I'm trying to format my usb pendrive with one of those low level options like Gutmann, DoD or filling with zeros to wipe all data.

I used Active DVD tools on Windows XP SP3 for years, but I always had the problem that happened after formating my pendrives they were not recognized by the OS and asked me to format again using Windows tool, which I did for FAT32 and hopefully they could be used again.

However a while ago I tried to do the same for an old pendrive on Windows 7 but the software freezed and rendered the drive unusable. Needless to mention that such drive was working just fine, but it seemed the software did satured the chip or overused during the process as it felt hot on contact after the attempt.

After such experience I'm looking for other options which could be safer, cover all the basics and be less consuming of resources i.e RAM, CPU and so on. Therefore, is there any recommendation on an utility which can do low level format and then format exFat, FAT32 or NTFS and creating a partition preferably open source or any at a reasonable cost and good reputation?

On my own I did a quick search and it gave me Eraser (which I'm not sure if it is a format utility) and Rufus which some user has complained about making unusable some of his pendrives. But since I have no experience with these can somebody recommend other tools? If possible one which do offers some graphic user interfase or an easy to use or to understand command line.

The program I'm looking for must be compatible with x86 technology and 32-bit as this is the one I'm using.

As long it works on 32-bit Windows from 7 to onwards is fine. It does not matter if its free. Although open source or free could be preferred. Regarding budget the cost should be reasonable, maybe over 200 usd is too much.


2 Answers 2


Ok, let me start by trying to clarify something. Windows talks about formatting, but is actually mixing several things.

On floppies and old hard drives, formatting was needed to establish a format on the media. Did you format a floppy as 720kB or 1440kB? It often also used to test for bad blocks, which could then be recorded (in the file system) in order to avoid storing data on them. These days all common media (sd cards, usb flash, ssd, hdd) have reserved sectors for replacing bad blocks, so the operating system or software doesn't need to know about bad blocks.

Then there's creating a file system. mkfs in unix. But windows combines all of these and calls it formatting.

Gutmann and DoD methods should more accurately be called wiping or securely erasing. The reason why you had to format as FAT (i.e. create a FAT-filesystem) is because wiping doesn't create a file system. That's completely natural. They scramble the storage media on a lower level, removing the file system structure.

So I suggest you use some software to wipe and something else to partition and create file systems. Formatting in the strictest sense in no longer required.

For wiping you could use SATA Secure Erase or something that writes zeros, DoD or Gutmann patterns. I've used Darik's Boot And Nuke, or DBAN.

For partitioning and file system creating, you can use Windows Disk Management or Parted Magic. In Windows it can be found Win+X -> Disk Management.

Ultimate Boot CD contains DBAN, Parted Magic and many more similar utilities.

  • Alright I understood about the FAT you mentioned, but my problem arises after wiping data it just happened that the resulting drive was unrecognizable by any Partition software so I suspect that there is some risk of damaging the device when wiping the information on low level, if that is the case does that mean the device is damaged and unrecoverable? Apr 7, 2018 at 14:45
  • The old pendrive might have just died. Or some cheap and bad ones can't handle anything other than FAT on the drive. So maybe the firmware crashed because of the wipe?
    – ptman
    Apr 7, 2018 at 19:47
  • It could be that but I did wiped all data before in other computer using the same system and I could make a partition using windows own format tool. But when I tried to do the same in Windows 7 it didn't worked. But I noticed that the pendrive got very hot during the process of wiping. Thus I ask about if there is some risk when wiping information. DBAN clearly mentions that it discloses any responsibility from damaging devices and that there is no possibility that this can happen. But I'd rather not to be toying around with this until I'm certain I wont damage a brand new device. Apr 8, 2018 at 15:05
  • anyway it is not recommended to "secure erase" flash based media (like usual usb-pendrives): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_erasure#Limitations -- bottom line: the data may still be recoverable and you'll only shorten the life of your pendrive. Apr 10, 2018 at 20:02
  • 1
    Yes, Secure Erase would be better, but USB flash devices usually don't support it. The best solution to securely wiping sensitive data is to always store it encrypted and then destroy the encryption key when you want to wipe.
    – ptman
    Apr 10, 2018 at 20:04

ImDisk Tool kit


This tool will let you mount image files of hard drive, cd-rom or floppy, and create one or several ramdisks with various parameters.

This all-in-one package includes the ImDisk Virtual Disk Driver (2.0.9), the DiscUtils library that extends the number of supported image file formats, and adds several GUIs and features.

64-bit: https://sourceforge.net/projects/imdisk-toolkit/files/20170706/ImDiskTk-x64.exe

32-bit: https://sourceforge.net/projects/imdisk-toolkit/files/20170706/ImDiskTk.exe


  • Ramdisk with optional dynamic memory management
  • Image file mounting, many formats supported
  • Wait a sec. Does this software you mention allows create partition and wiping data from a drive with security options and all that?. It must be compatible with Windows 7 as well I'm using this. Apr 10, 2018 at 19:21

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