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Guide to Wipe your Computer of Personal Data

Posted In Backup - Recover - By Techtiplib on Friday, February 15th, 2019 With No Comments »

Trying to wipe data of your personal computer can get quite tricky. We all have private information that we store in the computer. But, there is a fair chance that your private data can easily be recovered or misused by a third person even after you get rid of the data or the computer.

However, the good news is that there are ways that you can securely erase your computer of the personal data and keep it from the reach of bad people. It is always better to be safe than sorry, so here you shall learn how personal data is securely wiped off the hard drives and why should you go that distance.

Wipe your Computer

Why not just permanently delete data?

Any data is just one’s and zero’s magnetically or electronically imprinted on the storage device. When you delete data using any method: right mouse click, SHIFT+DELETE, or delete key on the keyboard, the deleted information is removed as an entry from a table maintained by the file system. However, the data still exists on the storage device until it is over written by new data.

This can prove an advantage to people who accidentally deleted data that is files and folders, as this mechanism will allow file recovery using data recovery software.

But for people who are looking to completely remove data of the computer; this may come to be a bad news. This is because the deleted data as mentioned above can easily be recovered by a powerful data recovery tool/ expert.

Now since we have learnt that data recovery is very much possible and deleting will still keep more than traces of data vulnerable to exploitation, a more detrimental approach is required.

Tip: If your computer is equipped with an SSD, you can always enable TRIM option that automatically overwrites deleted data.

How to securely remove data of the computer?

One of the easiest ways to secure wipe the data of the computer is by resetting the computer. Follow the steps mentioned below to reset the Windows computer.

Windows 10 computers have a feature called “Reset This PC” that lets you to reset the computer by keeping personal files and folders or completely erase the existing data.

  • To reset the computer type settings in the Search box on Task Bar and select “Update and Security” option.
  • Choose “Recovery” and find the “Get started button” to begin the reset process.
  • In the next screen choose “Remove everything” option that almost eliminates the possibility of data recovery.
  • Finally click on “Reset” button to initiate the data removal and reset process.

Note: It is to be noted that the reset process only makes data recovery harder but it does not completely eliminate the chances of recovery.

Use advanced techniques to remove traces of any recoverable data

There are many software based data erasing methods that eliminate any existing data on the computer’s hard drive. All these methods follow a certain standard or protocol to overwrite and destroy data as well as verify the data erasure.

Some of well-known data erasure techniques are:

  • Random Overwrite
  • US D.O.D Standard 5220.28 and 5220.22-M
  • Fast Zero Overwrite
  • Peter Guttmann Secure deletion
  • Guttmann method

There are many more techniques used by various defense departments around the world to protect the confidentiality of important and sensitive information. As explaining each of the above methods or standards fall beyond the scope of this article, it is equally challenging for a user to carry out this task as they are sophisticated long codes of executable programs.

Hence it would be easier for you to make use of an integrated drive wiping tool that implements various data shredding patterns to remove data from the hard drive at lowest level possible.

Lastly, if you are still wondering why you should go this far to remove data off of your hard drive, please know that protecting their own personal data is everyone’s responsibility and our private information is rightfully ours. Let’s not let anybody take advantage of it.

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