How to scrub the data from your hard drive before you sell or recycle your computer

Even if you delete files from your computer and empty the Recycle Bin, your files are still on your computer.  They are hidden, but they can still be retrieved. Formatting the disk still will NOT completely erase all of your information.

Obviously, this is very dangerous if someone is able to retrieve this information from your computer.  So what can you do if you want to sell your computer or send it in for recycling?

Scrubbing your data

You have to scrub your hard drive before your computer leaves your possession.  This is a process where a program goes through your hard drive and overwrites each and every memory block on your hard drive.

To be extra safe, you can have the program overwrite the disk several times.  There are free utilities out there that will scrub your disk to Department of Defense standards.

The only true way to make sure that all of your data is gone is to physically destroy the disk.  However, scrubbing your disk to DoD standards is more than enough for home and business purposes.

How to scrub your hard drive

There is a great free product called Darik’s Boot and Nuke.

You download the program and burn it to a CD.  Then you stick it in the computer you want to wipe and restart the computer.  The program should start automatically and bring you to a menu system.

WARNING: Once you go through with the wipe, there will be absolutely nothing left on your hard drive.  You will not be able to access your operating system, it will have to be reinstalled.  Be absolutely sure that you want to scrub your disk and have your operating system disks available so you can use the computer after the wipe.

Be sure all devices like printers, scanners, and external drives are unplugged before running the program.  Only have a mouse and keyboard plugged into your computer.

Select the drive to wipe and the type of wipe you want to do.  To be sure you have erased all your data, we would recommend doing the DoD standard wipe.

This will take several hours, so go do something else while the program is running.  After it is done, it will give you a confirmation message.

If this process scares you, bring your computer to our office and we will be happy do to the hard drive scrub for you.

Recycling your computer

If your computer is too old and you want to recycle it, check out the EPA website for ways to properly dispose of your computer.

Also look for local organizations that will recycle your computers for you.  From time to time we offer a recycling service for unwanted computers to our clients. Follow us on Twitter to find out the next time we offer this service.

Questions

If you have questions about anything above, feel free to give is a call at 808-535-9700.

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