How Can I Throw My Old Hard Drive Away Safely?

How long do you keep a computer for?

In our throwaway society I bet it isn’t very long.

Most of my friends keep their for just a few years.


If, like me, you ever have a data disaster then you may find yourself replacing one or more hard drives after just a year or two.

What, then, do you do with your old equipment?

Do you throw your old machine into the garbage?

Do you take the time to secure your data before disposing of your hardware?

What many people do not realise is that the various parts of a computer are quite robust, especially the hard drive, as shown in the following video clip –

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If you haven’t physically destroyed your hard drive then your data may be at risk when you dispose of it, even if you think you have deleted everything.

The hardened cyber criminal has the tools required to recover data from a hard drive even after the user has used the operating system to either delete the contents of the disk or following a reformat.

Once they have your personal information it would be a small step for them to commit identity theft against you.

When disposing of a computer the best thing to do is to open up the case, remove the drive and then physically destroy it, though not in the manner shown in that video of course!

On the other hand, if you are giving the computer away, to a school for example, then you will need to ensure that the hard drive you leave in the machine is completely clear of all your data.

For this you will need a data deletion service, something I’ll report on at a later date.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


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