The hard drive or solid state drive of your computer holds a lot of sensitive information. This includes your account passwords, personal details, financial records and personal files and photos that no one but you should see.
When you want to sell or dispose of your old computer, you need to wipe out all the sensitive data. This will protect you from identity theft.
Simply deleting files and folders and emptying your recycle bin or formatting your computer does not wipe out all the data, however. You may no longer be able to access the deleted data, but an experienced hacker or someone with sophisticated data recovery software will.
How does hard disk wiping work?
Formatting and deleting data do not permanently clean a hard drive; you need to completely clean a hard drive with disk-wiping technology. This involves either installing wiping software or using wiping hardware such as REDKEY USB to overwrite binary data. This then ensures that your data cannot be recovered.
Why not encryption and physical damage?
Encryption and physical drive damage are also options if you need to wipe out data. Users can simply encrypt a hard drive and then dispose of the encryption keys, but this takes longer than simply wiping the data.
Physical damage, on the other hand, works as long as you no longer need the drive.
Before wiping the drive:
- As hard drive wiping software and hardware permanently clean your drive, you'll need to back up data that you still require from the drive before you installing wiping software.
- Ensure that the battery is fully charged before you start erasing. If the battery power goes out before the drive is completely wiped, it might render the drive useless afterwards.
- Save the serial numbers for the software that is installed on your computer. All premium software from your computer will be lost after the wipe. If you still need to use them on your new device, you will need their serial numbers.
Common software and hardware to consider
Some common software wiping software options include Eraser, DBAN and Roadkil Disk Wipe. RedKey USB is a common wiping hardware. Some of these tools are automatic; they start erasing immediately after they are installed or plugged in, so make sure your data is well backed up before you use them.