Sadly, we live in a day and age where we have to take numerous steps to secure our personal information. Fraud is rife, and if you are to protect yourself, you simply must destroy your hard drive when your computer stops working or you no longer want it. However, it is not as simple as taking a hammer to your hard drive and smashing it up into smithereens. Keeping that in mind, read on to discover everything you need to know.
Most of us throw away our computers or put them on eBay, sell your stuff apps, and other auction websites, and we think nothing of it. That is until we find that someone has been withdrawing money from our bank account. Unfortunately, when you put your computer up for auction or throw it into a rubbish tip, you are simply handing it to a waiting criminal. These individuals source computers from such locations so that they can extract valuable user information, and as criminals get more sophisticated in their approaches, the danger of this gets worse and worse.
In fact, all it usually takes is freely available software for a criminal to recover files that you think you have deleted. This is because critical data is never completely erased unless it is removed from the hard drive. You may have deleted your files, but, unfortunately, this does not mean they are gone forever. The only way to be sure of this is by destroying your hard drive.
This is because of the way in which hard drives store information. There is an index file, which stores and updates a list of where each file is located on the physical hard drive. The computer processor writes this list. Therefore, when you ‘delete’ a file, the file itself actually remains – it is merely the index entry that is removed.
In fact, several years ago, ‘Which? Computing’ magazine demonstrated how severe this problem is. They purchased eight computers from eBay, and they recovered a total of 22,000 ‘deleted files’, which aptly showcases how normal deletion is insufficient when it comes to data removal.
You may be wondering what a criminal would want from your computer; however, all you need to do is think about your daily use of your PC. Do you shop online? Do you take photographs? Do you use social networking sites? Your computer contains an abundance of personal information, and this is information that could bring a hefty payday for identity thieves.
Nevertheless, when destroying the hard drive, you do need to be mindful of the approach you take. If you simply take a hammer to it, you could be releasing toxic materials when the hard drive is smashed, and thus this is a dangerous approach. Instead, there are those who specialize in this field. Not only will they ensure your data is destroyed, but they will dispose of your gadget in a safe manner, ensuring the components are either reused or recycled so that they do not contribute to the growing problem of e-waste.