Before you Donate, Recycle or Sell your Old Computer...
When it comes to disposing of an old computer, your choices are to sell, donate or recycle it. (Never throw an old computer in a dumpster as it is hazardous waste in our landfills!) Identity theft through electronic means has become such a focus of cyber-criminals that disposing of your old computer without taking steps to 'scrub' the personal or business data first could be very risky. Here are several options ranging from very simple to somewhat technical that will allow you to decide what you are most comfortable doing:
- Option #1 - Scrub the individual data files off the drive
- Option #2 - Securely wipe out the entire hard drive
- Option #3 - Remove the hard drive from the system before disposing of it
- Option #4 - Bring it to Data Doctors and ask for our Secure Data Deletion Service.
with a secure deletion program, such as Eraser. This free utility is available for download at http://sourceforge.net/projects/eraser and is the best option for anyone that wants to make sure the programs still work when they give the computer to the next party.
Don't rely on the 'delete' function in your computer's operating system because it doesn't actually remove the data; it simply marks the space occupied by the file as 'free' for use by other data. If nothing ever overwrites this space (which is a completely random process), retrieving the 'deleted' files is fairly simple for a motivated cyber-criminal.
Eraser is much more secure then deleting through the operating system because it immediately overwrites the space previously occupied by your personal data with random characters.
If you want to add another layer of protection, run the 'Disk Defragmenter' utility built into Windows after you use Eraser (in the 'System Tools' section of the Accessories group of your program listing).
with a program such as Darik's Boot and Nuke. This free utility that will completely wipe your disk clean is available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/dban and is the best option for those that are only interested in donating, selling or recycling the hardware only. Boot and Nuke does a much more thorough job then simply reformatting the hard drive. It conforms to Department of Defense data clearing and sanitizing standards and makes it nearly impossible for anyone to get anything of value off of the drive.
This procedure is much more comprehensive but requires some technical experience (making a boot disk) in order to use it.
so you can deal with the sensitive data at a later date. If you are not comfortable running either of the utilities listed above, hang on to the drive until you can find someone that you trust to do it for you.
If you want your drive professionally scrubbed, Data Doctors is offering an Earth Day Special on our Secure Data Deletion Service.
Simply visit any location and get the special rate of $59 (regularly $99) to have your data SECURELY deleted. Just mention this offer.