Deleting data from a hard drive

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b2ap3_thumbnail_iStock_000014700978XSmall_20131210-172351_1.jpgDeleting data from a hard drive

So you have purchased a new computer and decided to sell the old one. After you have transferred all important data to the new computer you will face a problem regarding methods of deleting data from the old computer. Please note, if simply delete data, format your hard disk drive and reinstall an operating system over, new owner will still be able to easily recover your data. It means that your personal information (tax returns, financial reports, passwords, personal photos, video and many other) may become available to third parties and may be used against you.

What can be done to avoid such situation? So, if you decided to delete data from hard disk drive, you need to know that the following is INSUFFICIENT to delete it completely:

  • deleting data and cleaning bin
  • hard disk drive formatting
  • formatting and re-installation of Windows or any other operating system

Why the above is insufficient? You have to understand how data is stored on your hard disk drive.

When information is written to a hard disk drive it is stored in a file reminding book's contents. On computers with DOS and Windows the information is stored in a File Allocation Table, or FAT, or in a Master File Table, or MFT. When file is deleted, FAT or MFT tables are updated and tell the computer that there is a free space on the hard disk drive, although in practice data is not deleted until it is not overwritten with new data.

To make sure that you have more or less deleted your data, please use the following:

Use information cleaning tools.

To prevent your personal data from being recovered by third parties, make sure to use special software for that purpose.

Hard disk drive demagnetization:

Demagnetization is a process in which magnetic carriers are erased with opposite magnetic field that encrypts and mixes electronic data and therefore makes it unreadable. Unfortunately one needs to have a special equipment to do so and that is why it is not reasonable for an ordinary user.

Physical destruction of a hard disk drive.

Here it's all pretty clear, just knock yourself out and grind the hard disk drive to the dust and trash it. But in this case you won't be able to sell it anymore.

And finally, I would like to say that if you submitted your computer to the service center and the latter informed you that your hard disk drive is broken and data cannot be recovered, make sure to collect it back and buy a new one.

Last modified on Friday, 22 May 2015 15:38
Data Recovery Expert

Viktor S., Ph.D. (Electrical/Computer Engineering), was hired by DataRecoup, the international data recovery corporation, in 2012. Promoted to Engineering Senior Manager in 2010 and then to his current position, as C.I.O. of DataRecoup, in 2014. Responsible for the management of critical, high-priority RAID data recovery cases and the application of his expert, comprehensive knowledge in database data retrieval. He is also responsible for planning and implementing SEO/SEM and other internet-based marketing strategies. Currently, Viktor S., Ph.D., is focusing on the further development and expansion of DataRecoup’s major internet marketing campaign for their already successful proprietary software application “Data Recovery for Windows” (an application which he developed).


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