Some used hard disks contain errors that standard formatting tools or OS installers have difficulty coping with. One method that has worked for me is the following combination of the DOS program fdisk plus the third party program slate. …
First, please take note: slate is shareware, not open source. It may be used without cost for personal use but the author charges for business use and has not released the source code. See slate's documentation for further licensing details.
FIXME: I am actively seeking a similar program available under the GPL or other open source license. If you know of one, please comment below.
Before beginning, obtain a DOS boot disk. Download slate and add it to the boot disk. Write protect the disk.
FIXME: Floppy disks are unreliable, and floppy drives are no longer ubiquitous on new computers. Document how to create a DOS boot CD with slate on it. If you know how, please comment below.
Boot the target box from the DOS boot disk. You will get a DOS prompt. Give the following commands:
fdisk /mbr slate 1/x
Your hard disk is clean. Reboot.