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Erasing disks on a MicroVAX 3300 and 3400.

daver2

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Does anyone know how to erase the disks of a MicroVAX 3300 and 3400 from the >>> prompt?

I am required to erase the disks prior to giving the machines away. I have been able to do everything so far except these two machines.

The 3300 is equipped with a single RA82 whilst the 3400 is equipped with two off RF30 DSSI disks drives.

I am still looking for the relevant documentation... I found out about "test 9E" to list the available options - but I can't see an obvious "disk erase" option (unless it is hiding in a utility menu that I haven't found out how to access yet).

Cheers,

Dave
 

PG31

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Hi Dave,

A little rusty but you have to select the DSSI device from the command prompt for example and may not be exact syntax, it may also be different for different VAX models but at least it is a start.

>>> SHOW DEVICE

Then select DSSI controller, its number 5 for example from show device output, command below may be different if you have multiple DSSI buses as you will need to select the DSSI bus,

>>> SET HOST/DUP/DSSI 5 UTILIT

Type HELP at the UTILIT prompt and I think format is one of the options also SELECT should be an option and you need to select the device also. I think the DSSI devices begin with DIA as opposed to SCSI is DUA


UTILIT> HELP
UTILIT> SHOW /ALL
UTILIT> SELECT DIAxxxx
UTILIT> FORMAT


I've looked at you listing in marketplace and there is certainly some cool stuff, I do have one question, are you sure the disk in one of the MicroVAX's is an RA82? The RA82 is about the size of an RL02 with 14" platters. It is always possible though if it is an external disk connected to the MicroVAX :)
 
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gslick

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There may be a similar thing for the RA82?

I don't remember using any drive resident utilities on an SDI drive as there are on a DSSI drive.

If you had the M7164 / M7165 KDA50 SDI controller installed in a PDP-11 system you could run the XXDP diagnostic ZUDK to format the SDI drive.

Without setting up a system to run the MicroVAX Diagnostic Monitor diagnostics I'm not sure if those diagnostics include support for formatting SDI drives.
 

Wildfire

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Hello Dave,

the RA drive types have built in diagnostics which you can access via a special DEC service terminal - or with a standard serial terminal via DB25 300 baud connection.

I remember we did this here at our computer club years ago.
There is a read/write test which you can start - resulting in complete data loss of the drive through overwriting.

If i remember it correctly you can leave the drive connected to the host system, it should disconnect automatically by connecting the serial terminal and running diags.
On an RA81 the DB25 is accessible when you remove the metal cover from the electronics department of the drive so you can access the electronic boards.
It should be similar with the RA82, eventually the connector was accessible when you remove the frontplate from the air filter and it is sitting behind it so you can connect without opening the drive - but idk for sure.

Useful information you can find here - should be mainly identical for the 82:

I would love to get my hands on the drives or the complete system, but i do not know what this means for actions / trouble with customs after brex..


Best regards from germany.
Kai
 

daver2

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Hi Kai,

Many thanks for that very useful information.

You could always investigate how we could get the system to you if you really wanted it. At least asking the questions doesn’t cost any money!

I need some stuff shipping from Germany, so perhaps we may be able to help each other out in the shipping department? Although my package would be significantly lighter than yours!

Cheers,

Dave
 

SteveG

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Dave,

If you are clearing the disk in order to remove any sensitive data why not boot the system and execute:-

delete [*]*.*;*

I know that some companies procedures include putting hard disks through a metal shredder or hitting them with a sledge hammer.

PS. Please do not do this to your RA82.
 

DDS

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Dave,

If you are clearing the disk in order to remove any sensitive data why not boot the system and execute:-

delete [*]*.*;*

I know that some companies procedures include putting hard disks through a metal shredder or hitting them with a sledge hammer.

PS. Please do not do this to your RA82.
I'm not that familiar with VAX software, but in most systems I am familiar with, the delete command deletes nothing, rather it marks the disk blocks as available for reuse and does something to the directory entry to make it for the most part invisible. Utilities abound that can recover most if not all of the information in a "deleted" file. However, there are usually utilities available that more or less securely erase the actual information stored in those blocks, usually by overwriting them repeatedly with some random bits. I'd be willing to bet that's what Daver2 is looking for.

It is usually not a good idea to just "delete" the files on a drive you're going to turn over to someone else. Don't be that guy.
 

SteveG

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I agree but I suspect it would be safer to do that than to release the disk as is. Another alternative is to run a destructive disk diagnostic routine that checks before you run it and that warns you any data will be erased. The point I was trying to make is that a disk format is not the only way to erase the data.

To totally erase the disk you would need to write directly to the RAW disk block address rather than issuing write statements via the file I/O system. I worked on a system which needed for performance reasons to use DMA directly to disk blocks and sectors. Also I understand that things like ORACLE databases work like that.
 
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daver2

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Correct, delete doesn’t delete the data bits themselves...

There is a low-level format diagnostic built into the CPU firmware to write to all the blocks of the disk. This generally erases everything except analysis by forensic examination. There is nothing sensitive on these disks (as far as work is concerned) - but there may be old correspondence and other things of a personal nature that we may not want out there.

Yes, our SNI disks (and we have some on an Apollo Workstation) have to be shredded...

That machine is, therefore, not going to have a hard disk in it when it goes!

Kai has identified that the RA82 has disk-resident software to erase the disk securely.

Dave
 

DDS

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I agree but I suspect it would be safer to do that than to release the disk as is. Another alternative is to run a destructive disk diagnostic routine that checks before you run it and that warns you any data will be erased. The point I was trying to make is that a disk format is not the only way to erase the data.

To totally erase the disk you would need to write directly to the RAW disk block address rather than issuing write statements via the file I/O system. I worked on a system which needed for performance reasons to use DMA directly to disk blocks and sectors. Also I understand that things like ORACLE databases work like that.
Something along the lines of dd if=dev/random of=/dev/<whatever>
 

cruff

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It is my opinion that there are very few cases where someone would actually bother to perform a forensic analysis of a magnetic medium to recover overwritten material. In a majority of cases it probably suffices to format the disk or write a data pattern over it without fussing overly about it. If one is concerned about a recovery attempt anyway, then shredding or destruction by dissolving in acid is probably the way to go.
 

daver2

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Some industries (mine included) this sort of ‘thing’ is mandatory - depending upon the information categorisation...

Dave
 

DDS

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While searching for a used laptop on ebay, I noticed about half of them on offer from obvious "lease turnback" refurbishers said that there was no HDD/SSD included or that the one included had been wiped and/or had a fresh copy of the OS installed. So whether or not the practice is warranted is kind of a moot point: It happens and frequently.

Many corporations require that the disk on any machine leaving the company's possession be destroyed or wiped to DoD standards. Destruction is relatively quick compared to a secure wipe which can take hours if not days. Guess which the corporate IT and Legal "suits" pick.

Any HDD being retired from one of my machines gets a secure wipe before making the trip to Good Will.

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." -- Woody Allen

"Best defense against punch, don't be there." -- Mr. Miyagi
 

cruff

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Some industries (mine included) this sort of ‘thing’ is mandatory - depending upon the information categorisation..
I realize that, but that doesn't mean the people mandating the action have any proof to back their decisions to use the multiple passes wiping method will actually be more effective than a simple single pass write random data on the platters method.
 

g4ugm

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I understand that the suggestion that multiple overwrites were necessary have since been removed. So:-


says

NIST 800-88: The Current U.S. Government Standard States 1 Pass is Sufficient
 
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