Installing A Workstation > Pre-Install > Wiping The Hard Drive

Wiping The Hard Drive

New workstations come with the latest Windows operating system preinstalled. Old workstations have Windows burdened with all the cruft that comes with running software of various kinds. If you are intent on using a given version of Windows (say, Windows 2000) that is not the latest, you will need to wipe the hard drive. If you are going to use ZENWorks imaging, you will need to wipe it anyway.

The first restoration CD has in its DOS folder a utility program called GWSCAN. It checks a hard drive for bad sectors (where you don't want data or programs stored) and writes zeroes into it.

There are two versions of GWSCAN about: an older version for hard drives with ten gigabytes or less; and a newer, faster version for larger hard drives. We will use the new version, which comes with all the latest Gateways.

To use GWSCAN:

  1. Boot the computer with the first restoration CD in the CD drive.
  2. Choose to boot from the CD.
  3. Choose to boot to the DOS prompt. You should be at the prompt D:\DOS>
  4. Type GWSCAN and press Enter.
  5. Navigate to 'Write Zeros To Drive' and press Enter.
  6. At the warning prompt, press 'F' for a full wipe, or 'C' for a quick wipe.
  7. Press 'C' to begin the wipe.
  8. If you chose a full wipe, do something else for 20-30 minutes.
  9. When the wipe is done, navigate to 'Quit' and press Enter.
  10. Replace the restoration CD with a Windows 2000 installation CD for a brand-new workstation, or a ZENWorks Imaging CD for a retread.
  11. Press Ctrl-Alt-Del to restart the computer.


The quick wipe zeroes out the first and last million sectors of a hard drive. This usually takes less than five minutes, which is very useful if you are pressed for time. If preparing an old workstation with a lot of sensitive data, however, use the full wipe.

When GWSCAN launches, a box will appear on the upper-right corner. This displays the hard drive's stats, such as manufacturer, model, capacity (as cylinders/heads/sectors per track), and so on. If you use the newer version and see nothing in this box but blanks and zeroes, quit GWSCAN and look for the older version.

© 2003 by Andy West. Written 26 November 2003.