So you’re about to replace your PC or laptop. You’ve transferred all your files and folders and are ready to sell it, donate it, give it to someone or throw it out. Before you do that, STOP!
Simply deleting files from your hard drive doesn’t make them go away. All it does is remove the “pointer” to the files so that the operating system (OS) thinks that it’s OK to write new data to that space. In other words, the data is still there until something else overwrites it, and even then, a good “undelete” program can recover it.
OK, so how about formatting the drive? Will that take care of it? Nope. A good undelete program can still recover the data.
A recent study by Blancco Technology Group and Kroll Ontrack showed that 48% of the used hard drives being sold on Amazon still had enough residual data on them to reveal information on the previous owner.
So what should you do? There’s a number of options. PCMDX sponsors an organization called Learning To Be the Light (2BTL). 2BTL refurbishes PCs and gives them to low-income students in the Hoover City Schools. Any student who is on free or reduced lunch, 2BTL will give them a PC, a monitor, keyboard, mouse and anything else they may need. If they are a junior or senior in high school, they are also given a laptop in addition to the PC.
When someone gives their PC to 2BTL to be refurbished, 2BTL will ask if they want the old hard drive. If they do, then the old HD is removed and given to the person giving the PC. This is by far the safest method because all of the data is on the HD and the HD doesn’t take up much space. So if you’re giving away or selling your old PC, try to remove the HD first. A replacement drive usually will cost under $100.
What’s the downside of doing this? Usually restoration software is on the HD, which means the recipient will have to order the restore software or re-install the OS, then re-install the drivers. This can be complicated and expensive.
If the person giving the PC to 2BTL doesn’t want the old HD, then 2BTL will use a software program called Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN). DBAN is a free program that will not erase the HD, but write data over the existing data 8 times, usually in the form of 0s and 1s. After 8 times, the original data is not retrievable, even by the best forensic experts. This will work on most non-SSD, non-RAID HDs.
The downside of this process is that it’s very time consuming, sometimes taking over 24 hours per drive. The recipient of the HD, if they plan on using it again in the same PC, will have to order restore software or install the OS, then drivers.
Either method is inconvenient, however, having your personal information compromised is more inconvenient.
If you need to sell or otherwise get rid of your PC or laptop, but don’t want to give it to Learning To Be the Light, PCMDX can take care of securing your HD before you hand your PC or laptop to the new owner. Contact us today for a free estimate at 205-201-0389 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .