I want to dispose of an external hard drive, and before I do, I want to ensure its contents is deleted.

I naturally opted for the most secure deletion method, which involves writing over the disk with random data 7 times.

However, I had had no idea how long this would take (it's been running an hour and not finished pass #1 yet!).

So I would like to cancel and delete without the passes.

How can I stop the current deletion/pass process that's currently in progress?

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What I know so far

I can't see any obvious 'cancel' button.

I tried going to the Menu Bar -> Disk Utility -> Quit Disk Utility, but that didn't seem to do anything at all.

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Someone tried force quitting Disk Utility but that caused problems with the hard drive being erased.

I tried force-quitting disk utility. It had the following effects:

  • Disk Utility is now blank (after closing and reopening several times)
  • The yellow external hard drive icon is no longer visible on the desktop
  • I can still feel the device spinning

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  • When I physically removed the external hard disk (e.g. unplugged it), then Disk Utility went back to normal (displaying the laptop's hard disk).

  • I may need to repartition and re format the disk drive (noting that existing data is lost - which is expected since I was deleting it anyway).


For future reference, is there a way to stop the erasure/pass process that won't cause problems with either the laptop's hard drive nor the hard drive being erased? Ideally, I do not want to wait hours/days for it to complete, but I also don't want to cause any unwanted problems. The best I can come up with is to Force Quit Disk Utility, which will likely result in the data on the disk being lost (expected, since it's being deleted), and the disk requiring repartitioning and reformatting (possibly not the end of the world, although I've yet to do this [will update when/if I do])

  • If you were going to reuse the drive, why was there a need to secure erase it? Commented Feb 19 at 4:17
  • @RohitGupta I'm doing some general upkeep on my disk drives (of which there are about 10 from with great variety in age and size etc). My plan is to move everything on to a new (modern/fast/large) SSD (complete), and now securely erase the 10 old hard disks. I haven't decided what I'll do with them yet. Given their age and tiny (if any) resale value, I'll discard them by throwing them into the bin. But I think it's wise to wipe them first.
    – stevec
    Commented Feb 19 at 4:58
  • 2
    Introducing the old drives to a large sledgehammer several times usually renders the data irretrievable.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Feb 19 at 7:51
  • If you want them erased and are discarding them, then Force-quit won't cause any harm. Please make sure you send them to be recycled, rather than landfill.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Feb 19 at 10:19
  • 2
    Put a drill bit through them, and you're done. Commented Feb 19 at 13:52


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