use 2 computers with a decent raid 1 setup to knock out for 4 hdd's at a time using sata hdd's ?

For windows vista/7
Open X command prompts where X is the number of drives attached and ready to be wiped.
At each command prompt...
diskpart
select disk # (where # is one of the disks)
clean all


Also you can buy enclosure kits from ebay with good quality and properly hook them up to a pc using USB 2.0 and do the process that way.
About the cpu you had in mind it's quite good what it does, but any recent 2 year old amd/intel cpu system can handle what you need.

I recommend you look into a AM3 Athlon II tricore system to handle the tasks performed.
I know you want to save a buck and then some but the above you mentioned is sending you overboard.

About your company can't your IT staff help you out with this, not a rude question but I wanted to know where your going with this project you have in mind.
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hardware/software issues w/ hard drive test/wipe system setup + REWARD!

It appears that he is re-selling HDD's... as such needs to have all data securely formatted... a normal format does not remove the data from the disk, but actually just hides the data which can be easily found again.
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Old 10-24-2011, 12:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hardware/software issues w/ hard drive test/wipe system setup + REWARD!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axehack View Post
It appears that he is re-selling HDD's... as such needs to have all data securely formatted... a normal format does not remove the data from the disk, but actually just hides the data which can be easily found again.

Yes I know he wants it all the information destroyed and I hope that is what he intends to do.
If he wants to do this there is command in linux called shred all.
I looked at dbans site and read other reviews, is doesn't seem like they can pull off all what they say can.

You have options and you do not have to be pinned down by a os to do it, use command line boot utilities to get the job done at a steady good pace without quickly messing up the hdd's you have.
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Old 10-25-2011, 10:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hardware/software issues w/ hard drive test/wipe system setup + REWARD!

As someone with a vested interest in IT security, when I first saw this, the little hairs on the back of my neck started tingling. I am still concerned. A fancy web presence is nice, but no indication of sincerity, or legitimacy. I get concerned when I see outdated information on a webpage, especially for a company that deals in IT. For example, your home page says to "check back by March 15, 2011...".

Forums are by their very nature, anonymous. Posters go by funny names and avatars and while the vast majority are sincere, sadly, forums are often frequented by people with dubious intent seeking help for dubious deeds.

Frankly, your services would make a perfect description for a computer "chop shop". So I have to ask, since you are willing to pay money, if Axio Enterprises is your business and if it is legitimate and as big as it reports (up to $500K in registered capital and annual sales up to $2.5million) why not invest that "reward" money in professional IT consulting services that contractually must provide satisfactory, and guaranteed results?

Forums, after all, are typically to help individuals with their personal computer issues. Not companies with multi-million dollar annual sales.

Your request is not unique. There are many charitable organizations that accept donated computers and hard drives who wipe the drives at "mass wipe" levels. They often use "stand-alone" devices (not dependent on any OS or PC) such as one of these. A reputable consulting service should have no problem setting up a viable solution.

I apologize if you truly are legitimate. But I don't apologize for my doubts or for questioning your motives. After all, setting up "the con" (building "confidence" or trust through deceit) is exactly how badguys on the Internet work.
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