Everyone knows you need to erase your hard drive when you get rid of an old computer but just how to do it has changed. Technology has progressed a great deal and sophisticated thieves can now extract data from a hard drive that has been “erased” in many cases. Ironically, experts are now suggesting some very low-tech solutions to this high tech problem.
The real key to ensuring that your data is truly destroyed is to physically damage your hard drive so it can’t be plugged into another system. Most traditional hard drives are basically made up of a spinning metal platter or several that are encased in an airtight package. The platters spin at 5000-7000 RPMs and tiny little arms literally float over the surface writing and reading the data. This is then pumped through a small circuit board on the exterior of the drive and then into the computer system via a cable or plug.
Those metal platters, basically very smooth pancakes with a thin magnetic coating, need to be rendered unusable and the best way to do that would be with some common household tools. Once you remove the hard drive from the computer, take the unit to a hard surface and smash it repeatedly with your favorite hammer. Your could also get a drill or a big nail and punch multiple holes in the drive, making sure to hit the platter(s).
On a higher tech side, you can take the drive to a service provider and watch while they run a high powered magnet over it in a process called degaussing. You can also use software to repeatedly write null data (a bunch of zeros) all over the drive, but there is still debate about how many times you need to do this.
Bottom line here is if you’re getting rid of a computer, destroy the hard drive or you may be in for a rude surprise down the road. And since this is a critical job, you might as well have a little fun while you’re at it.
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Image courtesy of www.wipingdata.com.