by John Nouveaux
SuperScrubber from Jiiva is a utility for Mac OS X which does one job and does it well—scrubbing the contents of your computer’s disk drive(s) so the data is irretrievably lost. Why, you ask, would I want to spend $30 for a utility which merely erases the contents of a disk drive? Well SupperScrubber does much more than simply tossing a file into the Trash.
When you drag a file to the Mac OS X Trash and then empty the Trash, the file only appears to have been removed. Mac OS X shuffles a few internal filesystem structures so that you can re-use the space on the disk formerly occupied by your file. But be warned: The actual data has not been removed until the file’s data blocks are actually reused by another file. This reuse may not happen for days, months, possibly never.
SupperScrubber erases your disk drive by performing repeated passes of writing various data patterns until the original data has been overwritten so many times as to be unrecoverable. In fact SuperScrubber has been written to conform to the United States Department of Defense Standard (DoD 5220.22-M) for disk sanitation.
If you need formal certification of the product for use in Federal contracts you will have to wait as Jiiva is in the process of obtaining this certification.
Oh yeah, so why do I care? When you sell, give away, or donate your old Mac, your files (yes, even the deleted ones) may be there for any nefarious cracker to see.
However, if you have scrubbed your disks with SuperScrubber your personal or business information will be unreadable by even the most determined bad guys. SuperScrubber couldn’t be simpler to use. If you are scrubbing a non-System/boot disk, you can copy the SuperScrubber application from the CD to your Application folder, double click on the Super- Scrubber application icon and you’re off.
If you are scrubbing your system’s only or boot disk, you will need to boot the system from the SuperScrubber CD (which as of SuperScrubber version 1.1 contains Mac OS X 10.2.3). If it’s not obvious, scrubbing the System disk will require a complete reload of the operating system.
In either case, in SuperScrubber, select the disk or disk partition to be scrubbed, select the scrubbing level you desire, enter your administrator password and tell SuperScrubber to do its stuff. That’s it.
The interface is simple, well-designed and very easy to use. Using a pop-up menu, you can choose from several pre-installed scrubber configurations ranging from a simple two pass write of zero and one bits all the way up to “Paranoid”—a double pass of the military grade scrubbing. Of course, the more intense the scrubbing the longer you’ll have to wait. Be aware, scrubbing a multi-gigabyte disk at military grade or above can easily take hours. User definable scrubbing configurations can include writing of various bit patterns to each byte of your disk, as many of these patterns as you desire, running each pattern multiple (up to 99!) times and verifying the disk to make sure the patterns were successfully written.
When I scrubbed the 20 gigabyte second partition on my Pismo laptop’s internal disk at the military grade level, the entire process took about one and one half hours. Scrubbing a 100MB Zip disk on an old Beige Box G3 took about seven minutes at military grade.
When SuperScrubber has finished its job, it rebuilds a Macintosh HFS+ filesystem and remounts the just scrubbed disk for immediate re-use.
Nice, although it would be nicer if SuperScrubber had a way to eject the just-scrubbed removable disk eliminating a trip to the Finder. SuperScrubber even works on non-Macintosh disks. As long as you can attach the disk to your Mac and it’s one of SuperScrubbers very inclusive set of supported disk drive types (SCSI, IDE, Firewire, etc.), you’re good to go. Chances are the disk you have, even if it’s a PC disk, can be scrubbed if you can plug it into your Mac. I only noticed a few too-minor-to-report interface glitches in my testing of SuperScrubber. The only thing I would like to see added, in addition to the scrubber progress bar, would be a check mark placed near each of the various scrubber steps as they are completed in turn.
My e-mail query to technical support at Jiiva was returned promptly and my questions were answered thoroughly and professionally. Rest assured, there will be no more Macs leaving my possession without having first been thoroughly scrubbed. SuperScrubber: A big thumbs up!