full description of a Free Space erase problem


New Member
I have had a problem with Eraser v6.0.8 running on XP Pro SP3 32bit.

Here's what happened.

- cut then pasted all files on an external storage USB Iomega 300G HD to the computer drive, so the external drive is then empty.

- ran Erase Free Space of the external drive using Guttman 35 passes using pseudorandom.

- at the very end, Eraser would not finish. The progress bar showed all tick marks to the very end, but it just kept running, never completing.

- I ended Eraser, but had to do so with Task Manager.

- I checked inside the external drive and a randomly named folder was there. I opened this but the Windows flashlight searching animation happened and kept going. I checked Properties for this folder and the dialog showed 27,000 files and continuing to climb (oddly, it said it was 0 bytes in size, btw). I couldn't end this box as the file count continued to climb and ended up shutting down and restarting the machine.

- After restart, I deleted the randomly named folder on the external drive, which took about 20 minutes.

- after this delete, the system says this external drive is 298G in size and that it now has 281G of free space.

My main questions are:

- is the external drive now erased of all the data I cut pasted from it at my first step above?

- what happened here and what should I do, if anything?

I should add that I did an identical free space erase on another external drive the day before (after cut pasting as above; this 300G was also full like above), and Eraser completed it with none of the issues described above, although the report in Eraser did say "completed with errors". It also had the folder of randomly named files afterwards but, in this case, when I deleted it, it deleted quickly. Not like the 20 minutes above. I was able to open it to see lots of randomly named files.

To avoid my writing at length, please could you read the FAQ (link below) 'sticky' posts entitled 'Getting to know Eraser 6' and 'Common Eraser Questions'. This will, among other things, enable you to view the task log for the erase that did complete.

As you have removed all your data from the first target drive, I would run a quick format on it before using free space erase again, but use only the default single pass erase, as that is all that is needed. Gutmann is now known to be gross overkill. The erase should complete, on a newly recreated file system, which itself be overwritten so that the drive is clear. Formatting should remove whatever was left on your drive to create the problem.

Original Poster here...

OK, to format the external USB drive in question (no OS) I clicked My Computer > Manage > Disk Management > (right-click) the external drive and selected "Format". After clicking "yes" at a pop-up asking about something about whether I want to proceed and that "there may be errors", the info at bottom right pane in Computer Management for this drive showed "formatting" for about 10 seconds. This changed from "formatting" to "healthy" after those ten seconds. This bottom right pane in Computer management is also showing 298.09 GB in box grey area and in small info box to immediate right now showing 298.09 NTFS. Sorry, but I didn't notice if it said FAT for this one before my format procedure.

The external drive I erased free space on two days ago, the one that seem to proceed OK, is also showing NTFS in The Computer Management dialog. However, I have never done the format procedure as above for this one, which puzzles me.


- Was the ten seconds all that was needed to format a 300GB external drive doing what I did above in the first paragraph?

- how did the external drive I erased free space for two days ago (to which I refer to in the very last paragraph of the first post) end up as NTFS today when I have done nothing to make it so? Both drives are Iomega 300 GB. Maybe both were NTFS out of the box, I don't know.

I am now doing a one pass Free Space erase for the external drive, as you suggested. I will do the same for the previous external drive as well afterwards.

Ten seconds would be reasonable for a quick format (which I think is what runs by default on a previously formatted machine). Subject to correction, I think that all that happens is that MFT is re-created. This has the advantage, in the Eraser context, that a free space erase does not need to work round odd (and often hidden) folders that may have been left by accident on the drive. This in turn means that Windows is less likely to stop the Eraser process when the drive is nearly full; interestingly enough, with Eraser 6.0.8 we get more reports of this problem occurring with XP than with Win 7 or Vista. That might of course be because more of the machines or drives people are clearing before they get rid of them run XP rather than the later OSs ...