| Julia Naue |
Dusseldorf (dpa) – Whether you’re selling it to someone else or just getting rid of it, old hard drives need to be thoroughly wiped of data before you pass them on.
Reformatting is not sufficient.
Simply removing the data manually is an even worse option, since doing so doesn’t remove it at all from the drive.
Your reason to be careful is simple. The standard hard drive will carry an array of personal data, from passwords to pictures to old work reviews.
To make sure it’s safe to ditch, make sure you use special applications for scrubbing drives.
“Formatting alone is not enough,” says Philip Heldt of the Consumer’s Central of the German state of North Rhine Westphalia.
The reason is that formatting doesn’t go far enough in overwriting data, meaning it can be restored with enough effort.
“Just a little data can reveal a lot about a person, which is why it shouldn’t fall into the wrong hands,” warns Heldt.
A lot of programs that will fully delete a drive are available online as freeware, or even, at times, as part of the operating system.
Apple computers, for example, include a function in their disk utility program that will thoroughly scrub a drive by overwriting the data several times, leaving it impossible to retrieve.
Bear in mind, depending on how much data is to be removed, this can take several hours.
If you’re just trashing the hard drive, you can opt to simply destroy it physically.
“But it’s not enough to just give it a good whack with a hammer,” says Heldt.
Instead, use a drill to put a hole into the hard drive.
Even after that, experts might still be able to restore data, “but only a very few private individuals store data that sensitive on their hard drives”.
Take similar measures with a smartphone.
“Just pushing the reset button is not enough,” says Heldt.
Again, there are multiple deletion options available online because, once again, it’s incumbent to wipe a drive before selling or passing on a phone you’ve used.
Remember – whether it’s appointments, photos or contacts – what’s on your smartphone can say a lot about you.