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In terms of data security, keeping private data safe doesn't end when it's being used; it also includes when it's being thrown away. Protecting against breaches and unauthorized access ensures that data is safely erased from storage devices when it's no longer needed.

The DoD 5220.22-M standard is a well-known guideline for erasing data. It spells out specific steps for wiping out secret data from storage media. This guide will detail the DoD 5220.22-M data erasure standards and show you how to delete data according to these rules.

DoD 5220.22-M Standards

What Is the DoD 5220.22-M Standard?

The U.S. Department of Defense made rules for safely erasing classified information from storage media. They are called the DoD Standard, whose exact name is DoD 5220.22-M. This standard, which was first released in 1995 and then updated, spells out specific steps that must be taken to make sure that data is completely erased before it is thrown away or used again.

Key parts of the DoD 5220.22-M standard include overwriting storage media multiple times with random patterns, checking procedures to ensure erasure works, and writing down the procedures needed. Organizations that deal with private data must follow the DoD 5220.22-M standard. It lowers the risk of data breaches or unauthorized access during disposal.

Why Use DoD 5220.22-M Standards?

The DoD data wipe technique is one of the most well-known ways to delete data, and in the U.S., it is still seen as one of the industry standards for erasing hard drives. If you have a lot of storage files or a hard drive with a lot of space, the DoD 5220.22-M method will delete data faster than other methods that delete more data, like the Gutmann standard, which requires 30 passes.

In addition, the DoD 5220.22 M data wipe standard checks each pass at the end to ensure that the data is properly erased. In addition to zeroes and ones, DoD 5220.22 M writes random characters over the hard drive's storage areas. Adding random characters lowers the chance of getting the information back.

DoD 5220.22-M Standards

Important Features of the DoD 5220.22-M standard

  • Multiple Overwrites
    One unique aspect of the DoD standard is that the storage disk must be overwritten more than once. In particular, it requires three separate writes that cover the whole storage area with certain bit patterns.
  • Random Pattern Overwrites
    Each pass overwrites the data with a pattern already set up. This pattern usually includes both zeros and ones. Each pass uses a different pattern, making it hard for data recovery tools to return to the original data.
  • Steps for Verification
    The standard calls for proof steps to be taken after the overwriting process to make sure that the data has been erased correctly. Usually, this means ensuring that normal data recovery methods can't get back the overwritten data.

How to Wipe Data with DoD 5220.22-M Ersure Standard?

Implementing the DoD 5220.22-M data sanitization method, commonly known as the DoD Short Wipe or DoD 3-pass method, involves a systematic approach:

  • Pass 1: All addressable locations on the storage media are overwritten with binary zeroes.
  • Pass 2: All addressable places are filled with binary ones, which adds to the last step.
  • Pass 3: Finally, a random bit pattern is written to all addressable locations on the storage media.
  • Verification: After the third pass, the final overwrite is verified to ensure successful erasure.

Employing the DoD 5220.22-M method for data sanitization on a hard disk drive (HDD) effectively prevents both software-based and hardware-based recovery methods from extracting meaningful data. This thorough approach adheres to the original requirements of the DoD standard, ensuring comprehensive data security and irretrievable sanitization.

DoD Long Wipe

A 2001 DoD memo led to the creation of the DoD Long Wipe in 2002. It is an expanded form of the DoD 5220.22-M data sanitization method, also called the DoD 5220.22-M ECE method, which has a full seven-pass overwrite process.

For the DoD Long Wipe, the DoD 5220.22-M process is run twice, with an extra pass called the DoD 5220.22-M (C) Standard added in between the two. This improved method ensures that data is safer by scrambling and overwriting private data on storage media even more.

With its extra passes and verification methods, the DoD Long Wipe is an even better way to keep data from being recovered, protect secret information, and make data cleaning efforts more effective overall.

Steps to Wipe Data Using DoD 5220.22-M Standard

DoYourData Super Eraser is a powerful data erasure program that offers certified data erasure standards including DoD 5220.22-M. If you want to erase your data permanently with DoD 5220.22-M data erasure standard, just download and install this program on your computer. It can help you permanently erase data from PC, Mac, HDD, SSD, USB flash drive, digital camera, SD card, RAID, Server, etc.

You can choose DoD 5220.22-M as the data erasure standards, then you can permanently erase files/folders, wipe hard drive, erase free disk space, etc.

DoD 5220.22-M Standards

For example, you can wipe an entire storage device to permanently erase all data from the device.

Step 1. Open DoYourData Super Eraser, choose Wipe Hard Drive mode. Then select the storage device and click on Wipe Now button.

how to permanently erase data using DoD 5220.22-M

Step 2. Permanently erase all data (existing data, deleted/lost data, hidden data included) from the device, no trace left.

how to permanently erase data using DoD 5220.22-M

Please note that once the process gets finished, all data stored on the device is gone for good, can’t be recovered by any method.


In conclusion, companies must follow the DoD 5220.22-M standard to protect sensitive information while it is being thrown away. This standard systematically deletes data, focusing on many overwrites with random patterns and proof steps to ensure the data is completely erased.

The DoD Long Wipe, an expanded version of this standard, adds more passes and verification ways to make data even safer. By following these tips, businesses can lower the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access. It will effectively safeguard sensitive data and support data privacy standards.

DoYourData Super Eraser

DoYourData Super Eraser

DoYourData Super Eraser, the award-winning data erasure software, offers certified data erasure standards including U.S. Army AR380-19, DoD 5220.22-M ECE to help you securely and permanently erase data from PC, Mac, HDD, SSD, USB drive, memory card or other device, make data be lost forever, unrecoverable!

DoYourData Author

Written & Updated by Shirly Chen

Shirly Chen has been writing data recovery, data erasure articles for DoYourData over 4 years. She has been working as a professional website content writer & editor for quite a long time. She also writes articles about disk clone, Mac optimization, disk backup, etc.

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