Jeremy Herold

How to Securely Erase Old Computer Hard Drives

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Basic wipes can’t guarantee a full removal of data – here’s what can.

 

With how quickly technology becomes obsolete, it’s common to have older computers stored around the house that are no longer being used. When disposing or selling those old electronics, it’s important to completely remove all of your personal information.

The market is flooded with software that advertises hard drive wiping capabilities, but which one do you choose?

To be perfectly upfront, if you don’t want to remove the hard drive completely or destroy it, the only way to truly sanitize the hard drive of your data is to use the DoD 5220.22-M data sanitization method. That will prevent all software-based file recovery methods from being able to obtain information from the drive and should also prevent a majority of hardware-based recovery methods from succeeding. As long as the company specifies that their software uses that method, it should provide the wipe you need.

There are exceptions to that rule. Most free software stating that it’s DoD 5220.22-M only does one write of the hard drive. DoD 5220.22-M works by writing zeros, then ones to your hard drive, then random ones and zeros for the final write. While there can be variations on what order of write is done, and which characters are written, the multi write is necessary. If the software only does one write, it’s a waste of your time.

There is one well known free program called Darik’s Boot and Nuke that has shown to wipe drives well, but as with all hard drive wiping programs, it is necessary to have the program run from CD or flash drive. If you’re uncomfortable downloading a program from the internet, copying it to an external storage device and then booting your computer from that device, it may be best to have a trusted professional do it for you.

If you’re just selling or disposing of your old computer, the easiest way to keep your hard drive data out of someone else’s hands would be to just remove the hard drive from the unit. That way, you keep the hard drive, and the rest of the computer parts are ready to be reused, repurposed, or recycled.

As always, if we can be of help with your network or computer, give us a call here at Rhyno Networks. (855) 749-6648

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