What a treasure trove of information one can find simply by perusing old hard drives – people’s personal pictures, credit card information, bank accounts, health records, and numerous other personal pieces that one would prefer not be put out and about for the world to see. Many folks simply hand those drives off to computer shops, friends, family, or computer enthusiasts without any thought. The big problem is that they don’t wipe away their own personal data before giving them away.
Even though you deleted those excel files, word documents, and pictures from the drive, they aren’t really gone. I know you are probably gasping at the thought right now, but it is true. There are free programs available on the internet that recover data, and in some cases, you can pay forensic experts several thousand dollars to retrieve lost files from hard drives. So if someone really wants some information about your old drives, they may be able to get it… unless you protect yourself by wiping it correctly.
There are a number of great programs readily available on the internet that allow you to wipe your drive clean. After some research, here are the ones that seem to work the best:
- DBAN is probably the simplest one to use and allows you to wipe the drive without being in Windows. You simply create a cd from an iso file, boot up, and wipe the drives using one of the methods available. DoD 5220.22-M is considered the best.
- Roadkil’s Disk Wipe is another great program that also allows you to wipe USB disks as well.
- Active KillDisk 8.0 wipes SATA, USB and floppies, passing zeros to locations available on the disk and it conforms to DoD 5220.22-M.
However, no one truly knows if these software applications truly work to wipe the data completely clean. Typically, there are really only 2 ways to ways to permanently destroy any data left on them. The first is to run the drives through a very powerful electromagnet, that will destroy the contents of the disk. The second and most permanent way, is to destroy the disk platters. The simplest of course is a large industrial shredder, but if you don’t have one of sitting in your garage, you’ll need to utilize tools available to you – a sledgehammer, a large nail, thick gloves, and safety glasses. You’ll need to hammer the nail through the drive about 3 times to destroy the platters The utilization of a drill press if you have one readily available is also an option. Destroying the platters should be your main concern. Once you are able to open the drive casing, this should be your focus.
If you know of any other solutions, feel free to comment below.