This weekend I had a number of PC repair jobs in which a computer would no longer function and needed to be disposed off. This always raises the question of how to securely clean the hard drive which contains such valuable information to prevent it falling into the wrong hands.
There are many different words for cleaning your hard drive but whatever you call it, the result is that the information is overwritten. What many businesses and individuals fail to realise is that when you delete a file on your computer it is not really deleted, it actually just gets hidden. The information is still there until it gets physically overwritten, which only happens when your hard drive is full and your computer needs to find more space.
Searching the internet turns up lots of software for erasing your hard drive. These programs work by overwriting your deleted files several times with meaningless data to ensure that they are completely erased. Even then, it may still be possible to retrieve the original data, but only by dedicated experts with extremely powerful recovery software.
Another way to make sure the hard drive is wiped is to reformat it and re-install your operating system. This is a technical operation, so you should only try it if you are confident about what you are doing, or you know someone who is.
If you are still worried that the information on your computer may fall into the wrong hands, you can physically remove hard drives from it before recycling. You can take the hard drive out of your computer and either burn it, or drill holes in it so no-one else will be able to use it. However, this is an extreme solution, and it’s a shame to destroy your hard drive when a charity would gladly accept it as a donation.
Anglesey Computer Solutions is an Authorised Microsoft Refurbisher.
We can safely and securely dispose of or recycle your PC.