Software version: 5.2.0
Windows PE is free for licensed users of Windows. To get it, you need to download and install the latest Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) from Microsoft...
You can use the resulting WinPE boot image(s) with almost any PC, including 32-bit and 64-bit PCs with BIOS or UEFI.
Hardwipe Portable Edition is designed to run from USB on 32-bit and 64-bit machines. On its own, however, the Portable Edition is not bootable which means that, although you can run it from USB to sanitize user data and wipe secondary drives, you can't use it to completely wipe the PC's primary drive.
Windows PE, or Pre-installation Environment, however, is a free minimal operation system from Microsoft which can conveniently be used to create a boot image to host the Portable Edition. You can use both the Hardwipe GUI and command line utility under Windows PE, as part of a "boot and nuke" data sanitization solution.
In summary, you will need to:
The following instructions were derived and tested using Windows ADK for Windows 10, version 1607.
Download a copy of the Hardwipe Portable Edition, and unzip the file to your local drive. Start the Portable Edition by double-clicking the StartHardwipe file.
Important. If you plan to create a 64-bit WinPE boot image, use the 64-bit variant of Hardwipe (the 32-bit version cannot be used from WinPE 64).
The Portable Edition is not a free offering, and when it runs it will ask you for a license key (you will require a "Professional Upgrade" level license). The license key is stored locally in the application's folder, so you should input your key now before adding the Portable Edition to the WinPE image. Note that users of the Enterprise variant of the software do not need to perform this step as no license key is required.
The Portable Edition contains the Hardwipe Commander CLI utility which can be used from the console via the "hwipe" command. If you choose to deploy only the Commander CLI, without the GUI, the license key must be entered from the command line. See the lic-key command option for instructions.
Hint. This is a good time to change any settings so that they will be the default values when you start Hardwipe from WinPE.
Download and install the Windows ADK from Microsoft (see above right). The following instructions are provided for your convenience, but always refer to the latest Microsoft WinPE documentation for up to date information.
Start the "Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment" as an administrator which will open a DOS console window. (You will find this under "Windows Kits" from the Start Menu.)
From the DOS console window type:
You can specify either "x86" or "amd64" (you will need "amd64" to boot 64-bit UEFI computers). Here, however, we assume we are creating a 32-bit (x86) boot image.
Before we can "burn to USB", we need to first "mount" the Windows PE image, copy the Portable Edition application into the Windows PE file system, and then "unmount" the image.
From the DOS window, type:
Replace "C:\WinPE_x86" as applicable.
If you see the error:
Type the following and try the step again.
Copy the Hardwipe Portable Edition folder you prepared earlier into to the WinPE mount folder:
When you boot WinPE, this will make Hardwipe available from "X:\hwgui_usb_x86", or whatever the Portable Edition folder is called.
You can optionally add the Hardwipe folder to the WinPE PATH variable as follows. This may be particularly useful if you plan on using the Hardwipe Commander CLI.
Edit the following file using administrator access*:
Append the line:
Replace "X:\hwgui_usb_x86" as applicable.
*The Notepad++ text editor will allow you to elevate to adminstrator during use.
First close any open files and navigate out of the "C:\WinPE_x86" working directory, then type:
Insert a USB drive, and type:
Where "H:" is your USB drive.
Create an ISO file using:
In Windows Explorer, right-click the ISO file, and select Burn disc image > Burn, and follow the prompts.
Portable Edition in the Spanish language running under Windows PE
Insert the USB or DVD, and boot from the media.
Windows PE is a minimal operating system and does not provide a "Start" screen or menu. Rather, when it starts up, you will be presented with a DOS console window.
If you added the Hardwipe folder to the PATH, you can start the GUI at any time with the command:
Alternatively, you can use the Hardwipe command line utility directly from the console:
Use the "/help" option to display the list of options. Command options are described in more detail here.
If you did not modify PATH, you will first need to change directory to:
Or as applicable.