Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Deleting Personal Data from Hard Drives

Most of us store and create new personal data on a daily basis. Be it an on-line purchase, the addition of a new digital photo album, a Facebook post or a bank transfer - we're constantly writing information to hard disk drives, and we're doing it a lot more than you might think.

Data, as we know, is stored on a variety of storage devices, and most of what we store is personal, private and can include passwords which enable us to access many secure websites. The thought of this information getting into the hands of others could be catastrophic. Many people assume that if they manually erase this information, then it is wiped from the storage device forever. This is untrue.

The recycling of hard drives is good for the environment and many companies do this, innocent to the fact that when they format a drive (the act of supposedly wiping all the data from it), most, if not all of the data is still present, and can be accessed using 'off the shelf' data recovery software.

This was proven recently when an on-line security firm managed to retrieve a number of sensitive documents and personal information from a 'pre-formatted, ready to use' hard drive which was purchased from eBay.

Therefore it is important to understand that standard deletion / formatting will not permanently remove your important files and information. In actual fact, there are only really two methods of doing this, the destructive and the non-destructive way.

Firstly, you could physically destroy your hard drive by taking a hammer to it, setting it on fire, hiring a JCB and driving over it etc but this would clearly make it unusable and would also be a little over dramatic.

The other option would be to use some free software which would overwrite, overwrite and then overwrite again with a string of useless data, in order to completely remove any previous information being held on the drive.

In conclusion, I hope this article has been informative and helped people understand the concepts of deleting information, so as to hopefully protect their own private data from getting into the wrong hands. Please feel free to browse this Blog as there are many other useful articles on here to.

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