When you buy a new computer, laptop, tablet or phone, you are probably careful to remove all personal or confidential information from the old one before you sell it, donate it to a charity or (if it’s broken and not worth repairing) dispose of it.  But just because the relevant files have been deleted and the recycle bin has been emptied doesn’t mean they cannot be retrieved.  For anyone who knows how it can be found relatively easily and quickly. So how can you be sure your data remains safe, permanently?

Wiping Your Drive

A more secure way of preventing anyone from retrieving your data is to wipe the drive, and this is something that any computer maintenance and repair shop should be able to do for you.  You can even Google ‘how to wipe my drive’ and get instructions on how to do it yourself.

The hard drive should always be wiped if you sell, trade-in, donate or dispose of your computer, but don’t forget to wipe it if you are replacing a faulty drive or upgrading to a new one.  A sluggish computer can sometimes get a new lease of life after a hard drive transplant, as this will remove bloatware – preinstalled but often useless software – that uses data storage space, decreases battery life, and impairs performance. Again, make sure the old drive is wiped.

Wiping Isn’t 100% Secure

It’s important to know that while wiping may make it hard to recover data, it isn’t impossible.  This is good news for anyone who has ever accidentally wiped their drive, but it also means that anyone with the right skills and software may still be able to find your data.

This is because while wiping the hard drive deletes data, it doesn’t erase it.  This is because the process of erasing is time-consuming, taking several minutes to erase each file, one at a time, rather than the seconds it takes to delete them.

Every document and file on your computer is made up of bytes.  Wiping the drive will remove the location of those bytes, but the bytes themselves are still on the drive and will still contain your data.  Only when the bytes are overwritten will the old data be irrecoverable.

For this reason, if you do accidentally wipe your drive, stop using the computer immediately and contact a company offering hard drive recovery services.

But let’s assume you have deliberately wiped your drive before passing your computer on to a new owner or disposing of it. Unless and until all the data has been overwritten, there’s still a chance that it can be recovered.

100% Secure Destruction

The only fully secure way of preventing your data from being recovered is to remove the hard drive and send it to an accredited secure destruction service provider such as Avena.

As a company that is fully compliant with the BS EN 15713:2009 Code of Practice covering the secure destruction of confidential data, we offer secure and environmentally responsible destruction of data storage components.  If you are disposing of the computer completely we can also ensure this is done in accordance with WEEE regulations, with all hazardous substances and recyclable materials handled appropriately.

We can also securely dispose of other data storage devices such as disks, flash drives and external hard drives.

If you would like to know more about our fully audited and secure IT & media destruction services, give us a call today on 0845 5219 892.