Data thieves don’t have to be programming wizards to get their hands on your personal information. They often find hard drives that contain financial and other sensitive data at flea markets, charity shops, city dumbs, and even on eBay. Trading computers can contain a lot of financial information that should be protected.
These tips will help you render an old drives files unreadable.
Reformatting a drive and deleting its partition doesn’t truly erase it’s files. Putting files into windows recycle bin makes them unreadable by the operating system, but they’re still viewable to anyone using data recovery. That’s why a dedicated drive erasing tool is a must.
A reliable way to destroy old data is to use a block eraser utility such as DBAN, which overrides each block on your hard drive several times, and can create either a boot-able floppy disc or an ISO file you can burn to a CD. Once you boot from a start up disc just a few key strokes can begin blowing away your data.
The secure erase utility uses the disc drive secure erase command that’s built into every modern hard drives firmware. The wipe is incredibly fast. Secure erase can do the whole job in about half the time that a block eraser could take. Especially if you already have a multi display.
Some government agencies use huge grinders to shred their discarded drives into tiny bits. Some folks chop their old drives with an ax or drive nails through them. You may not have to go through such extremes though, however a few whacks with a sledge hammer can do wonders for your peace of mind and may even reduce a little stress. Make sure you know how to use such tools safely and remember to use safety goggles.
Encrypting files on your hard drive prevents unauthorized access to your information. You can also use encryption to help ensure that the files you delete are not recoverable. If you encrypt a file before you delete it, a file recovery utility may be able to restore the encrypted version of the file, but the utility will not be able to decrypt it, and chances are good that no one else will be able to decrypt either.
Windows XP Pro Has Built-In File Encryption.
To use Windows XP Pros built in encryption, you have to log on to a password protected account. Next right click the files or folders you would like to encrypt, choose properties> advance and check “encrypt contents to secure data” and click OK. You can encrypt any files except system files. So you can select all the folders on the C drive except the Windows folder and encrypt everything inside.
Windows XP creates a unique encryption key automatically if you use this feature. If you wipe your installation of Windows which includes you encryption keys, neither you nor anyone else will be able to decrypt those files. However if you choose to encrypt you files this way you should still run a secure erase tool to be absolutely certain to ensure your privacy.