Tech Tips Home
The Best Tech Tips And Daily Deals
Newsletter On The Internet!

WorldStart Tech Tip And Store Search
Email: Password: Login Remember Me
looking for freeware

Like what you see here? Subscribe to the Tech Tips newsletter!   Email: Subscribe

Erase Your Hard Drive

Tuesday, November 9th, 2004 by | Filed Under: Security Help

Erase Your Hard Drive

People give there old PCs away to family members, charities, and some end up at the local PC repair shop without ever being properly wiped clean. Everything stored on your PC is on the hard drive. There was a two-year experiment done by MIT graduates Simon Garfinkel and Abhi Shelat where they collected 156 hard drives from various places (the web, ebay, PC shops, and businesses). Out of the 158 drives tested, 129 drives worked and hardly any of them were properly wiped clean. There were thousands of credit card numbers, private “adult” stuff, love letters, you name it, that was completely recoverable on these drives.

Most people believe that deleting data and then cleaning out the recycle bin does a sufficient job. This is NOT the case. When you delete something in windows, it just marks it to be overwritten. There is also a misconception that formatting a hard drive permanently erases stored data. This is also not true—a format just reconstructs the allocation table and checks the blocks on the disk. It does nothing actively to remove the data, it simply leaves it “unprotected”. With both of these scenarios, if you have the right software you can recover data thought to be unrecoverable.

So, how do we erase this data on a hard drive for good? You can physically destroy the drive—but that’s not as easy as you think and you would be amazed at what people can recover data from. There are cases where people have drilled holes in the platters and it could still be recovered. You can take it to a PC repair store that has a Degausser that removes all the magnetism from the drive leaving it useless for good, but this can be way too expensive to justify the price for the common end user. You can write Zeros to the drive with the utilities at the hard drive manufacturer site and that will stop most people, but experienced users can still recover it.

If you don’t want to destroy the drive, and are concerned about keeping your privacy then check out these two free programs that can take your hard drive to a state of non-recoverablility…

Until then…

~ Chad

Leave a Reply

Like these tips? Get them for FREE in your email!

WorldStart's Tech Tips Newsletter

  • Tech Tips Daily - Become a tech pro! Get the very best tech and computer help sent directly to your email every weekday!

  • Tech Tips Weekly - If you don't want our Tech Tips newsletter every day, then sign up for this weekly newsletter to get the best information of the week. Sent on Fridays.

Other Newsletters

  • WorldStart's Daily Deals - Every week, we send out great deals in our Daily Deals newsletter. Many of these deals are exclusively for our Daily Deals newsletter subscribers and can't be found with our regular specials.

  • Just For Grins - Each issue includes a couple clean jokes, some funny quotes, and a hilarious reader's story. Newsletter is sent five days a week.

Enter Email Address:


Your e-mail address is safe with us!
We only use it to send you the newsletters you request. It is NEVER disclosed to a third party for any reason, ever! Plus, if you decided you don't like our newsletters (don't worry, you'll love them), unsubscribing is fast and easy.

Free Newsletter Signup

Tech Tips Daily

Become a tech pro! Get the very best tech and computer help sent directly to your email every weekday!

Tech Tips Weekly

The week's best in tech and computer help. Get your issue sent to your email every Friday!

WorldStart's Daily Deals

The very best deals on the Internet! Get a new set of incredible sales every day of the week!

Just For Grins

Clean jokes, funny quotes, and hilarious comics. Sent 5 times a week straight to your email.


Love Worldstart? Refer A Friend!

looking for freeware
WorldStart's Premium Membership

Tip Archive