You’ve heard the rumors, data can actually be recovered from hard drives that have been formatted. It’s not a myth, it’s the truth. Knowing this doesn’t mean you have to stay awake at night wondering what to do with old computers. It really comes down to what you plan on doing with the PC. If it’s going to your local computer recycling company, simply remove the drive and keep it. If the computer is being sold or given to a friend, it’s likely you’ll want to transfer this PC with a working Operating System. It also depends on the type of data the drive contained. Erase hard drive is time-consuming if you do it properly. If the data on the computer doesn’t contain critical information, you might not need to spend a lot of time erasing data no one would care about.
Hard Drive Erase Utilities
DBaN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke) is a widely used program for completely erasing a hard drive. It’s technique is to write over the data with ones and zeros as many times as you want. The more the data is overwritten, the less-likely it can be recovered. It is downloaded to a bootable disk. Once you restart the PC, the program will launch and begin its tedious task of overwriting the contents of your hard disk. The Operating System along with all the data will be gone forever. It will essentially become a new drive that will need to be partitioned and formatted for use. You should use this technique if you are recycling the computer or if you are selling the computer to a complete stranger. The buyer might want to Operating System put back on, so this will require additional work. Make sure you have the necessary disks to restore the OS.
Erase The Hard Drive Or Restore The Drive
If you are giving the PC to a relative or friend, you should simply use the system restore disks. This will return the computer to factory condition. Granted, deep down, the data is still sitting there. But unless the new owner actively looks for this data, they will never see it. The recover files, they would need to use special software specifically used for that purpose. If you trust them, it’s probably not necessary to use erase hard drive utilities. As they use the computer, your old data will gradually be overwritten with their and the data will be gone.
As you can see, there are many different scenarios to take into consideration when dealing with hard drive data. Whether you plan on physically destroying the drive or using software to erase hard drive data, there will always be ways to retrieve information if a bad guy has enough training, money and inclination to do so.
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