wipefs — wipe a signature from a device


wipefs [−ahnpqtV] [ −o offset ] device...


wipefs can erase filesystem, raid or partition-table signatures (magic strings) from the specified device to make the signatures invisible for libblkid.

wipefs does not erase the filesystem itself nor any other data from the device. When used without options −a or −o, it lists all visible filesystems and the offsets of their basic signatures.

Note that some filesystems or some partition tables store more magic strings on the devices. The wipefs command lists only the first offset where a magic string has been detected. The device is not scanned for additional magic strings for the same filesystem. It is possible that after wipefs -o offset the same filesystem or partition table will still be visible by another magic string on another offset.

When used with option −a, all magic strings that are visible for libblkid are erased.


−a, −−all

Erase all available signatures. The set of erased signatures can be restricted with the −t list option.

−b, −−backup

Create a signature backup to the file $HOME/wipefs-<devname>-<offset>.bak. For more details see EXAMPLES section.

−f, −−force

Force erasure, even if the filesystem is mounted. This is required in order to erase the partition table on a block device.

−h, −−help

Display help text and exit.

−n, −−no−act

Causes everything to be done except for the write() call.

−o, −−offset offset

Specify the location (in bytes) of the signature which should be erased from the device. The offset number may include a "0x" prefix; then the number will be interpreted as a hex value. It is possible to specify multiple −o options.

The offset argument may be followed by the multiplicative suffixes KiB (=1024), MiB (=1024*1024), and so on for GiB, TiB, PiB, EiB, ZiB and YiB (the "iB" is optional, e.g. "K" has the same meaning as "KiB"), or the suffixes KB (=1000), MB (=1000*1000), and so on for GB, TB, PB, EB, ZB and YB.

−p, −−parsable

Print out in parsable instead of printable format. Encode all potentially unsafe characters of a string to the corresponding hex value prefixed by '\x'.

−q, −−quiet

Suppress output messages after successful signature wipe.

−t, −−types list

Limit the set of printed or erased signatures. More than one type may be specified in a comma-separated list. The list or individual types can be prefixed with 'no' to specify the types on which no action should be taken. For more details see mount(8).

−V, −−version

Display version information and exit.


wipefs --all --backup /dev/sdb

Erases all signatures from the device /dev/sdb and creates a signature backup file ~/wipefs-sdb-<offset>.bak for each signature.

dd if=~/wipefs-sdb-0x00000438.bak of=/dev/sdb seek=$((0x00000438)) bs=1 conv=notrunc()

Restores ext2 signature from the backup file ~/wipefs-sdb-0x00000438.bak.


Karel Zak <>


Setting LIBBLKID_DEBUG=0xffff enables debug output.


blkid(8), findfs(8)


The wipefs command is part of the util-linux package and is available from

  Copyright 2009 by Karel Zak.  All Rights Reserved.
This file may be copied under the terms of the GNU Public License.